After Abortion: Pat's Letter

Pat is 33, married and has three children. She had an early abortion when she was 19 and a second one when she was 21. Two years ago she began to realise that they had had a major impact on her life and could no longer be ignored. She wrote the following letters over a period of several months.

Dear Friend, 

Just back off my holidays. What a relief! Maybe I am just over-tired, but I cannot stand the sight of Michael at the minute. He just sickens my stomach. I was out for an hour with him last night. What an effort! I managed to tell him I was finding the week a bit of a strain. Also I felt very guilty for being down in the dumps. I didn't get the reaction I expected. He was just thinking of himself. He switched conversation very quickly to something of little importance, it really annoyed me.

So, coming home I lost my head with him. He said what I'm dealing with is not a problem to him, and if it is to me, he couldn't do anything about it. So then I let him know in anger that he was fifty percent responsible for what happened, like me getting pregnant. I can't stand men at the moment, certainly not Michael. He is a pig, a selfish pig, and all the rest that goes with it! He sleeps with me, I get pregnant twice, have two abortions and it's not a problem to him! And if it is to me, just tough luck!

It really is a man's world. I'm so mad at him. He better not even sit beside me or touch off me, or even talk to me, for the rest of the evening. I really can't describe how bad I feel towards him. How dare he! At the moment I just think he is disgusting, revolting, obnoxious. Nothing will change the way I feel. How am I going to survive the rest of my life with him?

Fourteen years of life I think I'm finally believing that there was no good reason for doing what I did. I am inclined to go around in circles. Up to now I think when my babies became real I wanted to blame someone else. I just didn't want to feel responsible. And when I felt responsible I didn't want to see the babies as real at all. I think I'm putting the two together now, at least for the moment.

Michael asked earlier how I was, said I seemed awful quiet. He has said that a few times lately, but I know he doesn't want to know really how I feel, so I just say okay. And the new one is, I am "a quiet girl". I really can't stand him. To ask me how I feel is an insult, when he doesn't want to know. How does one feel, trying to live with the fact that she is responsible for having her two children killed? And he is their father and he could have stopped me then, but he didn't even try.

Fourteen years of my life have been ruined because of this. I will never see my babies, and he thinks I'm quiet! He could have helped then and he didn't. Did he feel nothing, to let me go to England to have our baby aborted, not just once but twice? How could he stand by and do nothing? If I'm quiet now he was obviously quiet then, so quiet I can't remember a word of support for me then. Obviously he didn't want to marry me or stand by me. He didn't even have to come and witness what was to happen to me. He didn't even have to pay for it. I must have been a stupid, naive idiot to expect nothing of him.

It's all so safe and easy for him to say now it's in the past, and the babies are in heaven. If he has so much belief I wonder why he doesn't go to Mass. Obviously he didn't think enough of me to stand by me, and I didn't think enough of me to expect it. It's no wonder I hate him. If I told him how I was he would probably ring the doctor or his sister.

Quite hard

Come to think of it, it was he who half-pushed me to go into the mental hospital the time I went. I didn't really believe I needed to. He hassled me so much on top of everything else I couldn't take any more. I hate him for not standing by me then. I don't think I even want to see him as the father of my babies at times, I feel so angry towards him. He is just not good enough to be, or he doesn't deserve to be.

I can't remember what I was like before my abortions. I don't think I really cared that much about what I was doing. It was just a way out. I think I was quite hard about the whole thing, so that made it easier for me. I was quite hard even before getting pregnant. I was probably carrying a chip on my shoulder about my parents and all that, and quite selfish. I think it would be wrong for me to say I felt anything for my two babies then. I didn't care.

I didn't think much of myself, so I didn't think much of my babies. Well, if I didn't think much of myself I would hardly think much of my baby. Then again, I think I felt all my past behaviour, the way I had been living, which I kept very secret, would all come out, and everyone would know. The image I portrayed and the way I was living weren't the same. I pretended to be sensible, responsible and all that. But having sex and getting pregnant seemed to deny all that.

Cruel and uncaring

I don't think God was that much part of my life then. I suppose I ignored him because I knew the way I was living was wrong anyway. I'm sure I knew everything I did was wrong, but it was more a case of "so long as nobody finds out it doesn't matter". I obviously felt bad about it because I told no one. I never even went to confession, about that anyway. I'm sure I even had Michael's sister, Betty, who organised both abortions, thinking I knew I was doing the right thing. I really don't think I cared very much and if I got upset in the clinic maybe something else got to me then. I don't really know.

I don't think you should have been kind to me because I really don't deserve it. Anyone like me who can be so cruel and uncaring and ungrateful to others doesn't deserve kindness. After all, I killed my own babies, and if I suffered it was because I had done wrong and killed my babies. I never felt that I loved them, or missed them, or that I was sorry for doing it. I really don't feel that I have the right to be happy or love anyone. I'm not sure that I could. Maybe I'm not capable of it. So it would be wrong of me to expect others to care about me. That would only make me more selfish.

If I couldn't love the three children I have now or my two babies I had killed, how could I expect them to love me? And how could I expect Michael to care either, seeing that I killed our two children? It's no wonder I feel such a hypocrite, talking about the babies now. I'm sure he feels if I didn't show any concern then why should I now.

See you.


Dear Friend, letter 2

I feel that this is the week I went to England, and although I'm not dwelling on it at all it just seems to keep coming at me. As little confidence as I have that keeps making me worse. When I'm calming down it seems to hit me and I'm back there again, feeling hopeless, full of fear. I suppose I'm terrified people will get to know. I keep seeing myself with my baby inside me, waiting, switched off about everything that was going to happen. I would have to be, wouldn't I? How else would I have coped?

Right now I want to kill the bastards that murdered my babies. I feel so angry, so much worse than anger. It is just beyond me why they are given a licence to murder. I'm having such a bad day. I really want to get at the people who did this to me, including Betty and Michael. How could they do this to me? How could she suggest such a thing, to murder my baby? What the hell was she thinking of, and for whose good was she doing it? Surely not mine. I want to ring her up and let her know what I think of her now.

How could she do it to me? Surely she must have a guilty conscience? It's no wonder she avoids me. She must have known I was going to have a baby, she couldn't have been that naive at 23. She was the one that could have helped, but didn't. I don't honestly think I would have gone to England on my own, and made all the arrangements. I don't believe I would have had the guts. I really don't think I would have.


No doubt, running for Betty was Michael's escape then, and she fixed it all, at my and my babies' expense. Because I'm sure if I didn't have my first baby aborted I wouldn't have had the second. What really annoys me now is that neither of them want to know the damage it has done. Michael says if I don't give this up it will wreck what's left of our marriage. Makes me wonder if there is anything inside his head at all.

Real loss

It's the first time I think I've fully realised that I may never have had my abortions only for Betty and her stupid, unthinking suggestion. I want to shake her guts badly. It's worse than that. How could she suggest such a thing to me? Did she not think that I had it in me to care for my child, that I was no better and that I should get rid of it? How little trust she had in me to suggest that.

Last night, in bed, I felt real sorrow and loss for my babies. Just for a minute I wished so much that I could see them now. It didn't last long, and I find it so hard to believe or trust these feelings because of not caring all those years ago, and since. But it's all still quite deep and doesn't last very long, or it's all clouded with guilt, anger and everything else that goes with it.

Although it's odd, for a year or so before I started to deal with my abortions, usually after Michael really hurt me, I would sometimes go upstairs angry, hurt, sad and full of self-hatred. And when I lay down on the bed I would just cry. It was as if lying down on the bed was bringing it back to me. Maybe that was how I felt when they brought me back to bed after the abortions, but I don't remember, or I didn't show it if I did.

Still feel responsible

It's odd that I feel more angry at Betty than Michael, you'd imagine it would be the other way round. Maybe it is. Some of it is probably because she suggested it and she was older. She just wanted to protect her own family. The first time I spoke to her recently about the abortions she said she couldn't understand why she didn't help me to keep the baby rather than encourage me otherwise. They were her words, "encourage me."

But somehow even her saying that doesn't say it all. I want her to be shocked and horrified and hurting the way I am. But then again, it wasn't her baby. She said to me on the phone, she did all she could for me, so obviously she is denying it again. Imagine saying that to help me all the way was doing all she could for me!

It's no wonder I am so angry with her. She must have felt all I was capable of doing was killing it, and she so nicely obliged because, after all, it would have been a tough job to do it on my own. I'm sure she knew I was not capable of doing it on my own. I would have been too frightened. I hardly knew my way around Dublin.

I still see myself as responsible for my babies, but before I would lose that sense of responsibility when I felt angry at Betty. I wanted to see her as being all to blame. I know now that I am responsible, but I hate her for suggesting and helping me to kill my babies. It goes beyond hate what I feel.

The only people who could have changed my mind then were Michael and Betty, but they didn't. Will I ever be able to forgive them, Michael for remaining silent and Betty for going along with me?


Dear Friend, letter 3

We were married four years when Patrick was born. The only way to describe his pregnancy is that I was detached from him. I didn't wish, hope, enjoy or look forward to having him, and every now and again the fear of something being wrong with him would hit me. I felt I was really hard about the whole thing. I probably was.

I remember Michael's sister coming in to see me before I went down to the labour ward. I felt really sorry for myself and wanted to cry. I'm not sure if I did. I just put it down to the pain. I was extremely tense during the labour, so it was all very stressful and painful. I went into hospital about six in the morning. I think I told Michael he could go. Obviously I didn't expect him to stay. I didn't expect anything of him. The baby wasn't born until 2.00 pm, so I spent the most of that time on my own, until Betty came in. I was very detached from it all.

I seemed to be a lot more relaxed when I went into labour with Aisling, although I did worry a bit about something being wrong with her. But maybe I thought that when Patrick was OK, and I wasn't punished, I wouldn't be this time either. Her birth was very painful, but over quickly. I was delighted when they told me she was a girl.


Dear friend, letter 4

I feel like going to the doctor to get something to relax my mind. It is just going around and around. I can't stop it, so much confusion, anger, anger, anger and despair. I feel totally incapable of doing anything. It is so hard for me to live with Michael and he denying all this. And that is bad enough, but he tries to deny what I'm going through as well. I get so mad at him because he is saying it to some friends and they are saying to him the same as what he believes himself.

I find it so hard to believe in myself. I feel so angry at the whole world, but who can I say it to?

He said last night he didn't realise that it was a baby then, so I asked him why he used to think there would be something wrong with Patrick when he was born. I think his eyes filled up, but he got up real quick and made coffee. I wish I could accept that he doesn't want to face it, but the fact that I am trying to deal with it is such a threat to him. So he wants me to forget about it as well. I need some of your patience.

The babies' mother

The fact is I want his approval and acceptance and support at times. I'm still a child. It is so hard to have the patience to keep going. My anger some of the time is due to not being able to say it to him or at him, because of his denial.

I feel so hopeless. I feel so bad about myself for what I did, so much self-hatred and contempt, no forgiveness. It just seems so unforgivable, to kill my own two children. Regardless of what Michael or Betty said or did I was the babies' mother and I didn't give them a chance to live. That makes me so selfish and cruel. If I can do this to my own I couldn't care much about anyone else, and I don't think I have ever given a damn. All I wanted was people to care about me, I didn't give a damn about them.

Besides, now I feel such a hypocrite if I show concern for anyone else. It makes me so uncomfortable. I want to, at times, but I'm just so uncomfortable about it all. I must have been always like this to have done what I did. I only made all the problems worse. It is hard to believe that I could be so selfish. I will have to try being unselfish. I find it really hard to do.

I'm slipping from one thing to another. I sacrificed my babies to save myself. It's really awful, but true. I can't really blame Betty. I will just have to accept what I did was wrong or I made the wrong decision. I am still trying to find a good reason for having my abortion, and there isn't one. Maybe at the time they seemed valid enough, but not when I put my babies against them.

I wonder did I not allow myself to care for my babies back then, just in case I would be hurt too. I knew what I was going to do, so it may have been easier for me not to think or care for them, knowing they were going to die...