On her left wrist is a small tattoo. A tattoo of three small hearts. Each the size of a coin. Each tattooed on a different day; different year; different artist. All for the same reason, same pain. Each heart symbolizes a life she never gave a chance, a Being she never got to know, a life she took. An abortion.
To most she is a coward, inhuman and cruel. Few see her as realistic. Realistic in that she thought about the future. Realistic in that she weighed pros and cons. Realistic in that she was brave enough to make hard decisions. Decisions that made her church excommunicate her. Decisions that drove away most of her friends. Decisions that led to some of her relatives branding her “the devil”. She doesn’t ask to be labeled otherwise. She doesn’t even try to justify her actions.
Why would anyone want a tattoo to remind them of such dark pasts? Why would she rather not bury her past behind her?
She chooses not to run from her past, her choices, her sins. She chooses to let her soul bleed until it heals. If it ever will. She is not proud of what she did, the steps she took. But those steps had to be taken. It doesn’t torment her. She doesn’t dream of the children she never gave a chance. She doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night and hear their cries. She doesn’t have night mares.
It bothers her that she doesn’t have night mares. It bothers her that she continues to live like noting ever happened. She believes she is not worth of such peace of mind.
Her latest abortion was authorized by a doctor. She had to have it or the pregnancy would have killed her. She developed complications due to he previous abortions. The demons of her past had refused to die. The doctors said that there wasn’t a way out. Her womb could not hold a foetus when she wanted it to. She would not blame it-the womb. She had herself to blame. She went about it with courage and regret. She got the third part of her tattoo.
The second part of the tattoo is the most regrettable. The second part led to the third. It started with a road trip with friends to celebrate clearing campus. They were out to celebrate the start of a new phase of their lives. Had she known it would lead to an abortion she would have celebrated elsewhere. She had know the ‘friends’ on the trip well. She had known them for four years. They had done alot together, from studying to partying to ‘surviving’. She had known her male friends to be gentlemen. Gentlemen who did not take advantage of drunk ladies; passed out ladies.
She was mistaken. They took advantage of a drunk lady (her) on the back seat of a hired car. Two of them. She had no idea who the baby’s father was. She didn’t want to have a baby who would remind her of the two ‘gentlemen’. The baby would be hard to love. The baby would be painful. The baby would drag the past wherever she went. The baby had to go. The second heart ink.
When she joined university she was a naïve girl. A naïve girl whose favourite television programmes were Soap operas. Soap operas that taught her to believe in love and its power. So she believed the words of a fellow first year student , she fell for him. They took walks in the evenings under the stars just like in the soaps. When she missed her period, the script changed. Missing her period brought her back to reality. Reality where the power of love wasn’t enough to make the boy stay. Reality where her father would disown her if they found out. It would break her parents if they found out. Bring up the baby on her own in secrecy would be impossible. It would subject the baby to misery. She couldn’t face the consequences of her actions. The power of love failed her.
She almost avoided the abortion. She almost kept the baby. She almost became a mother. But almost doesn’t count.- The first heart.
She rarely tells her story- of the three hearts-, it earns her different labels. Bad labels. She only tells it to vulnerable girls. Girls like her who do not court tragedy but rather tragedy courts them.
Can they live with the choices they make? Can they face the consequences the consequences of their actions?
She learned that the war over a woman’s right to her own body is neither won nor lost when she aborts. It is lost every time she can not live with the choices she makes. It is lost every time she acts cowardly and lets fear take control.
Judgment and condemnation may not be enough to save the unborn babies from the bins. She did not take out those lives out of anger or cruelty. Judgment and condemnation could not have stopped her. She did it to prevent the “unwanted” children from facing a cold and receptive world. “ Destruction would have occurred anyway. Abortion only mitigated the impact. It changed when and where.”
she doesn’t approve of abortions. Most of use don’t, but it doesn’t matter if we approve or not. Are we -the cold and receptive world- willing to accept the ‘unwanted’ children? Three unwanted children or three hearts?
Soundtrack: Casting Crowns – Slow fade.