Lesley’s Story

Lesley, Antrim

How many abortions have you had? One.


What were your circumstances at the time of the abortion?

I was 13 when I was raped by an 18 year old man.  It wasn’t a violent rape but I didn’t really know what was happening as I was naïve.  I didn’t tell anyone about my experience because I was brought up in a Christian home and attended a Presbyterian church.  I felt people would judge me and somehow it would seem like my fault.


Several weeks passed and I was feeling sick, every morning, vomiting at home and in school.  My parents were concerned and took me to the GP and after to the hospital for tests, some of which included x-rays.  They found nothing.  Another two months passed and my mother asked me one evening if there was any chance that I could be pregnant.  Of course I said no but I soon put two and two together and realised that it was possible – the penny had dropped.  I confided in a friend who worked Saturdays in a chemist shop and she arranged a test – it was positive.  I was devastated.  A few days later I told my mother and it was like she was at the end of her tether.  She was already upset and preoccupied due to my grandfather’s ill health. Phone calls were immediately made and counsel was being sought from here, there and everywhere.


The local newspaper had an advertisement in the personal column and this directed my parents to a Marie Stopes counsellor who swiftly made and an appointment and before I knew it I was on a boat to Liverpool.


We docked at 7.00 a.m. and as it was November time I was cold and hungry because I couldn’t have breakfast – my operation was before lunch.


How many weeks pregnant were you?

Between 12 and 15 weeks.


What type of abortion was performed?

When I’d had my pre-operation medication, a nurse asked me “do you know what they’ll do with your baby?”.  “No, not exactly” I replied.  “Well”, she said “They will put an instrument up inside you, cut the baby into pieces and suck it out with a machine like a vacuum cleaner, into a bag”.


Did anyone pressure you or coerce you to choose abortion?

Yes, my parents, who had sought counsel from at least two clergymen, a close friend and my GP.


How much information were you given on the abortion procedure at the time and by whom?

I was given no information at all – not even a leaflet or book.  I had to return by plane the next day and go straight back to school the day after that.


Do you think you were adequately informed at the time of the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of abortion?

Not at all, I was informed of nothing, not even by the psychiatrists and psychologists that I saw over the next 37 years. When I asked them “what happened to my baby?” nobody was able to give me that information.


I pointed out to psychiatrists and psychologists ALL the time that I thought my rape and abortion at 13 was the crux of my problems.  I don’t recall them ever commenting on that, nor do I recall any of them saying anything about how I was feeling as a result of the rape and subsequent abortion.  It was as if they didn’t know how to deal with it.


I was a physical, emotional and psychological wreck and was in a deep spiritual battle.  I felt suicidal at times and grieved so much for my son.


What do you recall of the abortion procedure itself?

Just that terrible conversation with the nurse and afterwards with the other women in the ward who told me not to worry – some of them were on their second and third abortions.  It was quick and painless as far as I remember and the medical staff mentioned something about a risk of infection that could be dangerous but I wasn’t informed how to reduce the risk.


What was your immediate reaction after the abortion and how did you feel?

I was sad, not guilty, very lonely and burdened that I couldn’t talk about it to anyone – not even my mother or friends.  I felt terrible because we were not well off and the abortion and travelling costs had cost my parents a small fortune.  I felt it was all my fault.  My parents said they would not press charges against the man who had raped me because they didn’t want my name “dragged through the courts”.


How has your abortion affected you?

My abortion affected my school work.  I found school reports and in that 3rd year my results just went sharply downhill.  I felt like a failure.  I couldn’t really get into a steady relationship with boys as I couldn’t trust them.  I used to cry if a boy wanted to get intimate.


The long term effects were terrible. For years I couldn’t cope with grief of any kind, friends and family died and the grief just kept mounting up.  Eventually I saw psychologists about the grief and unhealthy relationships I had with men.  I started drinking alcohol and this anaesthetised the hurt and pain.  I just wanted to know what had happened to my baby, where was his body, did it end up in a bin?


I cried a lot in private and when my first marriage broke down and I was in new accommodation, after a drinking binge, I felt suicidal and went in search of the gas oven – forgetting it was in fact electric.


How has abortion affected others in your life and your relationships with others?

My abortion affected my relationship with my parents in that I was distant with them. I despised the clergy who advised that abortion was the right thing to do.  I resented the man who raped me.  I felt isolated from my friends and, although I had plenty, I felt lonely in the crowd.


What has helped you to come to terms with your abortion?

The ONLY one thing that has helped me is going through post abortion trauma counselling with the Surrendering the Secret programme. I feel free now to praise God for the physician that He really is in the healing that has come to me throughout the sessions.  I feel free to speak out about my abortion, with confidence and authority.  Only after 37 years of searching for help, wanting to be healed so I know in my heart that I have truly received it.


God has brought me back to the very church I went to as a child and my life has been restored.


Based on your experience, what would you tell a woman considering abortion today?

Please reconsider, please think beyond the “quick fix”.  Please think about yourself and how you may be traumatised after the abortion.


I want to highlight that abortion did not help me.  I wanted to keep my child.  I was a young rape victim and my parents thought that abortion would “solve” this problem. A rape victim can recover from the trauma of rape, but I can never undo my abortion.


Please consider my torture for 37 years and how that impacted on my life with drug and alcohol abuse, destructive relationships with men, loneliness, isolation, suicidal thoughts and a reputation for being neurotic.


One last thing I’d like to share with you.  My daughter was born 25 years exactly to the day and hour that my son Michael was aborted.  I had a miscarriage about 7 years ago and now have a son who is 5 years old.  None of my children living are a replacement for my aborted son Michael.  My living children understand they have a brother Michael and a sister Lily who are in heaven and that one day we will all be reunited.

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