Abortion debate: Readers' views

A woman going through a door Image copyright iStock

A feature about a mother-of-two who had an abortion aged 35 provoked a variety of reactions from readers.

The author of the original article wrote that she had the abortion because she felt her two young daughters would suffer with another child in the family - a decision she says was not straightforward.

We invited readers to share their own views and experiences. Here is a selection of those received, chosen to reflect a range of opinions.

Why should the child pay for the mistakes of the parents? I had a surprise baby (number three) and wondered how I would cope, but I can tell you, when I cradled my precious, precious son in my arms on the day of his birth, I realised that every interminable week of nausea, agonising pubic pain and dealing with two exhausting toddlers was absolutely worth it. He is 10 now and huge. I am so so glad that he had the opportunity to live, breath and experience all that life has to offer. Children are a gift, we should receive them as such.

Naomi, UK

I found out I was pregnant again when my son was four months old. I already had a seven-year-old daughter. We'd waited six years to have another baby, as I was 19 when I had my daughter. I was devastated when I found out. I have never understood how people could commit suicide and right at that moment it looked like an option. My husband came home from work one day and said: "Let's just go though with it." The consultation was booked for the next week. Getting though that week was very hard. We had to make reasons up for my mum looking after the children. When I woke up after the procedure, I burst into tears with relief. I feel guilt still 11 years later. I do sometimes think: "What if?" - but then I know at the time I just couldn't have gone though with it. I don't like the word "abortion" - I have to call it "termination".

Anonymous

We chose to terminate a pregnancy because at the 12-week scan it was revealed our baby had a foetal abnormality. The abortion procedure was horrific. And then I was left infertile. Had I not been trying for another baby, I would never have known this and suffered pain and discomfort without any medical assistance. I was ignored by the clinic. The abortion clinic told me repeatedly that it was nothing to do with the abortion. This wasn't true, as the NHS revealed. The abortion not only left me fighting for my fertility, it left us both with deep scars. One minute it was a much-loved baby. The next I was trying to justify killing it. That we were left to flap around emotionally and trying to establish what was wrong with me afterwards is not something I can easily shake. Looking at my child I am reminded that we lost another who died through our "choice". That's also now very hard to get my head around.

Alison, UK

Abortion rates

Image copyright iStock
  • In 2014, 54% of women undergoing abortions in England and Wales had had one or more previous pregnancies that resulted in a live or stillbirth
  • In 2004 the rate of women aged 30 to 34 having an abortion was 14.5 per 1,000. It had risen to 16.5 per 1,000 in 2014. Rates for women aged 35 or over have gone up from 6.8 per 1,000 to 7.4
  • Six in 10 American women having an abortion are already mothers

Sources: UK Department of Health and the Guttmacher Institute, US.

[To the author of the original article] I applaud you. It's not selfish to know your limits. People will say you should have given it up for adoption, like carrying a baby you don't want is no big deal. You should not have to carry, deliver or keep a baby you don't want. Period. End of story.

Kimberly, US

My mother [was] scheduled for an illegal abortion in 1965 but she caught another train back and lied to my father that there was no-one there [to perform the abortion]. I also have a disability and find the idea of aborting children on the basis of disability abhorrent.

John, UK

I am saddened reading this article. Abortion is a method of birth control? Seriously, we live in a world where anything can be disposed of lightly, even human life. I cannot judge the author of this article but as I read it with my third baby lying on my chest amidst all the chaos of running a house, school and nursery runs, I can't help but believe she is profoundly wrong. Life is a gift, so many desire a baby while others simply get rid of what some would give everything to have.

Carolyn, UK

I was 25 when I had a termination. I am in a long-term relationship, we are both in good jobs and we own our home. I fell pregnant after a drunken holiday and found at the earliest point possible. It was without a doubt the hardest decision I've ever had to make - I have never been so divided as I was at that point. It came down to me emotionally just not being ready. Financially we could have coped - people do on less - but I just wasn't ready to possibly reduce my career or put a stop to the things I knew I wanted to do in the future that a child would have limited. I had a surgical termination and afterwards was relieved feeling it was the right decision. Nearly six months on, though, I am still caught by the odd wave of sadness. I never understood how deep that biological urge is to have a child, no matter how much in your head you don't feel ready. A friend is due the same time I would have been and it's difficult watching her grow and not thinking what might have been, even though I am still convinced it was the right choice.

Anna, UK

Image copyright iStock

I have spoken with dozens of women who have sought an abortion because they were afraid, were given no other option, were pressured and were often even forced into aborting their children. I vividly remember speaking with one very young girl who came back to [the clinic] to receive counselling following her abortion. Those people who had been happy to abort her child sent her away within 15 minutes. That was all the counselling she got from them, despite the fact that she could barely speak to me about having aborted her child only a few weeks before then and bitterly regretted it. Her friend was also pregnant and had kept her baby and they would have been the same number of weeks pregnant. She was tortured by it all and at such a young age. She will have to carry that for the rest of her life. Abortion is the most awful thing and it is funded and carried out by the state.

Rhoslyn, UK

I always knew I was and am not made to be a mother. I simply lack the "mother-gene". My default setting makes it difficult for me to even find babies cute, I cannot coo over them as most people find it extremely easy to do. Added to that there is the fact that I will not allow the genes of my birth mother to spread to any further generation. I've seen what she did to my half-sisters and to my parents (who are my biological grandparents on the maternal side). In the nearly two decades since, I have never had any qualms about my decision, no nightmares, no doubts. Had abortion not been legal, I would have found another way. It is NOT about loving children or the absence of love. It is about knowing oneself. Especially one's limitations.

Julia

What a very sad story. It's a shame the parents felt that they did not have adequate support to have their third child. Having had two children, I find it mind-boggling that a parent can view a termination with such detachment and can only assume that the writer appears so detached from the situation as a coping mechanism.

Lucy, UK

Over 40 years ago, I had an abortion when I was 17. My mother didn't believe in either abortion or adoption. Had she known I was pregnant, she would have insisted I have the child and stay at home with her, abandoning my scholarship at a university. I was already struggling with what turned into a lifelong battle with clinical depression, and I knew there were truly only two choices - abortion, or suicide. I chose myself - I chose to live. And I'm very glad I did. I learned to manage my depression very successfully, I have a productive life and contribute much to the world. I do think, occasionally, about my decision, but my sadness is for the difficult choice I had to make alone, barely out of childhood myself. It was the best of a brutal situation, because my mother was not mentally stable and since, even if I had delivered the baby, I would have most likely killed myself, my child would not have had an emotionally healthy upbringing. Abortion is not a first-choice decision for any woman I know, but sometimes it makes the best of a bad situation for everyone.

Laurie, US

I'm not a pro-life supporter but still find this article rather disturbing. I believe abortion should be legal in a civilised society - it has a place for those that have pregnancy forced on them for many reasons but perhaps the ease with which one can obtain an abortion factors in a lapse of responsibility-taking? Like popping down the shops for a spot of retail therapy. I am a mother of two young children - yes it is hard and yes I'm tired most of the time. However, my children are a result of a choice - having unprotected sex - that is how conceiving works. I would imagine the percentage of contraception failure is quite low but will no doubt be used as a reason. I'm not encouraging unwanted pregnancies but I think people need to reflect more on cause and effect and take responsibility for their actions. I'm uncomfortable with the concept of a casual trip to the clinic as a convenient solution for middle class mummies as it doesn't fit in with their Pilates class. Fearing you might not have "enough love" is not a good enough reason to terminate a potential human being.

Al

My husband and I got married in November 2008. I was never really into kids but wanted to start a family eventually. I was on the pill, but somehow we got pregnant in August 2009. We found out at the same time my mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer in Malaysia. Knowing that I would have to fly there for extended periods and with the uncertainties about her prognosis, my husband and I agreed that it was more important to me to be with my mother whenever she needed me. That, and the fact that I wasn't mentally prepared to have a baby prompted us to choose abortion. It was painful, but it gave me time to say goodbye to my mother. It also allowed my husband and I to work on our careers to be in a better financial position. I believed and still believe that it was the best choice for us. However, now that I have a toddler and a baby (both planned), I look at their beautiful little faces and wonder what their sibling would have been like. Sometimes, a little kernel of regret threatens to grow.

Sometimes I wonder, UK

100 Women 2015

This year's season featured inspirational stories about the BBC's 100 Women and others who are defying stereotypes around the world.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram using the hashtag #100Women.

For further information

If you need advice about abortion services in the UK contact your local GP or visit the NHS website

Subscribe to the BBC News Magazine's email newsletter to get articles sent to your inbox.