Abortion survivors, Ivory Coast and France

Abortion survivors, they share their stories »


emma eLLes

 » I am Ivorian living in the Ivory Coast and activist for women’s rights regardless of their origin, their sexual identity and gender identity. « 

I have decided to share with my story of abortion 

 When I was 25 I realize I was pregnant. I had just got an internship and I had been with my boyfriend for 3 months only. Because I did not use any contraception I was not surprised. (I started taking the pill on a regular basis in senior class, but I got pregnant. I just went to the Chemist’s and I asked for the pill without any medical advice, a girlfriend had advised me). I was three weeks pregnant and my partner made it clear he did not want a child and he even threatened to leave me. (My relationship made my mom happy and I still cared for him. I was in such a hassle, I was aware that having a child was not the best thing to do in my situation. I already had a daughter and I don’t know why I started to worry about what God thought of me. Finally, I eventually decided to abort. I instinctively sought advice from my sister (we all do the the same, either from a sister or a friend or acquaintance, but rarely from the hospital). She advised me some medication which helped to stop the pregnancy after three days of suffering, I therefore took antibiotics and other drugs which did not help me since two weeks later I was still in pain and I felt really bad.


I went to see the chemist’s and explained that I had an infection because it just looked like one. He prescribed me some medication I took but which still did not help. On top of that I felt morally very bad. So I went to see a priest to whom I explained what I was going through. He made me feel guilty, he made me clearly understand that this three-week foetus was a human being I had killed. He asked me to give him a name, which I did: I called him Jean-Charles and I had a mass said for him. Imagine how weird it was to be sitting in a room and it was announced that a sister asked for forgiveness for the rest of the soul of her child and it was said that she got an abortion. People were already gossiping a little and it made me sink even more in my guilt. I realized that our conversation, the mass and all that really did not help me. I starting to stop eating, I spent all my time at the Church. I attended a group of prayers, I made my partner follow me. Basically this abortion made me feel really depressed. And then one day, my boyfriend made me sit down. He made me realize that I was screwing up my life and that I had killed noone and basically it helped me a lot. As for my health, something was really wrong but the look of the nursing staff on me scared me so I kept taking my self medication. After a year I finally decided to go and see a gynecologist but I said nothing about my abortion. He made me a prescription that helped me a lot in any case. Despite all that, I didn’t realize that what I did was not legal. So for me it was right to abort: we had access to drugs but no one explained the risks to which we were exposed to. Finally, in 2017, a person who is very close to me, already a mother and pregnant from her lover decided to have an abortion, and her partner threatened to have her lock up. After having received information about it, I realized that he had the right to do so. I discovered a law entirely written on the abortion ban. (I share the link with you :  https://www.loidici.com/codepenalcentral/codepenalenfant.php.)

 « Abortion is punished » takes all its meaning. Bitterly, I realized that I had right to nothing but prohibitions. In short I’m afraid to have an abortion again, I’m afraid when a loved one needs one too. So nobody is really interested in what we’re going through, we let religion make things worse for ourselves so that abortion disgusts us… My battle today is that we get the right to have an abortion, to be well looked after because it is a right to decide what we want to do with our body. »

Céline eLLes

 » I am 28 years old woman and I was educated as a catholic school in a family which did not practice regularly. My sexual education consisted in a book about « safe sex » which was in the bookcase of the lounge, and the condoms in the chest of drawers in the hall of my house. I had access to free contraception at my doctor’s since puberty. 

I have chosen to talk to you about my story about abortion.

Dreadful, awful, shameful … but if I was to be in the same situation, I would do exactly the same, yesterday … and tomorrow. I got pregnant under coil when I was 22 and had been living with my partner for six months. And because it is my business, I will not say anything about the emotional torments this piece of news brings, I will speak about what it is to be a candidate to abortion in France. It was efficient, quick, free and anonymous. I had felt sick for more than a week. I had a blood test to check if I did not have an amenia. Then a nice lady came, she was embarrassed and whispered to me that I was pregnant, although the waiting-room was empty. I contacted my family doctor who directed me immediately to a free public hospital not far from my place. I called and I was given an appointment by the secretary right away. I met the doctor. I was given a week to think about it. Once my decision was made, I moved heaven and earth to get the phone number of the surgeon (a man) who was going to operate on me. He was icy and in a hurry but he answered my questions, making me understand that he was performing this kind of routine surgery all day long. So no worries, young lady!

On dreadful D-day, I went to the hospital I met a new doctor who spoke gobbledygook but everything went fine. Quick, efficient, free and cold.

I had difficulty coping with this surgery so the hospital suggested I saw a psychologist. She was compassionate though useless but I liked the idea. So as a person I was well looked after to go through this ordeal and the grief process both emotionally and spiritually. I did not feel I was supported in a way I imagine therapeutic care. It remains a traumatic and guilty-inducing experience performed in total secrecy. But it is a right: free anonymous essential access is provided, offered to us?

Our mothers, our aunts, our grandmothers have literally and ideologically fought so that French woman could have this right.

French women have had access to voluntary interruption of pregnancy for 42 years after the Veil Law was passed. This mythic law established the decriminalization of abortion. 220 000 women are concerned every year, which makes one woman out of 3 ! Things have improved as regards access to abortion, complete refund and also the fact a woman can decide whether she is minor or adult.

I belong to this category of women who are big on anything that concerns the notion of “my body, my choice «and I see these advances as a victory for the freedom of women.

It is thanks to feminists who just acted for all the others that abortion has become a right. We all know that illegal abortions are still performed in dreadful human and sanitary conditions with filthy financial bargains all around the world.

Thanks to Simone Veil, The female minister of Health of the time, this issue has become essential and abortion has become legally supervised.

I have also realized that it became obvious that although my first intercourses appeared to me on equal bases, I had in fact total responsibility of all the consequences of our lovemaking. It made me grow up so quickly, gave me so much pain, it seems so unfair! You bet women are less frivolous, more reserved! What a discovery at the time! How innocent I was! Looking back, I see the young girl I was as totally uneducated. I also remember that only women have found the right words. The men who were around did not know what to say, out of fear, embarrassment, lack of knowledge on the issue. I have been lucky to have women around me who repeated as a mantra “a foetus is not a child. It is not a choice but clear evidence.” And it is thanks to this wise words that I could go forward.

What about you? What is the reality of abortion in your country? What is the history of it? What is your experience of it? How would you like it to change?





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