I’ve said before the UK press is much more willing to report and evaluate abortion honestly.
Yesterday’s Daily Mail had this story: “Emotional toll: A young mother tells of the devastating legacy of having seven abortions.”
You would never see such a story in the US MSM, even though such stories abound. This article spotlights that the American press is sabotaging an entire segment of the conversation about abortion.
As you read the story makes points studies repeatedly demonstrate but liberals repeatedly shun or deny…
1. Contraceptives fail
2. The only foolproof way to prevent pregnancy is abstinence
3. Abortion is used as birth control
4. Abortion hurts women psychologically
5. Abortion causes premature labor in ensuing wanted pregnancies
6. Men exploit women for sex
7. Abortion ruins healthy relationships
8. Serial sex is not normal
If you’re pro-abortion, what difference is there between 1 and 7 abortions? Who cares, if abortion is safe and abortion is good?
Among the throng of women who gather outside the school gates each day, Angela Simmons is every inch the archetypal middle-class mother, fussing over her 7-year-old son Ben and ferrying him between after-school clubs and play dates.
Certainly nobody would guess that the 39-year-old former estate agent is one of around 50 women each year in the UK to have notched up her seventh abortion….
Government statistics released this week show that record numbers of women are having two or more abortions – and those who do so are not, as might be expected, young teenagers who don’t know any better.
Angela is typical of them. As a cautionary tale about abortion, her story reveals a great deal about the emotional legacy of a termination – and especially of multiple abortions.
For while she continually insists she does not regret any of her actions, she goes on to describe in agonising detail her lifelong battle with depression, how she once tried to take her own life and how she finds it a daily struggle to overcome a deep and abiding sense of shame.
‘Looking back, there was a definitive reason why I had each termination and a valid reason why I felt at the time I could not even have begun to contemplate continuing with each of the pregnancies,’ says Angela.
Many, of course, will find such a flimsy justification hard to accept – especially seven times over.
Perhaps the most astonishing revelation of all is Angela’s insistence: ‘I do not really regret any of my abortions.’
Or the admission that she also came close to aborting her son Ben and changed her mind only when her then partner, Patrick, begged her not to go through with it.
Certainly, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that her relationship with Ben’s father broke up six years ago amid bitter recrimination over the two abortions she had against Patrick’s wishes either side of their son’s birth.
And yet sadly, Angela’s grim story is not unique. This week’s figures released by Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo reveal how many modern women are using abortion, not as a last resort, but almost as a form of contraception.
Statistics show that last year 1,300 women had at least their fifth abortion.
Almost 950 of those having a termination had already had four previously. Almost 200 had already had five, 110 had had six before and 54, like Angela, seven or more.
The ease with which such women are undergoing repeat abortions has led campaigners to argue that terminations are being approved all too readily – given for social reasons rather than because a pregnancy might pose a significant risk to a mother’s health or well-being.
There are fears too about the emotional toll that multiple abortions may be taking on such women.
This week the Royal College of Psychiatrists warned that women may be at risk of mental breakdowns if they have abortions – something which, as we shall see, is borne out by Angela’s story – and should not be allowed one unless they are properly counselled about this potential risk.
So how did the intelligent, middle-class daughter of an engineer and a secretary become one of these bleak statistics?
Angela, a single mother from Bristol, insists she never used abortion as a form of contraception and was merely ‘unlucky’. But seven times unlucky is perhaps stretching the bounds of credibility.
‘I have always used contraception properly,’ she insists.
‘Yet everything – condoms, the Pill, the coil and even charting my temperature to avoid having sex during my fertile time – has let me down. The fact that I have been so fertile has been the bane of my life.’
Whether she used contraception properly or not – and under the circumstances, one can only suspect not – Angela is certainly living proof of the emotional aftermath of abortion.
After her third termination, aged 26, she tried to kill herself by overdosing on alcohol and painkillers and spent eight weeks in a psychiatric unit.
And yet the ease with which she was able to secure a fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh abortion with no proper assessment is astounding.
Indeed, she reveals that she went to the same abortion clinic for each of her terminations and claims she was offered only the most cursory of counselling before every one.
‘I do wish that someone in those clinics had really sat down with me and talked it through properly,’ says Angela, who is now undergoing counselling to help her cope with her past actions.
‘The reason why I had so many abortions is that I didn’t want to bring a child into the world unless my situation was perfect – but it never was.
‘With each termination I felt it was my responsibility to get on with my own life and forget about it. After each one I just blanked out the emotions and never thought about it. I felt no remorse at all.’
Angela’s first abortion was, she says, a straightforward affair. She was 21 and working as a sales negotiator for a large London estate agency when she ‘accidentally’ fell pregnant, three months after meeting a construction worker called Tom.
She says they used the Pill and condoms.
‘It was a total shock and when I told Tom, he said he didn’t want to know,’ she recalls.
‘I was devastated. Then he stopped answering his phone when I rang. Having a baby by myself in my tiny London flat without any support was just not an option. I felt I had no choice but to have an abortion.’
When she was nine weeks’ pregnant, Angela went to her GP, who referred her to an abortion clinic.
After a ‘cursory’ chat with a nurse who asked her if she was sure she wanted a termination, Angela was booked in for the procedure.
‘After the operation I woke up and simply felt relief that it was over,’ she says. ‘I just wanted to get on with my life and forget about it.’
Which is what she did, with no regrets and seemingly no emotional trauma.
Her second unwanted pregnancy, four years later, was the result of a romance with Simon.
Two years older than her, he was saving up for a round-the-world trip by doing odd jobs and not looking for long-term commitment.
It was only after he’d left the country that Angela discovered that she was pregnant again.
Once more, she insists, she was using the contraceptive pill, and once more offers the excuse that it was simply not the right time in her life to have a child.
‘There was no way I could consider having a baby, because nothing had changed about my situation,’ she says.
‘So I went back to my GP and had another abortion at eight weeks. Again, as soon as it was over I simply felt relieved. I wanted to put it all behind me.’
Yet if Angela might have been expected to learn from her mistakes, within the year she was pregnant again, having met David, a pub manager ten years her senior. A third termination loomed.
‘Our relationship was already rocky,’ she says by way of explanation.
‘I always suspected he was unfaithful, although I couldn’t prove it, but he already had children from previous relationships with other women and I didn’t want to end up like them.
‘If David had turned round and said “Look, I want us to marry and there will be no other women”, I might have had the baby, but instead he simply turned round and offered to pay for a termination and even drive me to a clinic.’
Ten weeks into the pregnancy, David took her to a London clinic for her third abortion. Although today she insists it was the ‘right’ decision, it felt very wrong at the time.
‘I began to feel I was making a terrible mess of my life,’ says Angela, in what many will see as a gross understatement. She broke up with David soon after.
She adds: ‘A few weeks later I felt so depressed that one night I took an overdose of alcohol and painkillers. I knew immediately that I didn’t really want to die, it was a cry for help, so I took myself to casualty.
‘But while I got better physically, no one tried to talk to me about how I felt, and after eight weeks on a psychiatric ward I discharged myself. I thought I would just have to try and forget about it all and put it behind me.’
In a bid to make a fresh start, Angela, now aged 30, moved to a flat in Epsom, Surrey, where she started working in a gym. It was here she met Patrick, a divorced IT consultant.
This time when she ‘accidentally’ became pregnant three months into the relationship – it seems she had not learned her lessons from the previous pregnancies – Patrick did not desert her or offer to pay for an abortion.
In fact, he was thrilled at the news. Surely, this was what Angela had been looking for all along? A committed, loving partner who very much wanted to be a father to their baby?
‘My life had only just got back on an even keel after my overdose,’ explains Angela.
‘Our relationship was very new. I felt we barely knew one another and really couldn’t contemplate having a child.’
She aborted the baby at 12 weeks – against Patrick’s wishes – and yet he stuck by her.
‘Patrick held the abortion against me,’ she says, seemingly surprised by his reaction. ‘I didn’t regret it, but whenever we had a row, he would bring up the abortion and say how hurt he was by what I had done.’
Three years later, when Angela ‘accidentally’ became pregnant again, her first instinct was immediately to have another abortion.
‘We weren’t married and I do feel children should be born within marriage,’ she says, clinging to her ‘perfect’ vision of family life.
‘Our relationship was rocky and I felt having a baby would only make it worse.
However, I also felt incredibly guilty because I knew how upset Patrick had been about what had happened to our first baby. So I let him convince me that we should keep it.’
It was a difficult pregnancy and when Ben was born eight weeks prematurely and with severe learning difficulties, Angela struggled to bond with him. Her relationship with Patrick deteriorated and when Ben was two months old she decamped with him to her father’s flat in Berkshire.
During a ‘reconciliation meeting’ with Patrick a week later, Angela fell pregnant again – yes, you guessed it, ‘accidentally’.
‘I couldn’t believe that I could be so unlucky again,’ she says, once again oblivious to the possibility that she might have been responsible in any way. Obviously there was no way I could go through with another pregnancy so soon after Ben, when I was probably already suffering post-natal depression, so I booked another abortion.’
Many will find her actions unforgivable. Her partner Patrick certainly did, and they split up. And yet her appalling track record continued.
Two years later, Angela was pregnant again, three months after meeting 35-year-old Paul who ran his own computer company.
As before, Angela claims she was on the Pill.
‘The relationship was so new that I felt I couldn’t go through a pregnancy and Paul felt it was up to me to make the decision,’ she says.
So it was that she went through abortion number six. But, incredibly, a year later she was pregnant again.
This time she insists she felt Paul’s commitment to their future wavering, so she aborted again for the seventh time.
‘Bringing up a baby in a relationship that he wasn’t fully involved in wasn’t on and I felt it was in all our best interests to have an abortion,’ she says matter-of-factly.
The irony is, of course, that while she blames her various partners for their lack of commitment, it seems often to have been Angela who has refused to make a commitment to a relationship by having a child with a partner.
Now, she has ended up on her own with a child anyway – largely thanks to her own selfish behaviour.
And as she struggled to cope with the consequences of her own actions, she finally decided to seek counselling.
‘I felt a huge sense of failure and that I had really mucked up my life,’ she says.
‘I felt a great deal of shame over my abortions and also that I was so hopeless that I wasn’t even a deserving mum to Ben.’
As a result, Angela blames her own traumatic childhood for leading her down such a destructive path.
Growing up in Berkshire, she was four years old when her parents’ marriage broke up. Her mother remarried and between the ages of ten and 14 Angela was sexually abused by her stepfather, who in 1997 was jailed for three years at Reading Crown Court after admitting the abuse.
When Angela tried to tell her mother what was happening, her mother refused to believe her – causing a rift between them which lasts to this day.
It was hardly surprising, then, that Angela grew up desperate to create her own family. Most of her ambitions centred on marriage and children – lots of them – to help erase the loneliness of the past.
And surely it can have been no coincidence that almost all of her ‘accidental’ pregnancies occurred about three months into a new relationship – the honeymoon phase – after which she panicked and decided to have an abortion when she decided that neither her man nor her situation was ‘perfect’.
‘For a long time I thought I had managed to put that episode of my life behind me,’ she says.
‘Now I believe that is the reason why I have never been able to commit to a relationship and why, when I got pregnant, I didn’t think I deserved a baby.
‘I didn’t want to bring a baby into the world unless my situation was perfect. I never had a mother figure and, because we weren’t close, no guidance.’
But if Angela’s own childhood ordeal merits sympathy, it surely cannot justify her actions.
In the end, her own conscience is still clearly muddled. While insisting she has no regrets, she says: ‘I feel the most incredible shame over what I have done.’
At least she is able to see how selfish her actions must seem to those who are struggling to conceive at all: ‘I do feel guilty that I have had so many unwanted pregnancies when there are many women who can’t have children.’
Perhaps the only glimmer of hope on the horizon is her insistence that: ‘If I do ever get pregnant again, I would now not consider having an abortion. It is only now I can look back and see just how emotionally painful having them was.’
Others could be forgiven for suggesting that if she doesn’t want to have another child, she might consider taking greater care not to get pregnant in the first place.
• Some of the names in this article have been changed.
[HT: moderator Bethany]