Teenager's plight should shame us all

By by Adrian Darbyshire adrian.darbyshire@iomtoday.co.im Twitter: @iomnewspapers in Health

A Manx teenager who found herself pregnant at 16 has told how she travelled to Merseyside to have a termination - and ended up in severe pain and drifting in and out of consciousness at Liverpool airport when the abortion began as she waited for her flight home.

Here is C’s account.

On Monday, November 28, I discovered that I was pregnant at 16 years old.

Initially I felt numb and disconnected due to shock, I contacted my boyfriend of six months and parents and I was extremely fortunate to have a strong support system.

I knew instantly what my decision was and that was that I wished to receive a legal and safe abortion.

Unfortunately for me and the women who do not wish to have the child we have conceived, we are forced to seek alternatives as the Isle of Man Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1995 makes it illegal for a woman to have an abortion on the Isle of Man.

The alternatives often suggested are the likes of adoption or simply having the child but the Isle of Man government and health care system cannot offer you an abortion therefore on my own accord I had to seek help off-island.

To give you a rough idea of costs, it’s around £150 for the flights off island if you’re travelling with support and the fee I was charged for the actual procedure was roughly £410.

I was early on in my pregnancy, six weeks and six days to be precise and since I was deemed healthy I was able to terminate my pregnancy by taking the medical abortion pill.

For those who know little about the procedure and so forth, I am going into further detail so perhaps you can get a better understanding.

I arrived at the clinic in Merseyside on December 9 at 12.03pm and I went immediately to the reception and the lady led me to the waiting room in which I filled out two forms to just cover medical details, birth date, etc.

Once I had handed those forms in I waited for a short while until I had a brief talk with one of the members of staff in a private room and was reassured that everything was confidential.

The member of staff asked me a number of questions to establish my reasoning for my decision and to ensure that it was my choice and that I did have support.

It wasn’t until around an hour later that the nurse assigned to me proceeded with a scan, externally and internally, and I also was asked about which method I wished to receive and I chose the abortion pill.

The abortion pill process consists of taking one pill, mifepristone, and then a further four tablets of misoprostol to insert vaginally.

I left the clinic at around 3.30pm for the airport to get a flight home but unfortunately my flight was not until 7.45pm and the abortion began taking place whilst I was in the airport.

I experienced quite severe pain, profuse sweating and going in and out of consciousness, all of this taking place in the airport toilet cubicle.

After I was unable to tolerate the pain any longer my boyfriend made the medical team at the airport aware of my situation and I was taken into the baby changing room and received gas and air.

I couldn’t help but think I wouldn’t be in such an uncomfortable, unfamiliar environment going through something so traumatic if abortion was legal on-island and I was able to be at home instead of on an aeroplane.

When the codeine I received began helping with the pain, I was deemed medically fit to fly.

I hope to see a day where fewer people perceive abortion as a heinous crime and something that every woman should be able to have the option of.

I am pleading all readers who are ’pro-life’ to consider that women aren’t looking at their growing uterus in anger and aborting a foetus out of malice but instead are making a choice for themselves, their quality of life.

Every woman’s choice to abort is as valid as next, some women cannot afford, some women are too young, some women simply do not want children and that’s okay because it’s their choice with what to do with a cluster of cells growing inside of them.

And that’s what it is, a cluster of cells, a foetus that has potential to be a person and if a woman decides to decline that potential, that is simply her own choice.

Abortion being illegal on island results in women having to seek options they may not be able to afford or alternatively are dangerous to their health and as somebody who is so fiercely ’pro-choice’ and has underwent an abortion I am biased but I just wish to ask the question, why is my life as a thoughtful human put at risk by denying me a safe abortion and valued less than the foetus I do not wish to carry?

One thing I took note of when I was in the clinic waiting room was the similar facial expression that every woman in there had, the look of emptiness and just feeling emotionally drained by this traumatic choice.

Some women there weren’t as lucky as I was to have support, some women were alone and nobody was there on a day so tough to be able to tell them that they’re going to be okay.

But this varies from person to person and I can say from the forms I filled out, you are offered therapy and professional psychological support.

I was pregnant at 16, I did get an abortion and along with the 95 per cent of women who receive an abortion (and the statistic is that one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime), I do not regret my choice.

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H Watterson · 194 days ago · Report

Actually 86% for 2015, with a high of 198,499 abortions in 2007 and an 11 year average just short of 190,000 looking at 2005-2015 stats. Truly shocking, quite unbelievable.

H Watterson · 194 days ago · Report

Affirm 50/50, strikes me as very peculiar. What do you think Dr Allinson? :) It is certainly not typical. Over 90% of the 185,000 plus abortions carried out in England and Wales every year are women over 20, a fair old age.

AGAG · 196 days ago · Report

"to use this to support a campaign is so wrong" @50/50, you're right, to consider first person testimony from someone actually affected by the issue would be terrible.

50/50 · 196 days ago · Report

Something isn't right with this story - it screams out that someone who supports a certain pressure group may have heavily influenced this letter for full impact. It is awful what the girl has experienced, but to use this to support a campaign is so wrong.

AGAG · 196 days ago · Report

The islands law on abortion is a disgrace, mainly because the law only applies to "poor" women. Those who can afford to go away to have it done, do exactly that. Arguably the very people who need it most, are denied it (i.e. scared schoolgirls who don't have a spare £600 knocking around).

Responsible · 200 days ago · Report

That is quite an unfortunate story, and I do support pro choice, however 16? That's irresponsible behaviour, if you cannot support yourself, take procautions and be a responsible teenager - like everyone else. Kids are too young to have kids.

Realist · 200 days ago · Report

"To give you a rough idea of costs, it’s around £150 for the flights off island if you’re travelling with support and the fee I was charged for the actual procedure was roughly £410." How much do condoms cost?

CClarke · 201 days ago · Report

@peejay145 We both agree that the law should be changed, so that's good! I just question the fact that you seem to be saying this woman did something wrong in the way she planned her travel arrangements! What could she have done differently that would have made her situation better?

DT · 201 days ago · Report

If men needed abortions you could get them at an ATM

manxman · 201 days ago · Report

pj do any of our elected members have any shame ? no they don't know the meaning of the word as some of there actions show

manxman · 201 days ago · Report

pj does any of our elected members have any shame they don't know the meaning of the word

CClarke · 201 days ago · Report

"why travel the same day if you have just started that procedure?" I think the point is that she shouldn't have had to have travelled at all, ie the law should be changed so that women can take those tablets here on the island! Are you suggesting that she should have paid to check into a hotel after starting the procedure? I don't think that undergoing pain and severe bleeding in a hotel room would have improved the situation for this woman.

TarooUshtey · 202 days ago · Report

Shocking. My respect and admiration to the young woman for sharing her distressing experience so that others are aware of the consequences of our legislation. It can't have been easy to relive the experience, but hopefully having done so will help change things for the better.

Post Truth Correctional Officier · 202 days ago · Report

A truly shocking case.

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