Belfast Telegraph

Abortion legislation ruling: Woman traumatised by abortion regret after being raped at age of 13

"I wish I could turn the clock back and I had kept my son"

A woman from Northern Ireland who became pregnant after she was raped at the age of 13 has told how she has been traumatised by her abortion.

It comes as a Belfast High Court ruled that the almost outright ban on abortion here breaches human rights legislation.

The landmark case on Monday could see a relaxation of the strict laws prohibiting women accessing terminations in cases of rape, incest or where there is a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality.

Speaking on the BBC's Stephen Nolan Show, the woman told how she was raped at just 13-years-old, travelled to England for an abortion and then returned to school the next day.

She told how she has gotten over the impact of the rape but that she is still haunted by her abortion and wishes she had made a different choice.

"When I was 13, I was raped and I conceived as a result of that rape. It was all very traumatic, my parents being God-fearing Christians coerced me into having an abortion and I had to go to England for that", she said.

"Then I had to come back and go back to school the very next day.

"It was all brushed under the carpet and my parents just thought that we could just forget about it.

"Fast forward 37 years and I've realised I'm suffering from post-abortion trauma, and because I was never able to forget about the abortion, about the son that I'd lost.

"Now it wasn't the trip to England that caused me all my strife during those years and it wasn't the rape itself - it was the abortion that caused the trauma.

"I'd like to say to women today that they should think twice, there is life after rape."

"I could have loved my son, I know that now. Even though he was conceived through rape I could have loved him."

She added: "The most horrendous thing was the abortion. The rape I've been able to get over, the trip to England, not a problem."

"I know many people through social medial all over the world who have been conceived in rape and went on to be born, they were very much loved, they are leading very fulfilled and happy lives.

"I wish I could turn the clock back and I had kept my son."

Earlier this morning DUP health minister Simon Hamilton revealed that he has issued new draft guidelines on abortion to Stormont ministers for review.

But Mr Hamilton said at this stage he could not reveal the details of what the new guidelines include.

He said: "It's very difficult for me to talk about this and understand what is must be like. It is inconceivable for me to understand what is like for a woman to be in that situation.

"I think that it is incredibly important that we deal with issues like that very, very sensitively.

"We have a law in Northern Ireland at the minute, I'm seeking to clarify that with the guidance that I've now issued, I think that will hopefully deal with this and other issues."

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New abortion guidelines for healthcare staff being considered by Stormont 

The woman whose experience highlighted the controversy over abortion legislation in Northern Ireland said she is "relieved" at the decision.

During Sarah Ewart's first pregnancy, the foetus was diagnosed at 20 weeks with anencephaly, a malformation of the brain and skull which meant there was no chance of survival outside the womb, and she risked being poisoned if the foetus died in utero. In 2013, Ms Ewart went public about having to travel to England to access termination services.

She told the Stephen Nolan show: "I can't believe the fear of going away is not there anymore. I'm so relieved.

"It's really important. I can't begin to explain how relieved I am.

"The judge has ruled in our favour so it's a start. We'll take small steps."

Sarah revealed that during her journey she has been the victim of online abuse.

"I've had messages of people wishing me all kinds of evil", she said.

"I was grieving, I lost a baby I wanted. You are grieving the loss of a baby, I'm just thankful that hopefully I won't ever need that again. Hopefully women will be treated here, this is a medical procedure.

"The baby I was carrying was never going to have a life. I wasn't destroying a life.

"It was never going to be a life for that baby."

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