Belfast Telegraph

A termination is the easiest thing to condemn ... until you are faced by situation

By Niamh Horan

Abortion is the easiest thing in the world to be against. Until you find yourself in a crisis pregnancy.

Most people will be lucky enough never to find themselves in that position.

And because of social stigma and shame, most of you will never know if your daughter, sister or best friend – even girlfriend – has ever gone through the traumatic experience of having to undergo an abortion.

Thankfully, she'll pick up the phone and make that call alone.

She'll lie awake at night, alone, and wonder if she is making the right decision.

She'll go through a procedure with no one holding her hand, or rubbing her brow, no one by her side to tell her that it's OK. That she's not a bad person.

That mistakes happen.

She'll come home and hide it. And the physical aftermath and the terrible pain and the endless sleepless nights and the night terrors and self-loathing.

If she's lucky she might come to terms with it quicker than others.

Chances are she won't. Because – as we've figured out by this stage – she's only human.

She'll go back to her job and have to leave the office every so often when a panic attack rises up inside her, out of nowhere, for no reason. She'll wake up in a cold sweat when flashbacks take over her mind.

She'll withdraw from friends, close relationships, her family. But that's all OK for the rest of us because we've got to keep our conscience clear that it's not happening on our turf.

Because, at the end of the day, that makes us feel like good people.

And we allow ourselves to believe that we still maintain decency in our otherwise pretty liberal lives because we can casually defend what they call 'pro-life' over a coffee with friends, pints with a mate or with our family when it comes on our television screens.

But it's all meaningless, really, because we will never be there. We'll never really go that journey.

People – who have never had to go through an abortion – talk about 'pro-choice' as though it is the process of choosing between two paths – full of abundant possibilities.

My guess is that Frederica Mathewes-Green got a bit closer to the reality when she described it as the same choice an animal caught in a trap has when it wants to break free from its own leg.

No woman ever wants to go down that road.

If it was your mother, daughter, sister, friend, you had to look in the eye just before she made that journey.

If she looked at you and said 'mam, dad I need your help' or confided in you, as a friend, and said 'I don't want to go through with this'?

What would you say? If you need any help with your conscience I can only nod towards German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer who noted: isn't compassion the basis for all morality?

You can argue the rights and wrongs of it until the end of time but it's only possible for people to cling to their own little non-reality-based theories when they don't have real living examples in front of them.

It's about visibility. It will take people who have gone through it to speak out. Personal stories from every section of society.

Rich, as well as poor. Old as well as young. Married as well as single.

They are out there. You are just not hearing them because these girls and women are just too terrified and too ashamed to talk.

I think it is amusing – all those people who say they are 'pro-life'. As Caitlin Moran pointed out – they wax lyrical about the sacrosanctity of life when they have also demonstrated, fairly comprehensively, that they can happily live alongside everything that is contrary to that.

They walk past the homeless on the street with a shrugging acceptance, in the same way as they flick over the channel after a few minutes when confronted with people living in the depths of war or famine.

But, hey, they can all easily live with that too because most will never find themselves in their terrible position.

Just like abortion. It's the easiest thing in the world to be against.

Until you find you are faced with it yourself.

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