Should I feel guilty after an abortion?
‘My girlfriend and I opted for an abortion. We weren’t ready to have a child. But now we feel guilty about the whole thing. Was our decision wrong?’
I’m so sorry to hear about your state of mind… your’s and your girlfriend’s… Ok, come on, now let’s talk… about many things!
How is your gf? Is she recuperating ok? I hope you chose a safe, registered centre for the abortion. I am well aware of how difficult this can be… And by the way, you are not the only ones experiencing this difficult situation. There are many young people like you.
So to begin with, you are so young, of course you are not ready to have a baby. You would have to manage a lot before that – get married for example, if you want to have the baby and be socially accepted. Moreover, there are other people involved – mummy and daddy, for example. So what you did was perhaps the most sensible thing to do. So please, just relax, both of you.
What always intrigues me is why exactly we feel the guilt, who or what makes us feel that? Why do we ought to be feeling bad about what we have done?
Actually, perhaps it works at two levels. One, ‘Hell, I had pre-marital sex!’ Is it such a big crime? Then: ‘I got pregnant and went for an abortion!’ A crime and even a sin, many would say.
Of course, yes, perhaps you ought to have been much more careful. Whatever happened to contraception, how did it land here? OK? You never expected it, it happened, and now you have learnt a lesson for life – don’t be casual about sex! Sex is serious, adult business!
But society has hyped up sex, intimacy and partnerships with so much pressure, guilt and so many taboos that especially young people just get weighed under the guilt and remorse of it all.
Ready when steady
No one gets an abortion merrily, gladly. It is always a very tough choice and even a more difficult action. Often it involves young women facing some sort of intrusive medical procedure. No doubt, they are petrified.
To add to all these negative feelings will be even worse at this stage, right? The point is, when should we bring a baby into the world? When we are settled and happy, with a loving and secure partner, in a strong relationship with a solid support system?
Or should we do it just because it happened by mistake or because society expects women to be popping out babies in some stipulated time period? What should we be aiming at?! Planning and looking forward to one or just going ahead with some pre-set program?
In Kenya, abortion is illegal unless a trained healthcare professional decides that the life and health of the mother are in danger. But because this law is still fairly new, many healthcare providers are reluctant to performing abortions because they fear the legal consequences.
But who should have the final say? The person whose body it is, whose life is impacted most, who is the expert on her life, including anyone else she chooses to involve in her decision. So now ease out the guilt, be aware and better informed and be safe. Take care, both of you, all of you!