My heart broke watching David, my husband, try to comfort my 22-year old daughter as he held her hand across the table. Lucy was inconsolable and sobbing. Lucy was distraught after she had made the difficult decision to end her six-week-old pregnancy.

David and I wanted to make sure she didn’t think any other way, so we told her that no matter what path she took, she would have our full support.

Like any loving parents, we’ve helped Lucy through various upsets — family bereavement, fall-outs with friends, break-ups with boys — but nothing as deeply upsetting as this. ‘You’ll get through this,’ David, an advertising manager, told her, his voice cracking with emotion.

She must have heard that phrase a hundred times — from us as well as Tom, her partner of two years, but also her older sister, her friends and even her boss.

Diane Davies, who had an abortion 30 years ago, reveals how different her 22-year-old daughter Lucy's experience has been (file image)

Diane Davies was a woman who experienced an abortion thirty years ago. She reveals the difference in her experience with Lucy, 22.

She was probably sick to hear that, I thought. I was also struck by the fact that Lucy, who was a trainee solicitor at the time, felt so distressed, but she had a small army ready to support her.

How different to my own experience of unplanned pregnancy 30 years before — coincidentally, at the same age Lucy is now.

As my daughter, I also struggled over this same issue, and eventually resolved to have an abortifacim because I was too young, financially unsecure, to carry a child into the world.

Lucy did not tell anyone she was pregnant. However, I felt shame and guilt so kept it secret. I told the father — a man I’d been seeing for three months and would go on to break up with shortly afterwards — out of moral obligation, but I didn’t tell my parents.

In reality, I only made the decision after having discussed it with one person: My GP. She referred me to my local hospitals for an operation a few days later.

I’m so glad that, by contrast, it never occurred to Lucy to keep her problem a secret.

One in every three women has an abortion at some point in their lives — and that number has increased only slightly over the past 30 years. However, few women ever speak out about the experience. Lucy’s candour, however, suggests that attitudes are changing.

Back in the early Nineties, single parenthood was stigmatised, and abortion wasn’t openly discussed.

I knew of only one friend who’d terminated a pregnancy, but she never talked about it.

Diane said she had been casually dating Michael for three months when she fell pregnant after the Pill failed (file image)

Diane claimed that she was casually with Michael for three years when she became pregnant following the Pill failure (file photo).

When I discovered I was pregnant, I was seven weeks gone, the excitement of starting my first full-time job as a trainee accountant meaning I’d barely noticed missing my period. When I was suffering from nausea every day, I took a test.

The moment that I laid down on my bed to watch it transform into something positive is the most vivid memory I have.

The father and I had been casually dating for three months after meeting at a mutual friend’s house party.

I felt so stupid for having got pregnant by someone I’d only recently met that I couldn’t face telling anyone else. I’d only just moved into a flat share with another girl. Looking back, my older self feels terrible about going through such a horrible experience all by herself.

I had been on the Pill, but it had failed, just as Lucy’s did. According to the NHS the Pill is only effective when used regularly (and not always perfectly), with a failure rate 9 per cent. However guilty I felt, I hadn’t done anything wrong. It was luck.

Fearful of what was to come, I would cry myself to sleep every night. 

I remember the look of bewilderment on my boyfriend Michael’s face when I told him. Three years older than me, Michael was a decent man; he said he’d support me whatever I decided to do. But however honourable his intentions were, those words — the same ones I said so resolutely to Lucy — carried little weight.

Michael is someone I have known for a very short time. He was able to guide me through the pain of terminating my marriage and help me to bring up my children. I really was all by myself. I was far from my closest friend who could be trusted. He had just moved to a new home four hours away. I didn’t want to share the news long distance.

My parents were close by, but I worried they’d either be furious, or so thrilled at the idea of becoming grandparents, they’d try to persuade me to keep it.

And so, for the next fortnight, I wrestled with a decision that had me veering from absolute certainty I didn’t want a baby to feeling warm and fuzzy at the idea of cradling my own child in my arms.

I cried myself to sleep each night, scared of the abortion procedure — I had no idea what it would entail and no one to ask — and the fear that I’d regret it for the rest of my life. The idea of being a mother terrified me equally. I was young and didn’t have my own home.

Diane said Lucy sounded like a frightened child when she phoned her in tears after finding out she was pregnant (file image)

Diane stated that Lucy was a scared child after she called her to tell her she was pregnant. File image

Lucy also felt that it wasn’t the right time to be a mom. Tom, 25, a 25-year old retail worker, found out she was pregnant when they had just started renting a 1 bedroom flat. She phoned me a few hours later in tears, saying she didn’t know what to do. I felt so sorry for her — she sounded like a frightened child. Within days, her older sister and Tom’s mum, Lucy’s closest friends and her boss also knew.

I was amazed at how transparent she was. She talked frankly about everything I’d wrestled with alone: one day exploring how she and Tom might afford to raise this baby; the next saying she couldn’t take on such a huge responsibility.

She was a strong woman and I found it admirable that she didn’t let shame dictate her suffering. I was able to offer support to Tom and acknowledge that he had been deeply affected.

However, Lucy sharing such intimate information with her boss was something I initially found offensive. Not knowing his stand on abortion — not everyone agrees it’s a woman’s right; you only have to look at what’s happening in Texas right now, where abortion has been made illegal after six weeks’ gestation, to appreciate that — it seemed risky to me.

Of 5 friends she told, 2 revealed they’d also had an abortion 

‘I need time and space to work this out,’ she told me. ‘I don’t want to lie to anyone to get that.’ He proved her right, immediately offering compassionate leave to deal with something so difficult. As I thought back to 30 years, I pictured myself sitting at my computer pretending that everything was okay while simultaneously running my thoughts through endlessly inside my head. I was glad she’d been spared that.

Meanwhile, out of the five friends Lucy told, two revealed to her that they’d also had an abortion.

She was surprised they hadn’t told her. She was surprised that they hadn’t told her.

David and I couldn’t do much for Lucy the following few weeks except hold her in our arms, telling her she was free to make any choice. We did remind her that she had the choice to choose to be there or not, however difficult it was. Beyond that, whatever our feelings, they didn’t matter.

It’s fine as a parent to say what you really think about your daughter’s choice of boyfriend or if she’s buying the right car. This was Lucy’s final decision and she would have to live with it for her entire life. We had no rights to change this.

Diane said she only told Lucy about her abortion after she had decided on hers, because she didn't want to influence her (file image)

Diane claimed that she told Lucy only about her pregnancy after she made her decision. This was because she did not want to affect her decisions. (file image).

That’s not to say David and I didn’t quietly imagine how wonderful it would be to experience next Christmas as grandparents; or worry ourselves stupid over the impact having a baby so young would have on Lucy’s life.

I only told Lucy about my own abortion after she’d decided on hers, again because I didn’t want to influence her. It was a relief to her to hear that I understood how I felt. The only other person who has ever known about my abortion — beyond Michael, who I decided not to see again — was David.

When we tried to start a family together, I said it. We started to imagine what it was like being parents.

It turned out he’d supported a girlfriend through an abortion, too. They’d also gone through the experience alone. It was an amazing relief to realize he truly understood.

My father drove me to the hospital and returned hours later with me. The procedure was performed under general anaesthesia. The procedure was over a long time ago that I don’t remember much about it. I asked Michael to bring me home, and he refused.

I didn’t tell my flatmate, although I should have done, having lied to the nurse discharging me that I’d be looked after at home.

Lucy was able to have her termination performed by the NHS at a British Pregnancy and Advisory Service clinic. She also received a general anaesthesia. Lucy then had her partner there to care for her. Tom returned to work the next day, so I helped to clean the house, fill the fridge and prepare a meal for Lucy. Lucy was lying on the couch, still asleep, while Tom went to work.

It was obvious she didn’t want to talk; I sensed she didn’t even want me to hold her. I scrubbed her kitchen floor, trying to not cry when I realized Lucy feels just like I did all those years back.

But at least she was able to recover at home, her GP having signed her off sick from work for a couple of weeks, her friends knowing why she didn’t want to meet at the pub or go for a meal.

My experience was different. I called in sick to have my procedure performed on Friday. After that, I went home and took the rest of the weekend to heal.

Diane said Lucy still gets upset, but two months on and she seems to be getting back to her old self (file image)

Diane stated that Lucy is still upset by her, but she appears to be returning to her former self two months later (file image). 

As post-pregnancy hormones caused me to feel anxious and depressed, it was exhausting pretending nothing happened. For weeks afterwards I’d go home, force down some food, and go to bed. My family and my friends were absent.

Guilt ruined any relief that I got from not being pregnant. It doesn’t haunt me now, but I do look back with sadness. It was a good thing that I had the knowledge to assist my daughter.

Lucy is back to normal after two months, but she’s still upset.

She said she felt sad for the past, but eventually was relieved to have made that decision. The majority of women who decide to abort their child feel exactly the same. I can’t imagine making such a choice lightly.

I’m just glad my daughter didn’t have to make it alone.


The idea of going through this experience alone, not talking to anyone beyond Tom about what I’ve been feeling, is unimaginable to me. My family, friends, and my boss were there to help me get through.

It was a huge decision to decide whether or not to terminate my pregnancy. I needed to make sure it was right.

It was my goal to give all of my effort into that endeavor. Having to lie to people about why I was sad, or didn’t want to be in work, would have made it all so much harder.

I find it difficult to imagine my mom suffering by herself. When she told me I cried, because I couldn’t imagine going through this without telling anyone, especially her.

I’ve always believed every woman should be able to take this option without being judged for it.

I’m speaking out now because I believe it’s important to have the support of those you love and trust while you make this difficult decision. Otherwise, there’s the risk you’ll spend too much time stuck in your own head; being racked with guilt and shame doesn’t help anyone.

It was also helpful that Tom and me were honest about our feelings, which helped to recognize his pain. This helped both of us to see this as something we shared, and not as something that was mine.

If just one woman reads this and feels it’s OK to tell other people what she’s going through, at least something good will have come from what’s been, without doubt, the hardest time of my life.

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