Abortion: Two women's stories


On the day Northern Ireland's first private abortion clinic opened in Northern Ireland, BBC News talks to two women who have very different experiences of terminations.

Wendy's story

Wendy had three children when she discovered she was pregnant again. She described it as a "crisis".

The Belfast woman said the cost of travelling to England to have an abortion was prohibitive, so she bought abortion pills over the internet.

"It was an unplanned pregnancy and we already thought we had completed our family," she said.

image captionWendy said the secrecy surrounding her abortion was difficult

"I researched into the different methods and to fly to England and to have the procedure there would have cost almost £1,000.

"I looked on the web. There are so many sites and a lot of them don't give you any instructions how to use the pills.

"I was just terrified that I'd order something that wasn't right or that could be poisoning or could end up endangering me."

Wendy said she chose a website that offered her support and gave clear instructions about how to take the tablets.

"Time is really important for the procedure. The best time for me to do the procedure was as early as possible.

"I wanted to do it in my own country, in my own home and to be able to continue on with my life everyday. It was the easiest solution."

However, she said the secrecy surrounding her situation was difficult to handle.

"You already have a crisis situation and on top of that you have to consider that you are breaking the law.

"Then you have layers of secrecy in terms of - do you tell other family members, do you tell your friends? And you can't in any way tell your children.

"You need to have a service for women in their own country. I think that will help with the absolute isolation that you feel when you are doing this own your own, and when you're doing it, knowing it's illegal."

Ann's story

Ann helped her friend get an abortion in England.

The woman had been in a long-term relationship, but discovered she was pregnant after it had ended.

"She didn't want to have anything more to do with her former partner as he wasn't good to her near the end," she said.

image captionThe woman was in a long-term relationship which ended before she discovered the pregnancy

"She is a Catholic and she wouldn't have thought about having an abortion."

Ann said that after getting impartial advice, her friend decided on a termination, but she couldn't have it done in Northern Ireland.

So she was advised to go travel to England for the procedure.

"At the time, I was in Bristol and we met up and drove to a clinic in Manchester.

"I always thought if I decided to have an abortion that I'd be able to cope.

"But when I got to the clinic it was horrible. The staff were lovely but here were protesters outside.

"That made the whole situation, which was already intimidating, ten times worse. They called us names.

"I always thought I could go through with an abortion until we walked out of that clinic.

"The drive back was horrible - we felt so alone."

She said she and her friend now have no-one else to turn to, to talk about what happened.

"My friend not only had the financial burden of the abortion, but also the guilt afterwards," she said.

"She had the guilt of terminating a child and never being able to tell her parents. She hasn't got over it.

"I was not going through it myself but the protesters made me feel like I was a bad person.

"We are living a lie, keeping a guilty secret about this. And there's no support here."

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