Sunday 24 June 2018

My vote to help the teenagers bleeding in agony, alone

We have a chance now to end the grim experience of back-street abortion and break a shifty political silence

‘It is in hideous memory of her near death through back-street abortion that I will vote Yes to legalising abortion in the campaign to amend the Eighth, next Friday, albeit with reservation.’ (Stock Image)
‘It is in hideous memory of her near death through back-street abortion that I will vote Yes to legalising abortion in the campaign to amend the Eighth, next Friday, albeit with reservation.’ (Stock Image)

Nell McCafferty

Even as I write, a dozen teenage Irish women have today taken the first of two abortion pills. Soon they will go into labour and miscarriage, cramping and bleeding, in agony, in ignorance, in danger and alone. This is known as back-street abortion and it is sweeping Ireland. When I was a 20-year-old university student in Belfast in 1964, a woman came to my bedsitter, bleeding heavily from what she said was her period.

I put her to bed, lying on a bath towel. By the time I came back with a cup of tea, the towel was soaked with blood. Four towels later, the mattress was soaked and leaking. I suggested we call a doctor or an ambulance.

Her face contorted with fear as she begged me to do no such thing - she had an illegal abortion, her uterus pierced with a knitting needle wielded by the medical student who had impregnated her.

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