A/N: I wrote this in response to the draconian laws passed in Georgia and Alabama regarding abortion. What would it look like if one of the characters in the HPverse choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy?
I used NHS website to find out the steps a British woman must take in order to obtain an abortion. According to the website, 1 in 3 British women will have an abortion in their lives. According to Planned Parenthood in the US, 1 in 4 women in the US will have an abortion before the age of 45. Furthermore, 6 in 10 women seeking to terminate a pregnancy already have children.
I've tried to reflect this to the best of my abilities.
Quiet descended on the small house as Katie closed the door behind George, Fred, Jacob, and Sophie. She slumped against the door with a sigh, and glanced at the clock on the wall. She had an hour to herself before she had to leave for work. The dishes in the sink could wait. So could the pile of laundry. All she wanted was a quiet cup of tea. She was exhausted.
She made a fresh cup of tea, using a hidden tin of tea leaves she reserved for days like this. While waiting for the tea to steep, Katie found herself studying the wall calendar. There was no small asterisk in any day for that month. She took the calendar down and set it on the table, flipping back until she found the mark that indicated the last time she'd had a period. It had been two months ago. 'No, no, no, no…' Katie whispered. She couldn't be.
The previous month had been somewhat chaotic. Sophie had come down with dragon pox, which usually wasn't something to worry overmuch about. However, Sophie's fever stubbornly refused to come down and she'd spent a few days in St. Mungo's. Perhaps she'd gotten her period then, and in the blur of that awful week, had simply forgotten to mark it in the calendar.
But deep down, she knew that was not the case.
Katie was willing to admit she'd missed a few pills last month.
And perhaps the Saturday night with no children in the house and the bottle of wine that had led to some rather uninhibited sex shared some of the blame.
She mechanically grabbed a scrap of parchment and scribbled a note to her editor. She wasn't going into work that day. Once the owl was aloft, Katie grabbed her bag and headed for the pharmacy. There was no use getting into a strop over something until she had confirmation.
The pharmacy wasn't terribly busy. Katie went straight to the aisle with the pregnancy tests and tucked five boxes into the crook of her arm. The middle-aged lady at the till looked askance at the boxes. 'Wantin' to be sure, ducks?' Katie just glared at her, handed over the Muggle banknotes to pay, then rushed back to the house. She dumped the carrier bag on the bathroom counter and went back into the kitchen for the largest glass they had, and filled it with water. Katie forced herself to drink the entire glass, then refilled it and drank it down again.
'Come on…' she muttered, pacing around the sitting room. 'Right then. Waterfalls. Rivers…' She clenched her teeth and stalked into the bathroom and turned on the tap. Any time she did the washing up, the sound of running water sent her scurrying for the loo. It couldn't hurt. She retrieved the glass and refilled it, taking it back to the bathroom. She gulped half the glass of water, and removed all ten tests from their boxes and wrappers, lining them up neatly on the counter. She felt a sudden pressure in her bladder and scrambled to shove her jeans down while snatching the first test off the counter. 'One, two, three, four, five…' she counted and set the test aside before picking up the next one and repeating the process. She managed three tests before she had to stop.
Katie kicked off her jeans and pulled up her knickers, then washed her hands. She refilled the glass, and took a deep breath, then picked up the first test.
It was positive.
So was the second.
And the third.
And the next seven tests.
She sat on the edge of the tub, ten plus symbols staring back at her, feeling quite numb. 'Pull yourself together,' Katie mumbled. She pushed herself to her feet and swept the tests into the carrier bag, then jabbed her wand at the packaging, Vanishing the evidence. She left the carrier bag in the bedroom she shared with George and stood next to the bed trying to sort through the tangle of thoughts racing through her head. She returned to the sitting room, and picked up her coat.
There was only one person to whom she could speak about this just now.
Belinda set a mug of tea in front of Katie. 'You did how many?'
Katie cradled the mug between her cold hands, the warmth seeping into her palms. 'Ten,' she admitted.
'And all positive?'
'Yes,' Katie mumbled.
Belinda sat in the chair to Katie's left. 'And I'm going to surmise this is not happy news.'
'How could you tell?' Katie asked sarcastically.
'If you were thrilled by it, you wouldn't be here,' Belinda said, as if Katie had asked the question in sincerity. 'What do you want to do?'
Katie took a slow sip of the well-sugared tea. 'Not have it.'
'Right. How would you like to do it?' Belinda responded briskly.
Belinda flicked her wand at a high cupboard. A small vial filled with a blood red potion floated into her hand. 'You can take this. It's what they'd give you at St. Mungo's.'
'How long does it take?'
'Depends,' Belinda sighed. 'Could take a few hours, could take all day. And they want you to stay there for a day or two.'
Katie shook her head. 'I don't have time for that.'
Belinda set the vial down and laced her fingers together. 'How far gone are you?'
'Seven, eight weeks at the most.'
'Surgical, then. The actual procedure takes a few minutes, then you'll stay a bit so they can monitor you, and you'll be home before you can say Bob's your uncle.'
Katie nodded, sipping her tea. 'Fine. What do I need to do?'
'Call for an initial appointment. You don't have a GP, obviously, so one of the family planning clinics will do. They'll verify the pregnancy and give you a referral to an abortion provider and set up an appointment. Then you'll visit the provider's clinic. They'll do another assessment, run some tests, and perform the abortion. You can even do it on the same day. Start to finish, three or four hours.' Belinda shrugged. 'Generally speaking, of course. You might have to wait a bit for the appointment at the abortion clinic. Could be a few days. Could be a week.'
Katie blew out a slow breath. 'Have you had many women sit in this same spot, drinking your tea, while you walk them through the process?'
'More than you think.' Belinda lifted her mug to her mouth. 'Women don't talk about it. So much shame wrapped around it. It they're single, they're irresponsible slags. If they already have children, they're cold and heartless bitches, because being a mother is the most wonderful thing in the world,' she said dryly. 'And don't even get me started on Ireland. That horrible business with Savita Halappanvanar.' Belinda got up and returned with an ordinary pencil and a pad of paper. She scribbled a number on the topmost sheet of paper and ripped it off. 'There's a telephone in my bedroom. Go make an appointment.'
'Thanks, Mum.' Katie took the paper and went into her parents' bedroom. The telephone sat on her mother's side of the bed. The call was mercifully brief and the nearest family planning clinic in Islington had an appointment available in a few days. Katie returned to the kitchen and gulped her cooling tea.
'Are you going to tell George?' Belinda asked idly. 'You're not required to, of course.'
'I…' The words died in Katie's throat. 'I hadn't thought about it.'
Belinda patted her hand. 'Just think about it.'
Without a doubt, magic helped. She could do the washing up with magic, as well as the laundry, but someone had to actually do it. Someone also had to supervise the twins' homework. Read with Sophie. Make sure all three children got up in the morning and dressed for school. That their uniforms were presentable. Oversee baths. Someone needed to shop for food. Remember to buy toothpaste. Replace worn out clothes and shoes. And the twins were murder on trainers. Magic could only go so far to repair them. To clean the house and pick up the twins' wet towels in the bathroom. The children did as much as they could, but they were all underage and weren't able to use magic. So someone had to supervise them. George tried to do his share, but he worked long hours most days, including Saturdays. The shop only closed on Sundays.
Fred and Jacob were rambunctious boys, who readily included Sophie in their games. Sophie was no shrinking violet, either. She gave just as good as she got when it came to her brothers. They were highly inquisitive children who left no stone unturned when there might be something interesting under it.
George. He'd run the shop with Ron for nearly fifteen years, but still experienced bouts of crippling anxiety about whether or not Fred would want something done a certain way. He never celebrated his birthday. He disappeared inside himself the first few days of May. Christmas could be a struggle. The random days he succumbed to the grief he still carried. Katie begrudged him none of it. She'd married George with complete awareness that his emotional wounds had not yet completely healed and might not ever do so.
Then to add a newborn to the mix?
George would take some time off from the shop, of course. But the bulk of the infant's care would fall to her. Her maternity leave would end eventually, then she would have to find child care. Katie would breastfeed if she could, just as she had the twins and Sophie. Could she still do everything she did at home with a baby in one arm and her wand in the other? Could she manage the sleep deprivation all over again?
The dishes put away, clothes folded, all three children asleep, Katie sank to the sofa next to George, who was dozing over a copy of the Prophet. 'George?' Katie said softly.
He sat up, snorting, the newspaper crinkling as his hands jerked. 'What? 'M awake.'
'We need to talk,' Katie told him. 'Or rather, I'm going to talk and you're going to listen.'
George stilled, the newspaper falling to the floor from his fingers. Even in his groggy state, he could tell the house was quiet as it could only be once all three children were asleep. He felt a surge of guilt, as he had meant to put the children to bed. It was a far too common occurrence of late, promising to take on more responsibilities at home, then utterly failing to follow through. That had to be what she wanted to talk about. He scrubbed his hands over his face, peering around the sitting room. Surely there was something left to do tonight before he and Katie went to bed themselves. Perhaps I can do the washing up, he told himself. Katie didn't care how it got done, really, as long as it was done. He reached for the newspaper and folded it, then started to stand up.
Katie put a hand on George's knee, and he sat back against the cushions. 'I'm pregnant.' George opened his mouth, but Katie cut him off. 'I'm not going to have it. I have an appointment next Tuesday. You can come with me. If you feel as if you can't take a day of, then my mum will.'
'I can't do it, George. I can't. And I do not want another baby. I can barely cope with the children we have now.'
George laid one of his hands over Katie's. 'If this is what you want…'
'It is,' she replied, quietly, but firmly.