Alden Boon

By 19, Jennifer Heng Already Had Two Abortions. This Is Her Story of Secret Shame, Self-forgiveness and Triumph.

14/02/2018

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‘Do it quickly; do it tomorrow. Don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret I will bring to my grave.’ A young girl or woman who has made up her mind to have an abortion is very hard to reach. When someone is facing a “crisis pregnancy”, decision-making is often driven by fear. Fear can make someone withdraw instead of reaching for help. I’d like to encourage these women to take a step of courage and reach out for help. A trusted friend or older person, or a pregnancy crisis hotline or organisation. Remember that you are not alone.

What happened next?

I showed up at the gynaecologist’s. I can still remember the doctor’s stern eyes and frustration — this was twenty years ago, and there wasn’t a lot of empathy for pregnant teen girls. He, however, did not go through with the termination as he deemed that I was too far along. I felt like I had a knife at my throat. I wandered along Orchard Road, not knowing what to do. Then I recalled my first doctor. I went to a Giodarno outlet — back in those days, the outlets had free phones that you could use — and called him. I begged him to help me. He told me he could refer me to another doctor who was less reputable, who saw all kinds of patients, including prostitutes.

He said “prostitutes”?    

Yes, I think he was trying to steer me away from the idea of having an abortion. But I didn’t care; I just wanted this “problem” over and done with.

At the time, were you aware of the gravity of your decision to have an abortion?

I knew instinctively it was wrong. That feeling of cold remorse surfaced not after I had the abortion, but during the hours when I hardened my resolve to have one. Something in me died: decency, morality, and everything that was good and pure.

What was the one thing that compelled you to make such an impossible decision?

Fear. It was the fear that I would not be able to have the perfect future I had envisioned for myself. I was so consumed by this fear that I was willing to do anything, even kill my own baby.

Jennifer Heng Abortion Lakeside Safe Place
Turning her life around: Jennifer has made it her life's work to reach out to and help girls and women with unsupported pregnancies.

How should we help young girls or women who find themselves in such a situation?

It is a difficult ground to tread. For girls and women in this situation, this is a decision that is very hard to make. A crisis tests our beliefs and values. I was facing challenging family circumstances — both my parents were not around — and though I was attending church, I was a lost Christian wandering aimlessly. I had no foundation and no one to depend on, and I made a decision based on what I thought was right at the time.

To have an abortion or keep the child? It’s a dilemma you do not think about until it happens to you, a friend or a loved one. There are two extreme schools of thought. Conservatives decry abortions; they believe that abortion is murder. Conversely, liberals may say, “God will understand. It doesn’t make sense for you to have a child now.” Yet, as a society we need to have a strong moral fibre.

Abortion is often perceived as a quick solution to a problem. Yet, no woman ever regards abortion as easy. When a woman decides to end the life of her child, it’s something she’ll remember for the rest of her life. When dealing with someone in this situation, we need to assure her of our presence and love. As a friend, you may feel a vicarious anger and go, “Why isn’t the guy stepping up and accepting responsibility? I will go tear his house down!” But it doesn’t help her, because on top of everything, she now has to deal with your emotions.

Today as a help professional, one of the things I do when helping a girl or woman in crisis is to identify the most influential person in her circle. Who is a calming presence that can render support? I identify what it is she needs to make a decision. Choosing to have an abortion is a knee-jerk reaction — is it really the lesser of two evils in this situation? Even if she keeps the baby, she can give him or her up for adoption. And if she decides to keep the baby, what resources does she need to thrive as a parent?

Read also: Bhas Karan: From Army Commander to BODYATTACK Instructor

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.

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