Marina Young: The stories from the many women that regret their abortion should be validated too

MARINA YOUNGFounder of Buttons Project – says that the current abortion debate feels like it’s treating her as a criminal – for regretting her abortion. But her experience has been shared by thousands of other women – many of whom have contacted her through the Buttons Project.

28 May 2019

Through my own abortion experience and having many stories shared with me from post abortive women, men, siblings and others, the baby aborted is never forgotten. There are often many triggers of remembrance during one’s lifetime and the decision to abort shouldn’t be made lightly.

Many factors come into one’s decision, and it often depends on what the woman had to choose from and supports available at the time.

Some in the media and ALRANZ want to remove certain safeguards, and their stance often brings the stigma upon other women wanting to share another view regarding their experience. These women then often suffer in silence, unvalidated, vulnerable, and in fear of judgement – as I have.

Any changes to the current law must act in the best interests of women’s health and long term mental and emotional wellbeing. Any woman who has had an abortion according to the current law is NOT a criminal. Many women I have spoken with don’t talk about the so-called “hoops” to go through for an abortion. It is more about the lack of honest informed consent and information which is the biggest issue.

For many, following an abortion there are feelings of depression, an inner void, grief, physical problems, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal ideation to name a few. Sometimes straight away, or feelings can be suppressed for months or years.

We need to take the abortion research seriously. People don’t like having to say that it is a mental health issue, but we need to take account of the women’s mental health. Removing certain safe guards around abortion will not do that and ignores all the research which shows it can harm women.  

The decision to abort shouldn’t be taken lightly, when at the end of the day two lives are being affected.

For me, the counsellor at the abortion clinic, just agreed with all my fears and gave me no alternatives to choose from. So I continued on this “conveyor belt” of destruction, treated like another number, had a surgical abortion and was awake through the whole procedure. It was a traumatic experience. I had no follow up and suffered in silence for years with feelings of depression, low self-worth, anger, grief and loss. I was not alone in this, as many women have experienced the same and have asked – Who can I reach out to? Who will truly understand what I am going through? A person starts to heal, the moment they feel they have been heard. Their abortion loss needs to be acknowledged and feelings of grief/loss validated.

The current abortion debate feels like it’s treating ME as a criminal – for regretting my abortion. But my experience has been shared by thousands of other women – many of whom have contacted me through the Buttons Project.

For many the abortion wasn’t the quick fix they thought it was and these babies are not forgotten.  Abortion is such a life-changing event for many and I believe we are just touching the tip of an iceberg of loss.

I feel that for whatever reason you choose to abort, there is no denying it is a mental health issue, a battle of mind and body, because you are taking the life of your baby. As I did 33 years ago.

I know we can still do so much better for women. It is a momentous and challenging decision affecting her and this new life.

We should always choose life!


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