Alden Boon

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



Jennifer Heng Safe Place Lakeside

You said that in retrospect, you were looking for love in all the wrong places. Did all your relationships go up in flames?

I had a boyfriend, “Leon”, whom I knew from church. He was an angelic goody two-shoes; in the eyes of others he could do no wrong. I was, on the other hand, the devil, and whenever a problem arose, it must have been my fault. I guess that’s why I tried to find someone with not-so-great qualities, so that in comparison I was “better” than he. It’s a very warped thought pattern.

And Boon entered the picture.

“Boon” was from a middle-income family; his father was a high-ranking civil servant. He, however, was a rebellious lad. Smoking, drinking, playing truant, he did it all. It taught me that you could never judge a book by its cover. In me there stirred an epiphany that I didn’t have to accept that façade of perfection anymore. Being with Boon made me feel better about myself. Next to him, I was now the angel. He said “I love you” to me, and with those three words I was his, completely.

Take us through your state of mind leading up to the moment you realised you were pregnant.

I had done well enough to enrol into a junior college, and I was attending church. But there was a gnawing feeling that something was wrong: I had missed my period for four months. One day, I finally mustered up the courage to see a doctor and he confirmed that I was pregnant. Looking at the ultrasound scan was an out-of-body experience — it was as if I was looking at someone else’s! I was in disbelief, completely devastated, and at a loss. In my mind there was only one clear option: I couldn’t keep the baby.

The young doctor was kind and sympathetic, and I could tell he was so reluctant to, but ethically he had to acquiesce to my request. He wrote me a referral letter and I was to go to Mount Elizabeth for my abortion.

Inverted Comma

Be she a friend, a loved one or a daughter, you cannot protect her from everything. What you can do is to be there for her. Let her know that you believe in her. It will not be her impetus to change; but when that moment of breakthrough comes, that moment when she does decide to change, she will remember that there is someone who believes in her. Slowly, over time, maybe she can. I did.

Inverted Comma Bottom

Didn’t you learn about protected sex in school?

There weren’t any sex education classes during my time. I actually thought: “It would never happen to me. I would never get pregnant out of wedlock.” Hence, there was never a conscious effort to avoid pregnancy; I never insisted that Boon put on contraceptives, and I didn’t always check if he did. I wasn’t so much in control as I thought I was. I was seventeen years old, twenty-two weeks pregnant when I had an abortion — the first time.

Could you describe the hours between finding out you’re pregnant and actually having the abortion?

I hated myself for being trapped in a situation where I had to make such a horrible decision. I told Boon, but he couldn’t offer me any other option. He himself was terrified, perhaps more so than I, yet he wasn’t the one who had to undergo an abortion. There was this dreadful hopelessness that closed in and choked me.

Most girls in crises turn to their mothers for solace and guidance. Did you do so?

I didn’t, and it was my pride rearing its ugly head. I was too proud to go to her with a problem, and a huge one at that. I wanted her to think of me as the perfect daughter who could do no wrong, not as another disappointment in her life. I told no one else other than Boon: By now I was so emotionally stretched, and I didn’t want to have to hear someone else’s thoughts.

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