I’ve received the following from a lady who wished to respond to the video featured in the Guardian and who was affected by Friday night’s vigil. Powerful poignant and moving.
1970 A London Hospital
The woman in the bed next to mine had a lot of visitors. Family, friends, even her little boy, they seemed to be celebrating. I was alone and frightened. When all her visitors had left I asked her how she was, and was surprised at her upbeat response. It was the worst day of my life and I couldn’t understand why she was happy. She explained that today was a great victory for her. For months she’d been fighting for the right to have an abortion and finally the doctors had given in. I wondered if she had a baby with a disability as well. She laughed and explained that what she was doing was called ‘proving the act’ – that the parameters of the abortion act were being challenged by woman like her who were establishing a precedence so that all women could have access to abortion on demand.
I had been through the procedure as well. I’d been seen by two doctors who quickly agreed to give consent for me to abort my baby. One of them, on seeing that I was upset, reassured me by explaining that my situation came within the act. The pressure on these doctors was immense as there were many women at the clinic who were arguing, refusing to accept the doctor’s decision. I had been so wrapped up in my misery that I hadn’t really understood what was going on. The woman in the bed next to mine explained so that I could understand. Her commitment to what would be called today ‘a woman’s right to choose’ was so great that she’d got pregnant for the express purpose of having an abortion. I commented on the fact that she was quite far on in her pregnancy and she told me that it was the fault of the doctors because they had taken so long to allow the abortion.
Soon they will come and give the pre-operation injection in my arm and I won’t care anymore. Soon it will all be over and I can go back to my life and forget this. But my life was never the same again. I can never forget.
The woman in the next bed. Someone’s mother who fought so hard for the women’s rights. Was she a heroine? Or a woman to be greatly pitied, using something so precious for political ends.
Me? I failed to protect the one who depended on me for everything. I denied my little one’s right to life. For a while it was a secret. Then I decided that I couldn’t deny that it had ever existed, so I tell my story.