My Catholic parents don’t know I had an abortion – I’m still not ready to tell them

I knew I never wanted my parents to find out (Picture: Getty Images)

As soon as I saw the two lines appear on the third pregnancy test I’d taken, I knew I wasn’t ready to become a mother – for lots of reasons.  

It was 2015, and I had just started a new chapter of my life in a new city and had just finished my first year of my media degree. I wasn’t even in a relationship with the man who had impregnated me – we were seeing each other but it was casual.

Mostly, I felt sure it wasn’t my time to have a baby. I was only 19 and didn’t feel mature or responsible enough to even consider bringing another human into the world. 

All of this made my decision to get an abortion a lot easier. 

But despite knowing that it was the right thing for me, it was a lonely and scary process. Only two people knew at the time – the father and a mutual friend. I remember crying down the phone to the friend about it, as feelings of panic and fear overwhelmed me. She could relate to the situation, having gone through it herself, and her advice to try and remain calm did help. 

Meanwhile, the father was adamant that I should keep it – but I knew it wasn’t what I wanted. And I held my ground: it was my body, my choice. I still hold this view to this day.

I told nobody else – and, most of all, I knew I never wanted my parents to find out. They are both Catholic, with clear anti-abortion views and I was worried that they would kick me out of the house or disown me if they were to find out.

This meant that I had to go through the whole process alone.  

It was the summer holidays and I was living with them at the time. A week after finding out I was pregnant, I had booked in for an abortion – but, on the day, I lied to them and said I was going to meet a friend. 

In the clinic, the doctor talked me through the procedure. I was around six weeks pregnant, and because it was so early, I was given the abortion pill. The doctor advised me to get home promptly, before the drugs started to work, and to be in the toilet when it happened. 

It was an awful, lonely process to go through

I remember sobbing quietly in the bathroom when things started to take effect. I was in a tremendous amount of pain, while my mum was downstairs, cooking lunch and blissfully unaware of what was happening upstairs. But after around three hours in the bathroom (the doctor said it would take four – six hours), Mum knocked on the door and asked if I was OK. 

I lied through my teeth saying that I had stomach pains. The pregnancy passed around an hour later. 

That day emotionally drained me and throughout the process, I knew I needed someone physically present with me. I never got it. I’d never felt so alone until that moment. 

It was an awful, lonely process to go through. Looking back, perhaps I should’ve confided in other friends who lived closer to home for support, so I had someone to hold my hand and tell me that everything was going to work out.

But I was afraid of being judged for being so reckless. I’ve always been the friend who is quite reserved and shy – a goody two shoes even – and I dreaded the idea of them seeing me in a different light, or losing respect for me.

The main reason for doing it in complete secrecy, however, was because of how vocal my parents are about their views on abortion. 

I have always been pro-abortion, and have previously argued with my dad that women have the moral right to decide what to do with their bodies and without abortions being legal, women would opt for unsafe methods. But this has often led to arguments. 

For example, when the recent Texas abortion ban news broke out, my dad said, ‘good for them, I hope other states follow’. There have been a fair few times over the years where we have clashed over these beliefs, with the disagreements sometimes getting very heated and ending up with one of us storming out of the room. 

I was afraid of being judged for being so reckless

This all made having an abortion while living under their roof very difficult, especially when the subject is brought up in the household. My first debate with them post-abortion was a blur – I was overwhelmed with emotions and started crying before leaving the room. I don’t think my parents quite grasped why the conversation made me so upset, but they never spoke to me about why I reacted the way I did.

We try to keep these discussions to a minimum now. I’ll be honest though, whenever these arguments break out, I am often half tempted to just tell them I had an abortion out of rage. In the end, I always stop myself from doing so.

Strangely enough, I am quite close to my parents, but I’m worried that being open with them could break that bond. More than anything, I fear if I tell them, disappointment will set in and they’d see me in a different light.

Frankly, I think I’m terrified that their reaction is going to be extremely negative, and mean they’ll never speak to me again. They both have such strong views on the subject. 

I’m now in a serious relationship of four years and my partner knows about what I have gone through. My mum is already asking questions about when she’s going to get grandchildren. And as much as I am ready to have a child now, I do often wonder how they would have reacted if I’d had a baby, aged 19, with a man I didn’t love. 

Would their beliefs mean that I would have disappointed them for having a child at such a young age, unmarried? Or would they be more disappointed with me having an abortion? 

Although the idea of asking my parents these questions crosses my mind every so often, six years have gone by and I’m still not ready to tell them. 

Being completely honest, I’m not sure I ever will be. 

My parents were thrilled for me to get into university (it’s seen as a privilege to go to uni in the Philippines, where my mum is from). If I had thrown that opportunity away because of a mistake I made, I feel I would’ve let my parents and myself down. 

And as selfish as this may sound, if it weren’t for me having that abortion, I don’t think my life would have panned out the way it has now, particularly career-wise. 

That being said, reflecting on this experience has been helpful and I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulder by simply writing this. A couple of years ago, I told some of my closest friends about it – and they were nothing but wonderful and supportive. Writing and speaking about it has given me the closure that I’ve been looking for, for the past six years. 

If I were to one day confide in my parents about my abortion, I would hope that there would be little judgement and that they would sympathise with my reasons.

But I guess I’ll never know how they genuinely feel until I eventually pluck up the courage to tell them. I’m just not there yet.

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