A couple of weeks ago, I shared Alanna*’s story about how her teenage pregnancy and subsequent traumatic abortion still haunt her seven years later. Several ladies could relate to her story and reached out, wanting to share their post-abortion experiences as well.
I decided to reach out to even more women, and here’s what seven of them had to say.
“I think I’m being punished”
— Ebi*, 52
I had an abortion 20 years ago, and honestly, it was a rushed, emotional decision. I still blame myself, and I think I’m being punished because I’ve not had another pregnancy since.
This is what happened: I was in a relationship with this man, and we were planning to get married. Then, I got pregnant. According to him, we had to push the wedding till after I gave birth because his culture frowned on pregnant brides. I agreed and moved in with him to have the baby while wedding plans were still undergoing. Four months into the pregnancy, I discovered I was expecting twins. At the same time, my fiance and I started having issues.
To cut the story short, I had a surgical abortion at four and a half months because I didn’t want to go ahead with the marriage. It was in a hospital, but really hush-hush because it’s illegal. We broke up, and I later married someone else about six years later, but no child. Doctors say I have a depleted ovarian reserve, but if I didn’t have the abortion, I’d have two adult kids today.
“It gave me a new lease on life”
— Mercy*, 31
I’m pro-life, and I sometimes feel guilty about my abortion, but it gave me a new lease on life.
I had it three years ago, a year into my marriage. It was an abusive union — the abuse started four months after we got married — and I was already planning how to exit when I found myself pregnant. I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want anyone to try to change my mind. I’d already waited almost eight months for him to change, and I knew having a child with him would bind me to him forever. I didn’t want to end up being yet another figure on the list of domestic violence victims.
I got the abortion pill and did it within two weeks of finding out I was pregnant. It felt like really bad menstrual cramps, and I bled a lot, but it wasn’t so bad. I got better the next day and packed out the week after. I’m free.
“I don’t even think about them”
— Anne*, 27
I’ve had two pill abortions, both for the same ex-boyfriend. Each time, I thought I’d feel guilty about the babies, maybe because of how people try to bad-mouth abortions, but I don’t even think about them.
It was a choice we both made because we weren’t ready to be parents — we weren’t even thinking about marriage. I’m now more attentive to birth control and contraceptives, so I don’t have to go down that route again. But if I get pregnant by mistake, I’ll abort again.
“The depression is real”
— Dany*, 34
I don’t think we talk enough about the depression that comes after having an abortion. It’s real.
I got pregnant at 25, after my boyfriend raped me in the university. I confided in my best friend because there was no way in hell I could tell my parents.
She took me to a clinic, and they gave me two options: D&C or the pill. I was really paranoid about doing a surgical procedure because it seemed like the easiest way to lose my womb, so I opted for the pill. It was horrible. I bled terribly and still had to do the D&C two weeks later after all, because the pill didn’t evacuate the pregnancy completely. I still had symptoms.
For three weeks after the whole ordeal, I kept seeing babies in my dream, and I was depressed for a really long time. I’m married now and have one child, but I can’t forget the one I didn’t allow to live.
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“I wouldn’t advise anyone to do it”
— Sade*, 41
I’ve had two abortions; one while I was single, and the other after giving birth to my four children (my husband and I couldn’t afford a fifth), but I wouldn’t advise anyone to do it.
It’s too risky, and I know many women who’ve had complications because they had to do it under the table since abortion is still illegal in Nigeria. No standard doctor would want to do it because they’d risk losing their license, so we’re left with the ones who just don’t care. I’m just lucky not to have had any complications.
My first abortion was done traditionally. A local midwife inserted a leaf in my vagina, and within six hours, I started bleeding. My husband and I had to bribe a doctor to help us with the second one. I was scared, but I already have four children; there’s nothing I’m using the womb to do again. Thankfully, it went well, and I fully recovered within three days.
“It shouldn’t stop you from having kids”
— Mina*, 20
I had a pill abortion at 19, and only my girlfriends knew. One of them was heavily against it, though. She said she had a dream that I couldn’t have more children. I’m still in school and can’t even provide for myself talk more of a baby, so it was the sensible thing to do. I tried not to take her seriously and went ahead with it, but it was eating me up for a while. So a few months ago, I went to a gynaecologist for a full check-up.
The doctor confirmed all was well and emphasised that an abortion, when done properly, shouldn’t stop you from having kids. I think most people are scared because there’s so much misinformation in Nigeria.
“I think I died”
— Sophie*, 29
I’ve had an IUD since I was 24, so I was really surprised when I got pregnant in 2022. I told my boyfriend; the goat ghosted me. I got information online and bought an abortion pill because single parenthood isn’t in my dictionary.
I took the pill and mentally prepared myself, but I think I died. I blacked out for about three hours and woke up bleeding. I’m not sure what happened. Maybe I got dizzy and fainted, but I lost about three hours. I bled for two days, did another pregnancy test after a week, and it came back negative.
A part of me feels I should’ve kept the baby. I’m pushing 30, after all. I feel guilty whenever I see a pregnant woman on Instagram, but we move. Being a single mother would hurt my chances of getting into a serious relationship even further.
*Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.
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