Liz Thomas is a twenty-year-old Maori/Pakeha student at the University of Auckland. She grew up in Mangere Bridge, South Auckland and in 2010 received an opportunity, on the First Chapters programme, to explore her passion for life writing and tell her story.
No one had ever talked to me about contraception. My parents and I had never discussed ‘the birds and the bees’ and here I was, fifteen and pregnant. I stopped at the chemist on the way to my friend’s house and bought a pregnancy test. I already knew the result, even before the test, you get a feeling. I stood awkwardly in the tiny toilet at my friend’s and stared at the torn pale wallpaper as I waited for the test to confirm what I already knew. I came out of the toilet and simply said to my mate, “I’m pregnant".
“Well just have an abortion,” she replied matter-of-factly as she squashed the cigarette butt down into the over-crowded ashtray. I lit a cigarette. We sat in silence for a few minutes as she carried on flicking through her magazine. I don’t know what I was quite expecting, hugs, tears maybe, or “Oh my God, what are we gunna do? Are you gunna tell your Mum?”
I couldn’t believe what was happening. Apparently it was simple, you just told the nurse you wanted an abortion and she gave you a time and a date. Then it would be over and you would just get on with your life. Whether I kept this baby or not, I knew my life would change forever and the thought scared me. I lit another cigarette.
“You have two days to decide what you want to do with it,” the Nurse said as she threw me a couple of pamphlets. I felt stupid. She made me feel stupid. “You have four options,” she said harshly as she flicked through the pamphlet, “Either have an abortion, adopt it, keep it, or since you’re Māori you might want to whāngai it.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “So I’ll book you in for an appointment on Thursday and you can give us your decision,” she stated. I never went back.
It was a cold overcast Tuesday. I stepped out of the Family Planning clinic and onto the busy street. For that nurse it was just another day at work, another Tuesday. I walked dazed through the mall, fifteen years old, seven weeks pregnant and alone, with a few pamphlets shoved in my bag, my future written all over them.
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