Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days. What follows is an excerpt from Sara Kim’s story. At 25, she ended an unexpected pregnancy while living in South Korea, where abortion is only legal in very narrow circumstances. She speaks about what it was like to “carry the secret [of her abortion] around with [her] as if it had never happened,” and working through fears to share her story with others. Read her full narrative as published in Bust.
“In February of 2008, while living in Seoul, I found out that I was four months pregnant. I was in a committed relationship and had been taking birth control pills as our chosen form of contraception. As in many monogamous relationships, my boyfriend and I had unprotected sex regularly, assuming that the pills would keep me from getting pregnant.
I first suspected I might be pregnant a few weeks after I actually was (according to the math my gynecologist and I did later). I went to a clinic recommended to me by several people in the expat neighborhood of Itaewon, where my urine pregnancy test incorrectly came out negative, which is very much possible for a number of reasons. (Basically, a pregnancy test measures for a hormone called hCG, which is produced not when the egg becomes fertilized but after the fertilized egg actually implants into the uterine wall; the placenta of your fetus is what produces this hormone. Implantation normally occurs “6 to 12 days after fertilization. Within a few days, membranes surrounding the tiny embryo begin secreting hCG into the mother’s blood. A blood test can detect hCG about 9 to 15 days after fertilization, but it takes a few more days for hCG…to appear in the urine. In a study published in the April 2005 issue of ‘Fertility and Sterility,’ of 63 women in early stages of pregnancy, [hCG] appeared in urine samples about 6 days after it could be measured in blood, or by 2 1/2 to 3 weeks after fertilization.”)
I expressed my doubt about the test results to the doctor, and he declared to me in an arrogant tone, “I’m 99% sure you’re not pregnant!” (If only I’d known then about pregnancy tests what I know now.) So I went on about my life, but over the course of several weeks, something was definitely off, but, of course, it was only obvious in retrospect…”