My then-girlfriend and I were college sophomores when she fell pregnant. It was, without question, the worst experience of my life.
Of course, it was my fault. I prided myself on being “pull out king.” I had always engaged in condom-free sex with previous girlfriends, trusting that I would have enough self-control to withdraw at the proper time. What I failed to take into account, however, was that those girls were also on the Pill or some other kind of birth control. At first, Cass (not her real name) and I had no idea when exactly she got pregnant because she has an irregular period. When her period had been delayed for nearly three months, I knew something was amiss.
I remember driving aimlessly around Makati and being unable to get out of the car. Eventually I found a pharmacy. That walk to the cashier, pregnancy tests in hand, was an extremely embarrassing and vulnerable experience. Not that any of the staff actually cared, but I was ashamed that I always thought I would be the exception. Teen pregnancies were stories shared among huddled friends eating cheap dinners. Teen pregnancies were the stuff of MTV junk. It never occurred to me that I could actually be responsible for one.
She took a pregnancy test every morning over the course of three days. All positive. I remember the terrible joke I told her at the time. “We fucked, and now we’re fucked!” She didn’t laugh.
Eventually, we had to think about our options. Letting this baby come to term was not one of them. We were terrified that neither of our parents would help, that they would disown us. We didn’t want to stop studying or disrupt the flow of our lives. My girlfriend wanted to be a lawyer. We didn’t have the luxury of time. And let’s not even get started on our financial situation back then.
Cass had her best friend go to the one place everyone knew to go—Quiapo. Sure enough, behind what appeared to be a shop selling religious items was actually a front for abortifacient pills and liquids. Her best friend procured a 10-pack of pills and came to meet us in a motel room we had booked for the weekend. We brought our own sheets, afraid Cass would bleed and we’d have to pay extra.
According to the Quiapo vendor, five pills were to be taken orally, and the other five were to be taken vaginally. Cass took five and lay down. I asked her to spread her legs and inserted the other five myself. Jesus Christ, what an experience. Cass was tired—she’d been tired from crying and agonizing all week—and fell asleep instantly. I couldn’t sleep one wink.
Early the next morning (around 6 hours had passed), Cass woke up and rushed to the bathroom. I waited in bed; I was too nervous to follow. I figured she needed some time alone. Later on, I walked over to the bathroom and found her sitting there quietly. Her hand was cupped between her legs. “It’s a small, red mass,” she said matter-of-factly. I couldn’t bring myself to look. We flushed our unborn child—whom we later found out was around six weeks old—down the toilet.
Three months later, Cass and I broke up. The gravity of what we had done hovered like a dark cloud and strained our relationship. We couldn’t go on pretending things were normal, and I punished myself for making her go through that ordeal in the first place. I hope she’s happy right now.
About four years have passed since we made the mutual decision to terminate Cass’s pregnancy. It’s easy for me to talk about now; I remember feeling like it was the end of the world back then. But I couldn’t have possibly been a good father to that child. Not everyone might agree with what I did, and that’s okay. I messed up, and when I meet my Maker, there’ll be consequences. It’s a ghost of my past I’ll never be able to shake off completely.