I stare at the test, observe, petrified, how the first stripe appears, and then the second. With a sinking feeling I realise what this means. I know it, but the truth takes ages to fully register.
I am pregnant. Fuck.
It is 2010, I am a student working several part time jobs on the side, living an overall chaotic live. I somehow try to balance my studies, jobs and private life, and somehow try to find myself in the process. Not long ago I had a heavy car accident, in which I almost lost my life. But that‘s not all that‘s keeping me awake at night. Our relationship also isn‘t what it used to be anymore.
I‘m scared. Scared of the future. Scared I won‘t find a job. Scared to lose my boyfriend. And above all, scared to lose myself.
I hold the test in my hands, and every fibre of my body screams NO.
NO. NO. NO. NO. I don‘t want this. Everything is happening at once, one catastrophe is followed by the next. And now this.
I feel numb, and I already feel a decision forming in my heart. I go online, and type in the search querie:
It takes me until the evening to muster up the courage to tell my boyfriend about my decision. He seems disappointed and relieved at the same time. I feel his conflict, maybe as profound as mine. We are just not ready yet. The truth is, it may have even be clearer to me already, at that point. Deep down, I knew we would never be ready.
I get pregnancy diagnosis from a doctor, then go to a family planning center. Everything moves quickly from that point onwards. An appointment with a gynecologist, I get prescribed a pill, a hormone bomb, designed to abort the fertilized egg. I stay home that day, take the day off from work, binge watch series and eat crap. It‘s an uncomfortable procedure, but I knew it wasn‘t going to be a walk in the park.
The following day I feel relief, liberation, pain and a deep longing for better times, an emotional anticipation of the day I will be ready to have children.
So, the time has come. §219a has been passed. The law is less restrictive now, but in terms of actual progress it feels like we transitioned from the early to the late middle ages. It‘s an improvement, for sure, but nothing close to adequate for the time we live in. Under the amended and updated law, abortion is still illegal, but can be performed with impunity. Now, as before, doctors are not allowed to publish information pertaining to abortions. At least they can now state openly that they perform abortions, even if they still can‘t give information on the specifics of the procedures they offer. These specifics are deposited with the Federal Center for Health Information.
And there are other changes, as well. Abortion procedures can now be taught, which is an actual improvement, given the fact that the subject wasn’t even covered in medical studies before. It’s quite inconceivable, actually, but this crucial issue is not really as integral a part of this academic course as it should be. Of course, it should be up to each individual doctor whether they want to administer abortions or not. Preservatives should be free for women under 22. It just makes sense, in my humble opinion.
What doesn‘t make sense, in my opinion, is the study dealing with the psychological effects of abortions, which costs all of EUR 5 mn. It is the brainchild of minister of health Jens Spahn, who has already stood out in the past with his depreciative comments towards women, which tainted the whole affair in an ideological light. You see, there are plenty of studies out there, for example the Turnaway study, which looked at the effects of unwanted pregnancies, carried out or aborted. The bottom line: women who carry out unwanted pregnancies descend into poverty much more often than the average. Not only are they worse off, psychologically, so are their children.
The complexity of the issue may be the core of the problem: when we‘re talking about unwanted pregnancies, there is no objective wrong or right.
That said, there should always be support, counseling, understanding.
As far as I can see, information control or studies will never be valid means to convince women to carry out pregnancies. A functioning infrastructure would be useful, starting with a sensible amount of care at hospitals, sufficient numbers of midwives and daycare centers and, generally, a practical consensus facilitating the balance of family and career. Women should have a safety net that catches them in cases of unwanted pregnancies. And 5 million Euros would go a long way in contributing to these solutions.