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Thoughts of a woman who had an abortion

Whenever I pass by this man's office, I paint a picture of me strangling him, kicking his groin, and eventually stabbing him to death. I also imagine bumping into him inside a mall and asking him, while his wife is watching, "Kumusta ka na? Alam na ba ng asawa mo na nagsusugal ka at nambababae? Na nakabuntis ka ng di lang iisang babae bukod sa kaniya? (How are you? Does your wife know that you gamble and cheat on her? That you impregnated more than one woman that’s not her?)”

But I don't hate this man as much as I hate myself. All because I know I did something wrong and tried to change it by doing something that is even worse.

I engaged in casual sex with a married man – this man I wanted to strangle – whom I thought would fill the emptiness I used to feel. And because I was careless, I allowed myself to get pregnant. 

Scared of the consequences of unwanted pregnancy – having to tell my ailing parents, being banished and disowned, excommunicated by my church, rearing a human being by myself, setting aside my career which is about to take off — I decided to have an abortion.

I regret that decision. Moreover, I regret having casual sex in the first place. No excuses. I know I did something wrong. But more importantly, I resent every accolade and praise I received for almost everything after that. 

No, I'm not a good Christian. No, I'm not the best daughter. No, I'm not the most humane person in the world. 

This is how society wants every woman who committed abortion would like to think. We cannot hold our heads up high because we're constantly being judged. We cannot look in the mirror and be proud of our reflection because all we see are the words: Sin. Crime. Killer. (READ: Is it time to legalize abortion in the PH?)

Move on, move forward 

There are nights when I dream of a sonogram of a growing fetus with a beating heart. There are days when I fear that I would have blood gushing out of me and that I wouldn't know how to explain myself. There are times when I just want to be dead so that I don't have to go over and over the memory of what I did. 

I constantly and consciously have to be the best in everything I do, career-wise and all. I have had this idea that maybe, if I cover up this activity with success, that I would be able to offset my mistakes. But being successful isn't everything.

Somehow, in the deepest, deepest part of my being, I would like to be accepted. (READ: Death by stigma: Problems with post-abortion care)

I didn't want the abortion I had to become the reason for my lover to break up with me. I wanted to feel that the choices I make do not make me good or evil. And that I, like the others, have a right to be granted a second chance, a fresh start, an opportunity to improve myself.

Right now, I take comfort in knowing that I have friends who understand me fully. Among them are also women who have had abortions in the past. There's Nina, who is now in grad school; June, who is now a mother to a beautiful 4-year-old girl; and Annie, who just received a fellowship abroad.

A week ago, a Twitter hashtag went trending worldwide. It said, #ShoutYourAbortion. I kept thinking about whether I should come out and come forward with it. 

Abortion is a reality worldwide. Even if it is illegal in the Philippines, it happens every day, inside abortion "clinics", households, hotels, hospitals, among others. Worse, sometimes, it is the only option available for victims of rape, incest, and those women with problems with their reproductive health.

Are Nina, June, Annie and I the worst persons in the world? I don't think so. 

We all take responsibility for what we did and we all decided to move on and move forward. I don't want us to be regarded as victims and to blame it all on the men we slept with. 

Some of the women who had an abortion just weren't ready to become parents. Some of us just didn't think parenthood is something we could do that time, today, or maybe ever. Some of us aren't financially secure to let a human being live in risks of poverty. Some of us just cannot take the judgment the kid would experience if people knew that he or she was conceived out of wedlock, and his or her father has another family. And some were victims of sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence.

I didn't join the Twitter campaign. But I would like to write in behalf of those who have had an abortion in the Philippines. We're probably your sisters, daughters, nieces, aunts, lovers, or friends. 

Yes, we have had an abortion. We're trying to live like the rest of you, normally and in peace. But we don't deserve to be treated like outcasts of society. We have rights too. —

April Salazar* is an alias. The author chose not to disclose her real name for privacy reasons. She is a communication graduate student in Metro Manila.