My name is Elizabeth and this story still makes me feel emotional as I tell it…
For years, I’d lived very close to the Marie Stopes abortion clinic and often seen people standing outside the entrance, sometimes praying, sometimes offering leaflets. To my neighbours and I, they seemed polite and friendly, never bothering anyone. I’d walk past and say hello occasionally and never see them upsetting anyone or pushing anything on people. In fact, I took very little notice of them, they didn’t concern me and I wasn’t bothered what they were doing – not then anyway…
I lived in a tiny, cramped, one bedroom flat with my husband and two children. Life was difficult. We struggled financially as my husband had no work, so when I unexpectedly became pregnant again it was quite a shock. We had so little money, space, everything…. while I was pregnant, my husband had to sleep on a mattress on the floor as my children shared our only bed. My son had health problems, the flat was damp and overcrowded and the thought of bringing a little baby into the situation just seemed impossible.
I struggled terribly thinking about what I should do. I spoke to my husband who told me he would accept whatever decision I made – to keep the baby or abort it. I’m sure it was his way of saying he supported me whatever I chose but it didn’t help at all, in fact, it made things even harder for me. It suddenly seemed like it was just my decision, that all the pressure was on me, that the choice to abort my child was mine – and mine alone . . . and, I felt, the guilt would be mine – and mine alone.
My blood pressure started to go up, I began to feel very depressed and that’s when I decided I just couldn’t cope. I booked an appointment at the local abortion centre.
I felt so terribly lonely as I made my way to the clinic, so full of guilt and hopelessness. I saw a man with his leaflets standing in the usual place and at once the whole thing seemed much more personal. I never dreamt I’d be in this situation as I approached the entrance but suddenly something caught my eye, a little board stood nearby with the words ‘Pregnant and need help? We can help’ written on it. It said the organisation’s name on the bottom ’40 Days for Life’. ‘Surely’, I thought, ‘people don’t really offer the sort of help that I need do they?’ It just didn’t seem possible. Just then the man approached me, he was from the same organisation and gently asked if I’d like a leaflet to read before I made a final decision. I took it and read it through. There was a telephone number in it for someone from ‘The Good Counsel Network’ and I decided I’d just check if there really was any genuine help available.
I spoke to a lady called Iulia who invited me to the Good Counsel Network office to chat with her about things. I felt I had nothing to lose so decided to go, but by the time I got there and tried to talk, I was so emotional I just couldn’t stop crying. I told her everything and to my surprise, straight away, the support started . . . and it’s never stopped.
The first thing they did was to push for help from the council with my housing situation, trying to get a more suitable place for us to live. It seemed there wasn’t a problem that couldn’t be solved! Whether it was beds for my family or a cot for the new baby, they provided me with them. There was always someone for me to talk to or to provide help with my children. Nothing was too much trouble. I was no longer alone. No longer struggling with an impossible situation, with problems I couldn’t solve. It wasn’t just the practical and financial help I was given, it was the emotional support that meant so much to me. These people cared about my situation and there was someone I could talk to whether it was morning, afternoon, evening or night time. I never imagined that people really do help others like that.
When I hear now about councils wanting to create ‘buffer zones’, areas around the abortion clinics where people from organisations like the ’40 Days for Life’ can’t stand, can’t give out leaflets and can’t speak to women like me who are so desperately in need of help, I feel disgusted. Having this abortion would have destroyed me. The guilt would have destroyed me. It would have destroyed my relationship with my husband. It would have destroyed my family. When I look at my beautiful little child who I might never have had, I do feel some guilt mixed up with my great love for him but above all, I thank God with all my heart that I didn’t abort him, and I thank God for the people who helped me, many of whom I think of now, not just as friends, but as family to me.
I only wish that one day I will get the chance to help another woman in the sort of situation that I was in, just as I was helped, and I would say to that woman: there really are people out there who will help you – who will back up their words with actions. You are not alone.
If you are experiencing a crisis pregnancy or know a friend who is, then please click this link to find out what support is available.