Huyen had only been dating her boyfriend, Duc, for a few months when she found out she was pregnant. Huyen didn’t love Duc and knew he wouldn’t make a good husband, but in Vietnam having a child outside marriage is unacceptable. If her parents and neighbors found out, she would be cut off and the family persecuted. So it was simple—Huyen would just have the pregnancy terminated.
Vietnam has the third highest abortion rate in the world. In 2010 the abortion ratio was estimated at 25 per cent and more than 1.2 million occur annually, some women having up to eight abortions in their lifetime. Contraception is difficult to obtain, while abortion is legal and freely available at any age. As a result, many women use abortion as a form of contraception.
Talking about sex and sexual health issues is still taboo in Vietnam. Some new government initiatives have begun to educate young people in safer sex and sexually transmitted infections, but unwanted pregnancies are still terminated with little thought and are seen as having little impact on the women’s health or psychological wellbeing.
Huyen was planning to do what every other woman in Vietnam would do, but the more she thought about it, the more she realized she didn’t want to; she’d always wanted a family. So after several days Huyen finally chose to marry her boyfriend and began preparing for the wedding. Things seemed to be working out until a month before the ceremony when Duc stopped talking to her. Duc started seeing another girl and told Huyen he didn’t want to get married.
Huyen was afraid and, blaming the baby for all her problems, did the only thing she could think of—she had an abortion.