‘Some people might think it strange I'm talking about nearly aborting Alexandra...’

Claire Woods speaks to Kathy Sheridan on The Women’s Podcast about her crisis pregnancy, a missing IUD and her decision to cancel trips to England for an abortion


“Every pregnancy has a different story and you don’t know how you will feel until you are in that situation,” Claire Woods (23) tells Kathy Sheridan on the latest episode of The Women’s Podcast.

The Co Louth woman became pregnant last June despite having had an IUD implanted. While breastfeeding baby Alexandra in The Irish Times podcast studio, Woods tells Sheridan of the shock she felt when she discovered she was pregnant.

“I really was in denial ... it was not the right time for me ... I was a year out of college, I wasn’t living with my boyfriend, I had no savings” she says. “that’s not an ideal situation to bring a child into the world with parents who are not living together and are not committed to each other, that’s what I felt at the time.”

At one point, while in shock at the positive pregnancy test results, she went online and found stories about how false positives could sometimes be caused by ovarian cancer.

“I thought: God, I hope I have cancer, I know it’s a dreadful thing to say, but at that moment I felt cancer was something that was treatable in Ireland, It was nothing to be ashamed of, there was nothing I could have done to prevent it. I didn’t feel that people would judge me.”

The pregnancy occurred despite her having an IUD implanted, which she had got six months earlier because she and her boyfriend Peter believed it was the safest contraception option for them. When she went to the doctor she was told she was pregnant. There was no sign of the IUD which had cost 400 euro.

As far as she was concerned the IUD “was inside me and it was working ... to find out six months later I had a positive pregnancy test was a huge shock. For anyone out there with an IUD check your strings on a daily basis. I wish I’d known that”

The couple booked flights to England, with plans to have a termination. “I made and unmade my decision. The first time I couldn’t do it, so I cancelled it. Then two weeks later we booked again; we woke up very early in the morning, it was still dark outside. Peter said ‘do you think you can follow through, is there any point in us going over to Manchester today because you seem very undecided ... do you have a decision?’ At that stage I felt so numb, I wasn’t crying anymore. We didn’t travel”.

After considering adoption, the couple eventually decided to have the baby and keep her. Baby Alexandra was born two and a half months ago. Woods says she wanted to tell her story publicly because going through a crisis pregnancy has made her more pro-choice than ever before.

“We have 3500 women a year going over for this procedure, this country is not, as anti-abortion people say, a safer place for a foetus in Ireland, it’s a more awkward and horrible place for women who are going to have an abortion no matter what ... it’s not a safer place at all”

She said she would be happy for Alexandra to read her article and listen to the podcast when she is old enough: “Some people might think it strange that I’m talking so openly about how I nearly aborted Alexandra ... but I hope to raise someone who understands the situations women find themselves in, who realises she herself could be in a situation and, if she is, I hope she knows I would support her in whatever choice she decides to make.”

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