My Abortion #128: Rachel Gasston’s Story

Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days.

Today’s story comes from a story originally printed in the Guardian, as Rachel Gasston discusses how abortion literally saved her life.

Rachel Gasston, 30

I had an abortion in 2002, when I was 26 years old and studying for extra A-levels. I was all set to attend university, and had been offered a conditional place at Oxford, so I was working really hard.

Living with my parents, I had been feeling very ill, and thought that it must just be a general malaise. I mentioned it to my mother though, and she asked whether I could be pregnant. I was pretty shocked, as I had only been seeing my boyfriend for about three months, and, even at that stage, it wasn’t a great relationship.

After a couple of pregnancy tests, though, the doctor confirmed that my mother had been right. I remember immediately thinking, “I’m not doing this.” I was absolutely sure. That was weird, because I had actually been quite anti-abortion before. I knew one woman who had had an abortion and I had been quite disapproving. As soon as I knew that I was pregnant, though, my only thought was that this had to be over as soon as possible.

Setting up the abortion was fairly straightforward and I had a surgical procedure at a Marie Stopes clinic (paid for by the NHS) at eight weeks pregnant. I was fully conscious throughout – I think I was offered a general anaesthetic, but I didn’t want an overnight stay – and I have to say I was shocked by how violent the procedure was. It wasn’t painful, but I was taken aback at just how vigorous the doctor was.

I am from South Africa and there it is illegal to have an abortion. Even now, when I think about it, all these years later, I am overcome with relief and gratitude that I live in a country where it is my decision – not the state’s – whether I have children or not.

In fact, I actually think that the abortion saved my life. If I hadn’t had the option of a legal termination, I would have tried to do it myself, and, if that hadn’t worked and hadn’t killed me, I’m fairly certain I would have killed myself.

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