Catherine, a nurse, had an abortion when she was 28 years old. She was 'pro-choice' until she conceived and was nine weeks pregnant at the time of the abortion. She wrote the following letters
I just wish I could find the words to tell you how much I regret the dreadful mistake I made on June 18th 19-. Even the words "dreadful mistake" seem to trivialise the whole sordid and inhuman way I treated my baby. And those people in England had the gall to smile at me. What a load of blind, ignorant assholes. I hate them with a passion. I know I didn't have to be dragged into the clinic but the way they gloss the whole thing over is incredible.
I'd love to tell them how I've felt since my abortion. Maybe they would realise that they are not doing any of us girls or women a favour in helping to kill our babies. They are destroying us, stripping us of our dignity and, worst of all, ignoring our terrible plight by superficially caring - helping us to carry out the most gross act any human being could commit against another.
Whatever chance I had, at the time, of telling someone I was pregnant, I didn't have the courage to tell them I was going to have an abortion. Besides, I knew they most probably would try to talk me out of it, and I thought I would rather have a few weeks of upset as opposed to a few months. The two weeks between the result of the pregnancy test and the date for the abortion were pure hell; it was proving to be more difficult to keep reality at bay, and it kept poking holes in my justifications and fabrications.
I was becoming increasingly aware of the fact that my pregnancy was in actual fact my baby, whose life I was going to end. Then this terrible fear gripped me - what would I do if these people in England refused to abort my baby. I went off on that tangent for a while, forcing any nice feelings towards the baby out of my head completely, wishing all the time that the whole thing was over and done with.
I remember being dreadfully upset one night before doing the pregnancy test, and thinking this can't happen now. I was also acutely aware of my previous pregnancy, and suddenly I was overwhelmed with the pain of the adoption. After the adoption of my first baby, when all the papers had been signed and the oaths taken, all the joy of seeing my baby vanished.
I thought then if I was ever stupid enough to become pregnant again I would be as cute as the rest of these women and have an abortion. No one would know, and I would be saving myself from all that hassle. So it seems as though my abortion was inevitable, regardless of circumstances, reasons and excuses. I just invented those to cushion myself from the real reason I was going to kill my baby. I was just thinking of myself.
The role I played in her death was just as active as the role I had played in her conception 9 weeks earlier. On each occasion I was just thinking of myself. Am I really human? I must say that I don't feel remotely human, and I doubt very much if I will ever feel like a real live human being again. I stopped feeling like a human being when I decided to have my abortion. I had to, otherwise I couldn't go through with it.
In any case, I started thinking about all the negative things concerning the adoption and I suppose because it suited me, I refused to think of the more positive aspects. There and then I decided to have an abortion, and for the next three weeks leading up to it I was a wreck.
The days dragged by so slowly and all I could do was cry. I just couldn't believe I had made the same mistake a second time. And again thinking of myself, I decided I would spare myself all the pain and suffering, the embarrassment, the humiliation and the battered ego if I had an abortion.
I don't think the baby really featured, and if it did I thought it was so small that it wouldn't suffer and I wouldn't miss it. Yet deep down I couldn't stop thinking about the abortion and what I was really going to do, that is, I was going to kill my own baby. I knew I was going to commit murder, and I had strong suspicions that I would never be the same person again. Quickly I decided to worry about that if and when it happened and, heavily armed with my justifications, I just concerned myself with the present and what I was going to do.
Looking back now I think it was the most lonely time in my life. I felt as though time was standing still for me, but once I had had the abortion everything would slot back into normality. It's so hard to explain. Once I decided to have the abortion I felt completely cut off from everyone, even my boyfriend.
I stopped praying and I started to feel cold inside. I kept on telling myself that I couldn't carry on with this pregnancy and I didn't care what happened to me after the abortion. I just wanted the whole thing over because I was half afraid that I would lose my nerve and give in to my innermost feelings. And the thought of doing so made me all the more anxious to have the abortion and see my decision through.
I was trapped in a situation all of my own making, desperately looking for an escape route - anything rather than face up to my responsibility. And although I knew of the alternative from my past, my pride wouldn't allow me to admit to the fact and face up to the consequences.
It is nine months by the day and date since I gave my consent to have you aborted. What a terrible, horrific thing to do to you, my beautiful baby girl. I wish now that I could hold you and care for you. Instead all I can do is look back with regret and sadness, thinking about what I did to you, how terribly let down you must have felt.
I would love to see your face, just once. I feel you are so near to me that I could reach out and touch you, other times I feel you would rather have nothing more to do with me. I can't say that I would blame you for hating me and turning your back on me. But I am almost sure that in your childlike innocence you have forgiven me and that hopefully you have started to love me.
I could really scream with frustration. If only I had known then what I know now about the gruesome way I ended you very short life! I can only hope that you have forgiven me. There are times when I feel I will never be able to forgive myself.
You were depending on me for your growth and development, until your birthdate, and I acted so selfishly. How I wish I could turn the clock back to June 18th and have said no to abortion. I feel so lonely and so sad, and when I can speak to your father about our sordid action on that day, the day you died, I know he is suffering too. As you were part of us I feel I also killed part of him, and sometimes it is the memory of you that makes it so hard for me to face him.
Sometimes when I look at him I wonder would you have looked like him. That is so disappointing, because then I realise I will never know what you looked like. I will never hear your first cry, see your smile, dry your tears or see you take your first steps. I am so sorry Eithne, for doing what I did to you. I know you probably thought that I didn't love you, and I know the feeling of rejection was a terrible thought for you to have died with. Please try not to judge me too harshly. I really do love you and I always will.
Nothing will ever fill the emptiness in my heart for you. I only hope that by facing up to what I did to you it will help me to live with myself, knowing the sort of person I really am. I wish that I could describe to you how I felt at the time, how quickly I refused to acknowledge your existence, and what an uphill struggle it was for me to go through with the abortion.
Those people in England made it all sound so easy, but the most important person, you, Eithne - you were never mentioned. How awful it was for you. I hope you can forgive myself and your father and I hope you will still love us as much as we love you. Though our actions at the time were the direct opposite.