AC: That was twenty years ago, how do you feel about it now?
XX: I feel it’s a taboo subject and women like me should be able to talk about it. We shouldn’t be shamed because someone else doesn’t agree with it.
AC: Do you know anyone else who has had an abortion?
XX: Yes, I’ve helped other girls and at my own expense.
AC: Do you find that things have changed for Irish women?
XX: These days it’s a flight over and back on the same day. Where is the support there? Take for instance that girl in the media recently. That was just backstreet and horrendous. She wasn’t able to have the procedure or pre and after care that I had.
AC: What sort of follow up counselling did you receive?
XX: None. They gave me a high rate phone number to ring if I wanted to speak to someone. But that was the days when there was no internet or mobiles. I didn’t have a landline. All my calls were made on the phone box at the bottom of my street. It just wasn’t realistic.
AC: How were you treated by your family and friends since the abortion?
XX: I’ve been called a murderer but I know what I did was right for me, my body and my situation. Who do people think they are, trying to tell us women what to do with our lives? It’s wrong.
AC: What happened to you and your boyfriend after the abortion?
XX: We split up two months later. I bumped into him recently. He’s married with kids now. He said to me that we made the right decision. It gave me a bit of closure because I knew along we were too young and not ready to be parents together.
AC: Did you have any support when you and your boyfriend split up?
XX: My friend was brilliant but I just needed my Dad. He didn’t know until then. I was outside my house having a smoke and he arrived and just put his arms around me. He kissed my head and told me he loved me and that I did nothing wrong. I can still feel that hug to this day. It was all I needed at that time. I didn’t get that support from the women in my family. I was left to fend for myself. I’ve had to ask them to stop counting the age of what my child would have been.
It is only during this moment when talking about the relationship with her Dad that XX welled up, we took a break from the interview
AC: It was brave of you to talk about your abortion. How do you feel now that you’re older?
XX: I don’t see myself as brave but as someone who did the right thing for me at that time. That still applies to my future. I now own my house, finally I have a secure job that I love and have my own car. I have no regrets.
**If you find yourself in a similar position, you could get help from https://www.womenonweb.org/ however, it is illegal or you can make an appointment with https://www.mariestopes.org.uk/clinic/marie-stopes-northern-ireland-centre-belfast