The story of my termination happened 31 years ago and there is hardly a day goes by when I don't regret it. I am lucky that I went on to have two healthy grown up children and am going to be a grandma for the first time in the summer of next year.
The reason I am telling this story is to hopefully help women and young girls understand that this is never going to be an easy decision, despite what the Pro-lifers tell us, but more importantly make this your decision and never one you are talked or forced into, there will always be help out there.
Here is my story.
In the late summer of 1982 I discovered I was pregnant! I had only left school a few months earlier and had no job and had been living with my sister and brother in law. The result scared me and I hoped (naively) that ignoring it would make it go away.
My sister who was also pregnant at the time with her first child told me in no uncertain terms that if I were to keep the baby I would be homeless. She screamed that she would throw me out. Unfortunately I was too afraid to go home and tell my mum, we never had a close enough relationship for me to share the news with her, and to this day she never found out.
I finally had to make an appointment to see my G.P who was very unsympathetic. He said I would not be allowed to have a termination on the NHS, he booked me in to the hospital for an antenatal check up which seemed to take weeks to come through. I saw a Gynaecologist at the end of January 1983. He was rude and abrupt and gave me an internal examination which felt uncomfortably rough! I was then told it was too late for a termination on the NHS.
My sister said having a baby at 17 would "ruin my life" and that she and my brother in law would pay for me to have the operation done privately, (was I supposed to be grateful for this?) I had to travel to Leeds from my home in Humberside for a check up, this was actually the most understanding I ever had from anyone. They asked me questions such as was it my decision etc, and like a robot I answered yes to all their questions, inside I was an extremely frightened young girl.
A few weeks later at 15 weeks pregnant I was taken on a 300 mile journey from my home to a private clinic in Brighton. I was left to my own devices with an envelope full of cash.
We stayed for one night in colour coded rooms, I can remember I was in the pink room. The next day we had to stand in a queue and hand over half of our cash. They laughed at me when I gave them the envelope with all the money in and walked away. I was the youngest there.
The following day I was relieved to hear that I would be the first person to go down to theatre, however there had been a problem so I was left in a wheelchair outside the operating theatre. Had I been one more week into my pregnancy I would have had to have been put onto a drip to induce the labour, I witnessed other women in corridors going through this procedure. They resembled zombies from a horror film.
Eventually I was taken into pre-op and given an anaesthetic which I felt run cold through my veins. I don't remember anything other than waking up covered in blood, and everyone else sat at a big long table eating, laughing and chatting, like some kind of mad hatters tea party.
I called my boyfriend straight away, he was cold and upset with me at having gone through with it, but truth be told I felt torn.
I have tried desperately over the years to forgive my sister, but I just have so many regrets. I regret the fact that I didn't run away from that clinic and use the cash to get on a train back home and tell someone who would understand and listen to me.
My sister went on to have her beautiful baby boy, (her only child) and two years later at 19 I went on to have a beautiful baby girl followed by a gorgeous little boy.
So please take heed from this story. If you are a woman or a young girl who feels pressured like I did into making a big decision you feel that you may later regret, please find someone to talk to who is not involved emotionally in any way. This impartial advice could help you in not living with a lifetime of regrets and feeling bitterness towards someone I should love.
It is hard to read a story like yours with such sadness and regret for so many years, and sad to hear of your broken relationship with your sister. I agree with your advice as I think women who struggle after an abortion often seem to have felt pressurised into a decision they feel either uncertain about, or trapped into making. There is often then anger with those involved and with themselves for not being stronger to stand up to the pressure.
Even after 31 years it could help you to talk this through with a post abortion counsellor, and I would encourage you to see someone, or talk to someone. You can call the national helpline, log on to Online advisor, or follow the link to find a centre for post abortion support in your area.