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…