The answer is you don’t.
We know people choose to not continue pregnancies for reasons as diverse as their lived experiences. For many, the decision to terminate a pregnancy is embedded in their experiences of poverty, inadequate housing, food security, and lack of support from their partners, families and communities. Whatever the individual circumstances, each of us can only make decisions about the options that are truly available to us.
We understand decision-making is an inherently fractured process. Some decisions are absolutely easier to make than others; we encourage exploring the reasons why those decisions are easy and others are not. We help people identify their own values and to honour the reasons underneath their decision, while exploring how misogyny and patriarchy can influence their choices. Grounding their experiences in their own truth and experiences helps develop identity and agency. For many people, a decision around a pregnancy offers an opportunity to become the author of their own lives and to define their lives in their own terms, sometimes for the first time.
In post-abortion counselling work, we unpack what possibly lies behind the notion of regret. Together, we work to explore the emotions of abortion for what they really are: loss, relief, guilt, and grief. We affirm that even the strongest emotions are not always an indication of a wrong decision. All post-abortion feelings are normal. In this way, we help those who choose abortion to own their decision, grounding it as a choice they’ve made within the context of their lives as they really live them, while shedding societal expectations and post-abortion narratives that aren’t really theirs.
For us, “I regret my abortion” is not the final word about choice. It’s where the conversation starts.