When Emily-Jane Clark got pregnant at age 16, she knew there was a life growing inside her.
Right up to the moment of her abortion, Clark said she was not sure that it was what she wanted to do. But she aborted her unborn baby anyway, because she had dreams and aspirations. Because a baby could get in the way.
In a column for the Metro, Clark said her abortion was a terrible experience. She described how thoughts of her aborted baby haunted her for years. Yet, she also advocated strongly for abortion for other teens and women who find themselves in difficult situations.
“It took me a long time to forgive myself for having a termination and even longer to realise I had nothing to forgive myself for,” Clark wrote. “… It is a complicated and emotional decision. It not the easy choice, and it’ll possibly never feel like the right choice, but it is YOUR choice.”
Clark and her boyfriend of two years found out they were pregnant at age 16. She said she did not believe the doctor at first because they used contraception and only had sex occasionally.
Here’s more from her column:
We left the doctor’s surgery that day in shock. Neither of us knew what to say so we didn’t speak. We just sat on a bench smoking cigarettes in the rain, our young minds desperately trying to process the news.
I couldn’t understand how it could have happened. Girls like me didn’t get pregnant. I had only ever slept with one boy. I wasn’t stupid. I knew about contraception and I thought I’d been careful.
I had plans – I was going to finish college, move to London and be an actor. Having a baby was not part of my plan.
‘Well, I’m not having a baby,’ I finally said feigning nonchalance and bravado. ‘I can’t keep it. We can’t.’
‘Are you sure?’ he asked weakly, struggling to work out how he was supposed to react.
‘I think so,’ I replied and we did the ultimate walk of shame home to tell my parents the big news.
On the day of her abortion, she said she panicked. Realizing that she was about to have her unborn baby’s life destroyed, Clark said she burst into tears.
“‘Are you sure?’ asked the anaesthetist before he put me to sleep,” she remembered. “I wished people would stop asking me whether I was sure. I was not sure.”
Later, Clark said she grieved deeply and felt guilty for what she had done. She said she tortured herself by imagining what her baby would have looked like. She imagined that it was a boy with blond hair and hazel eyes.
Despite her pain, she justified having her unborn baby killed by saying that she and her boyfriend were just children themselves, that they had plans for college and careers and no money.
“It wouldn’t have been fair on anyone to bring a baby into our world,” she wrote.
Inconvenient is a better word. She and her boyfriend knew that by having sex, even with birth control, there was a chance of pregnancy. And it’s clear that she understood, even at 16, that she was carrying a human life inside her – a living, unique human child conceived as a result of her and her boyfriend’s choices. What is unfair is killing an unborn baby who is alive and growing through no fault of their own, who depends on their mother and father to protect them.
Feelings of guilt and grief often accompany an abortion for a reason: A child’s life has been destroyed. Clark’s child was a unique, living human being who deserved the same opportunities that she and her former boyfriend have had – to live, to dream, to grow up and have a family, get an education and pursue the career of their choice.
Ultimately, Clark doesn’t regret her decision.
“While I don’t regret the decision I made as a teenager, I do regret not talking about what I was going through.”