Miriams Story

My name is Miriam and I’m 23 years old.

Four years ago before my 19th birthday, I met a boy in my school who asked to be my boyfriend. 

I was in SS3 but he was in SS2 and a year younger than I was.  I agreed to be his girlfriend and in the second week of dating, he asked that we had sex.

I had never had sex at that time but when I agreed with my boyfriend, I asked that we used a condom, he refused to saying condoms do not give pleasure and he was going to make sure he did not ejaculate inside me.

We kept having unprotected sex for months until the fifth month I noticed my period was delayed.  I spoke to my boyfriend about it but he said it was normal as his sisters usually complain of missing their periods for some time.

Three weeks went by but I still didn’t see my period. I became very scared. I went online to search for the symptoms of pregnancy but I wasn’t experiencing any of the symptoms.

I told my boyfriend about my search result but I still insisted I take a pregnancy test to be sure.

That day after school, we visited a drugstore on our way home and bought a pregnancy test kit. The pharmacist asked that I should do the test first thing the next morning before I had my meal. Morning came and I had the test. It turned out positive and I almost lost my breath. I was in utter shock and confused about what to do.

I rushed to school immediately and told my boyfriend as soon as I could. He was as confused as I was. Asked him what we would do and he said he didn’t know but would let me know when he had a solution he kept avoiding me all through the day and wouldn’t talk to me.

On my way home, I had to stop at the drug store where I got the pregnancy test kit the previous day. I told the pharmacist that I had taken the test that morning and it was positive. 

He said he could help me get rid of the pregnancy. He gave me some pills called Cytotec and said I could take some of it orally and insert the rest into my private area. I got home and did as instructed. I was hoping to see my period the next day but nothing happened. I visited the pharmacist again and he said to wait for a week after giving me another pregnancy test kit to carry out yet another test. I took the test and waited in a panic. I was always in need of sleep and couldn’t pay attention in class. My boyfriend was still avoiding me.

Three weeks went by, I still had not seen my period. I went to the same drugstore but didn’t meet the pharmacists. Out of confusion I asked for the pills I was given the first time and when I got home I took the pills the same way I did the last time.

After a month and some weeks following the second medication, I still did not see my period. My body was beginning to change: body aches, nausea, dizziness and I was getting more frightened. 

I went back to the drugstore. This time the same pharmacist was there. He was attending to a Man. Before I could tell him about the ineffectiveness of the pills he gave me, he asked if I was still pregnant and I nodded with tears in my eyes.

“This your pregnancy is stubborn o. Just keep it and rest” He said with a smirk on his face and went ahead with what he was doing.

The man he was attending to looked at me from head to toe.  Before he left the store he said “All these small girls that won’t stop following boys up and down” and scoffed.

I broke down in tears and turned to leave. The pharmacist then told me to go to a hospital and have an evacuation even though he was sure that would be impossible since abortion was legally restricted and being a teenager I’m bound to get negative comments worse than what the man who just left made.

I decided to try at least before giving up so I went to a hospital. At the first hospital I went to, I met a nurse at the reception and I told her that I hadn’t seen my period when I was asked what I was there for. She didn’t respond. She kept looking at me then after a minute or so of silence she asked if I had a boyfriend. I answered in affirmation. She stared for a while and said bluntly “we don’t perform abortions here”.

I was surprised as to how she knew I was already pregnant. I stood looking into space and the next thing she said jolted me.

“We don’t kill children here. We help responsible women give birth” she barked at me.

“Better leave here before the police arrest you” she added

“Police?” I asked, looking at her confused. Why would the police arrest me in a hospital? As if she heard my thoughts, she responded

“You don’t know that abortion is a crime in this country?”

I shook my head in ignorance

“It’s even a taboo,” a voice added. Another nurse joined the receptionist. “In your village is abortion, not a taboo? Don’t you even go to church even? Do they not preach against abortion in your church?” She went on to ask how old I was. When I told her my age she laughed hysterically saying at my age she didn’t even know what sex was. 

The first nurse said she wondered if I even knew who got me pregnant. I told her I did and she waved me off showing signs of disbelief. 

The second nurse hissed and said to go home and let my parents know I was pregnant or wait till they found out themselves because it would show in no time.

“I wonder how her parents don’t even know yet. The moment she stepped into this place, I just knew”. The nurses went on chattering about other girls they knew who also got pregnant. Some they said tried to terminate the pregnancy through some means and lost their lives. 

I left the hospital feeling downcasted. I thought to try another but the responses were all not fruitful as the health facilities I visited asked that I either brought my parents to sign a waiver form or accept by fate and see the pregnancy to term as I do not have the right to abortion. I was afraid of trying any other method that wasn’t recommended medically for fear of losing my life as the nurses had said.

Some weeks later the pregnancy symptoms became very obvious and my parents actually found out that I was pregnant. I could no longer go to school and so could not take my final exams.  

I was pregnant for 6 months until I had a miscarriage. 

This would have been avoided if I had insisted on contraceptives with my boyfriend. Also after the miscarriage, I got to know that I did not follow the right method of taking the Cytotec pills I got from the drug store when I found out I was pregnant and that was because the pharmacist didn’t tell me the right way to take them.

The health facilities that were supposed to help after all these mistakes made it worse by denying me access to safe abortion due to the legal climate and their cultural beliefs.  

Safe abortion should be seen as health care for all women irrespective of age or the beliefs of the health providers. This will do more good in saving the lives of young girls like me who resorted to quack methods of terminating pregnancies and losing their lives in the process. They won’t even have to drop out of school if these services are not restricted.

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The Safe Bank Project provides resources for individuals and organizations advocating for access to safe abortion in Nigeria

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