Woman ‘felt like a criminal’ after botched UK abortion
‘Laura’ recounts having to cover up medical complications after return to Ireland
Laura: ‘I think they all knew what had happened, it was so obvious that I was lying. I just wasn’t willing to explain it to them’
A young woman has said she was made feel like a criminal when she was hospitalised with medical complications after returning to Ireland following an abortion in Britain.
Under the pseudonym ‘Laura’, the woman recounted her ordeal of having to cover up her botched termination despite weeks of heavy bleeding and excruciating pain that she held back from her family, friends and work colleagues.
In March last year, the woman (then 24) and her boyfriend were left “absolutely devastated” when the found out she was pregnant, knowing they had “absolutely nothing to provide for a child”.
“We just knew deep down in our hearts we were not ready to have a baby,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
After assessing their options, she decided to travel to Manchester while six weeks pregnant to take an abortion pill at a clinic.
But in the airport awaiting her flight home, Laura began to suffer severe and unforgettable pain. “The cramps were so intense. I’ll never forget the pain I was in that airport,” she said.
“I was getting agitated that I was in so much pain. I was in and out of the toilet to see if I was passing the pregnancy.
“I wasn’t - it was just extreme cramps, and I had to ask a a businessman to get off of his chair so I could sit down for a few minutes . . . I had to bend my back into a ball because I was in extreme back pain.
“When I got onto the plane I was praying to myself ‘please, don’t let me pass this pregnancy on this flight’. Luckily I didn’t and my friend drove to the airport; luckily we had a lift to get back to my hometown,” she said.
When she arrived home at midnight her mother asked where she had been all day, but she “just ran to the toilet, I passed the pregnancy there and then, and I just went to bed”.
But the bleeding continued for weeks afterward, she said.
When it finally stopped for a few days, she went to the gym where she “got a tap on the shoulder from my friend who said you’re after soiling the back of your trousers with blood”.
Laura contacted the British abortion clinic where a nurse told her to take a pregnancy test. She did and it turned out positive. Telephoning the clinic again for advice, she was told it can take “ages” for her hormones to return to normal levels.
However, her health continued to deteriorate further.
“The bleeding got extremely heavy and I wasn’t feeling very well. I woke up on a Friday morning, getting ready for work and my bed clothes were completely destroyed with blood.
“I couldn’t walk more than 20 steps without the feeling of having to push something out. I worked a full 12-hour shift because I couldn’t afford to lose any hours.”
After the shift she drove to an A&E in Dublin because she knew too many people in the emergency department closest to her. But even then Laura said she couldn’t bring herself to tell the doctors that she had an abortion.
“I just told them I had a miscarriage and did nothing about it. I was terrified. I didn’t know what way I was going to be treated by the medical staff, and I nearly felt like a criminal for having that choice over my body.
“I didn’t know how to react, all I knew was that I had to keep lying and lying - I was putting lies on top of lies, and I was tripping over them, I was forgetting what I was saying.
“But I think they all knew what had happened, it was so obvious that I was lying. I just wasn’t willing to explain it to them. I have to say, they did respect that.”
After some tests, Laura was told she was close to sepsis and needed emergency treatment. She needed new blood and was immediately given antibiotics.
After an internal examination, a consultant was called because she was bleeding so heavily. The consultant booked her in for a procedure known as a Dilation and Curettage and told her to get some rest.
“That was the nicest thing anyone had said to me over the 16 hours in hospital,” Laura said.
Now campaigning for Together for Yes, Laura said she believes she should have had access to abortion services in her own country.
“Women are having abortions under the Eighth Amendment anyway - they are doing it illegally or going abroad,” she said.
“I feel a lot of women are left with no choice but to do it under methods that put their lives in danger . . . we as a nation cannot hide this any more.”