At the March for Life UK in 2020, a woman named Amy told her story of abortion after rape.
In 2002 I had an abortion, and today I want to share with you my personal experience and how it’s impacted my life.
So I was studying at college at the time. I was doing my A levels and I was 18 – a very young 18-year-old, quite naïve.
And I got into a terrible situation. I was in a relationship with a guy who was very manipulative and at times quite abusive. Pretty much the whole time I was with him, really, I was trying to escape him, and I thought I had managed that quite successfully. But he thought otherwise. One day I had gone into college late because I had a doctor’s appointment; I remember the day quite well. So I was walking through college on my own, everyone else was in class. He decided he was not in a very good temper with me and he dragged me, actually, into a disabled toilet. I was very frightened and found it very difficult to defend myself. I was also very humiliated and I almost felt embarrassed for him as well. That day he forced himself on me and a child was conceived.
I do recall, afterwords, I was crying and he said to me, “You did want to do that.” And then he said, “Wait there, until I’ve gone, because I don’t want anyone to know we were in here.” And I was really obedient to him, which surprises me all the time afterwords I think. Why did I do that? Why did I not shout it out at the time? Why did I not scream or put up a massive fight? I don’t know. I was embarrassed, and I was too lacking in confidence to know how to deal with that situation properly. So I did what he said, and I tried to bury it.
A few weeks later, maybe a month later, it came back to haunt me, because I realized I was pregnant. It was just enormously shocking. I was really trying to cope with running away from him still. I was trying to cope with that and trying to cope with establishing some sort of autonomy over my own body. I was still trying to deal with that.
When I discovered I was pregnant, one of my good friends said to me, “Let’s go to the doctor’s. That’s the first thing we need to do.” And in that kind of whirlwind, where everything is going on around you and time kind of stands still, you are looking for someone to tell you what to do sometimes. I didn’t know what else to do. So I went. And before I really said anything, the doctor said, “When would you like me to book you in for the termination?”
I’d literally found out I was pregnant maybe an hour or two hours before. So I was – this was a new shock to me.
I said, “I don’t want you to do that. Why would I want you to do that?”
And he said, “Well, the quicker we get you booked in, the easier it will be for you.”
So, I said, “I don’t want you to book me in right now. I need some time to think.” So I went home in an absolute state. I didn’t tell my family. I felt embarrassed. I would have to tell them about the circumstances of the conception. I felt so embarrassed about it, and humiliated, and just – I was a little girl trying to act like I knew what I was doing.
I didn’t want anyone to catch me out, I suppose.
The next day I called a youth center, and I thought maybe they’ll be some advisors there who will be able to give me some different information. So I went along to a counselor and she was really sweet and really nice, but very much: “You need to get on with having an abortion, because the quicker this happens, the better it will be for you. You don’t need to live with this trouble for, you know, any longer than is absolutely necessary.” And when you’re in such a stressful situation, that sounds quite appealing.
So, she said, “You know, I can sort it all out for you.”
And I said, “I just don’t know if I can live with myself if I have an abortion. It doesn’t sound like the right thing to do to me.”
And she said, “Would you like to speak to a pro-life counselor?”
So I said “Yes, please, I would.”
So I went back a few days later and spoke to a pro-life counselor. I told her the situation, I said I was very alone in it. I didn’t want to speak to my family at that point, but I didn’t want to have an abortion either. And she literally did not say anything to me. She just nodded, and I kept almost trying to preempt what she would say. I said, “You know, I feel I will live forever with guilt and regret, and I don’t know if I can cope with that.” And she just nodded, still, and said nothing. I think I kind of wanted her to agree with that, and give me confidence to be like, “It will be difficult for you to live with it.” She didn’t – she just nodded and not really said anything. I found that really hard, and I’ve since found that really hard to take.
I wish to go back to that time and speak to myself. Anyway, she left, and the youth worker came back in said, “Would you like me to arrange it now?”
And I said, “yeah.” Because I literally was out of ideas. The thought of it being over quickly, of course, it was appealing. It was so stressful being in a crisis pregnancy. So stressful, and I didn’t have any answers.
So, a doctor came in and stood at the doorway. Literally stood in the doorway, there was a little ledge there, and she rested her paperwork on their, and she said, “Why did you not come before now?”
And I said, “Well, I didn’t know I was pregnant before now.”
And she said, “Right. Okay.” And signed it. This document. I later discovered that that was the, allegedly, two doctors agreeing that I needed to have an abortion for my health and well-being.
There was no words of counseling whatsoever. There was no alternative. There was just, this is the most sensible thing to do, so any grown-up person would be responsible right now. And of course, I wanted to be a grown-up responsible person, so I went along with that.
So the following week I went to hospital, my local hospital, and I went into a room with a nurse. I was given a pill and she said, “you need to take that now, and then you come back in two days. And we’ll give you more drugs, and the abortion will take place.”
And I sat there feeling so anxious, sick, really. And I said, “Gosh, I’m not sure if I want to do this.”
And she said, “Well, we’re very busy, we need to kind of get on with this. If you’re not ready, then go away and come back. I’ve got other people to see.”
So I left the room and walked around the hospital, and thought, “What am I going to do? Why am I – what am I looking for now?” Scanning notice boards and just walking up and down corridors, searching for an answer that really wasn’t there.
I’ve since reflected on that, that half an hour of frantically walking up and down, and I think, my friend said to me, “Amy, what are you looking for? You need to go back.” I realize now I was looking for somebody, anybody.
I’ve since taken myself outside abortion clinics and stood there quietly, praying, just to be that person. Maybe someone will come out, and maybe I might be that person who I was looking for then, who would be able to offer any kind of alternative. Any kind of word of encouragement would have changed my mind in that moment. I was hanging on a cliff edge, waiting for somebody to catch me. There was nobody there that day.
So a word of encouragement, if you have it in you, please, please make yourself available. Go and be where abortions are taking place because somebody, I promise you, one day will be looking for you.
Anyway, I went back to the room and I took the pill, and left in a hurry. And just tried to blank out what I was doing. And I went on about my business for the next two days.
I went back to the hospital two days later. I don’t know what I was expecting, really, but it was quite shocking to me. I was in a lot of pain and I was extremely stressed. I recall I was crying, mostly, the whole time. And a nurse said to me, “Don’t worry, it’s quite normal to cry. And you might cry for quite some time afterwards. That’s quite normal. It’s just what happens.”
And I was thinking, well, why? This is supposed to be the good and responsible and right thing to do. Why would it make me cry endlessly? Why? Surely I should be glad, because all my problems are going to be over soon. But of course, that is not the reality at all. That was a lie.
I’ve been reflecting recently on people being allowed to take these pills at home. I mean, my gosh. It is extremely stressful to have an abortion, in my experience. It was devastating from the moment it began and forever more, actually. Certainly, on the day of the abortion, I was in pieces. I was frightened for my life. And my abortion, don’t get me wrong, was very straightforward. Nothing particular out of the ordinary happened. It was very routine. Allegedly, it just went exactly to plan. It was all “fine” and I was healthy, everything was great for me, apparently. But I felt like I might die. So I really fear for people who are doing this at home, on their own, without nurses around them, without a doctor on hand. Things do go wrong.
I’ve prayed outside abortion clinics where ambulances have come in. So we all know abortion isn’t actually that safe.
But anyway, my abortion apparently was well-controlled, and it was okay, but it was not a pleasant experience.
Afterwards, there’s this horrific knowledge that you have just – a baby has just passed away. It’s passed outside your body now, and where is it? That is something that is absolutely harrowing to me. Where is that baby? I don’t know. And I will never know.
I mean, people that have abortions in their own home – they are going to be confronted with the reality of that, which is going to be extremely – there just are no words, I don’t think. In my experience, for having to suffer that, on your own.
After the abortion I went home, and I tried to act like normal because apparently I was going to be relieved, and apparently I was going to feel like all my problems would come to an end, now I can get on with my life. So I tried that, which lasted about five minutes, I think. I felt physical pain from the distress of it all. I was literally heartbroken. I had this horrendous pain in my chest and I was so anxious all the time. I felt grief like the most precious thing to me had just died, which is actually exactly what had happened.
And it’s very difficult to grieve from an abortion, because obviously, you have chosen it to some degree. So I almost felt like a hypocrite grieving, like
I should be glad. I’d been told to be glad. But the reality was, I just did not want to do that. I grieved for that baby and still do, and probably will forever more.
I drank quite a lot, and I took a lot of pain killers, and sometimes I drank so much and took such a lot of painkillers in order that I wouldn’t wake up. And I prayed every night, even though I wasn’t terribly religious at the time, I prayed every night that God would take me away and that I would die.
Maybe if I even went to hell, that would be better than where I was at that time. I prayed like that for a long time, and every morning I’d wake up, and the reality of where I was and what had happened kind of came back over me. I’d remember, and I’d be like, why am I alive again? Now I have to go through another day. It was so hard.
I became an extremely selfish person, because when you are suffering with such severe anxiety and depression and grief, it’s very difficult to think about other people, and think, you know, to be happy and fun and hang out with your friends, and contribute, and do work – you know, it’s very difficult to do those good things. So I just turned in on myself… I suppose I was just doing my best to survive each day. And I found it very difficult to tell anybody that I was suffering like that. In fact, it took several years before I could actually tell anybody that I was suffering mentally.
But God is merciful, and thankfully he didn’t take me away. I did survive. I did start talking about it, and I did get help. And the amazing thing, of all places, found myself in the Catholic Church, that is opposed to abortion… But actually, it was my place of comfort. The first time I felt allowed to say that situation – that abortion – was wrong. And I felt empowered to be able to say that. That I made a humongous mistake and I regret it. Because it’s not easy to say that in the rest of society, when the rest of society sort of has this idea that we should be thankful, as women, we’ve become empowered by our reproductive rights, whatever they are. It helped me enormously to just say things as they are. And the healing started, really. And some years on, I managed to go to confession, and I confessed that sin, and I accepted, it took a while, but I accepted forgiveness. And the relief was incredible.
I would say for anybody who is suffering from abortion, it is so important that you get appropriate help. It will change your life. Confession is a fantastic thing.
I spent a lot of time then trying to support the pro-life movement, because I don’t want other people to suffer in the same way I have. I’ve since had the joy of becoming married and having four children and maybe, with God’s will, I might have more.…
Amazing things happen when you persevere and you get help. I wish I could go back to myself when I was 18 and say, “You might feel incompetent, but you don’t know how capable you are.” I wish someone would have said that to me. And I would like to say it to other people. I’ve seen somebody who was 17 who became pregnant and she managed to keep her baby. She’s a fantastic mother. She’s having another one now. We actually are made of much more than we give ourselves credit for. And people who are feeling incompetent or vulnerable, it will get easier, and it does get better. Abortion is not the answer. Abortion just takes away your child. You are still mother. But you are a grieving one.
Motherhood is difficult and stressful sometimes, but it’s also full of fantastic rewards and joys. We are more capable than we think.
I’ve heard people who claim to be pro-life say I don’t agree apart from in the case of rape. When I hear people say that, it literally stabs me in the heart. Abortion did not work for me. It did not heal the abuse that I experienced. It actually made me live within that abuse situation for a lot longer because I relived [it]. After the abortion, I relived that conception over and over again. It was the absolute worst possible outcome for me.
I’ve made some really good friends who have conceived children in rape.
And they have had their children. They love their children. Those children are in fact their child. And my child was my child. It was his child as well, but that would not define my child. When I talk about my living children, I don’t say my husband’s children. I call them my own, because they are in fact mine. It sounds very obvious. But for somebody who’s defending abortion because of rape, it almost implies that the child is 100% the rapist’s child. We need to think about punishing rapists. The baby does not deserve the death penalty because of what their parent has done.
I also have a friend who was conceived in rape. She does not call herself a rapist’s child. She is a child of God, and has value and worth for the beautiful person she is. She has a husband and a family, and she is glad for her life. She says it herself – “I love my life.” Of course, why wouldn’t she? She is just a person like any other person. What the father has done does not define the rest of that child’s life.
Abortion does not heal rape. It just leaves the mother with another horrific, devastating experience to try to come to terms with on top of the fact that she has been raped. It is almost too much to take for many women and it nearly was for me…
I would like to say to all pro-life people and people of good conscience, be available to support women who are struggling because you might make all the difference. We all need support at times. You can be in the best situation, become pregnant, and feel like the world is falling apart. And we all need help sometimes. So please be available, and you might save somebody’s life.
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