By Sarah Terzo
When a woman called Joan Paton was seeking an abortion, her husband went to court to stop her. Author Mary Kenny describes how she felt when she heard on the radio that Paton had had the abortion.
“I remember sitting there and feeling a personal sense of loss. I felt it right there in my belly: a pang. I have had this feeling again since, when sitting in waiting rooms and clinics preparing to interview abortionists for this book. As women have come in, visibly pregnant, I have experienced a sense of melancholy that a life is about to be lost….
She tells the story of a woman who wrote an article in a prominent newspaper asking if she should have an abortion. She describes what happened, how many other women sent a letter:
And I know many women share it, whatever their intellectual views of abortion. In April 1983, a young woman called Lynn Reed wrote a short article for the Daily Mail under the headline “Should I Have an Abortion?” She was aged 35, divorced, and unintentionally pregnant by her boyfriend. The letters poured in – over 500 of them. Of these 452 pleaded with Lynn not to terminate the pregnancy, and many alluded wistfully to regrets about personal abortion decisions. The most common theme was loss, the most common coda to each letter was, “I have never really spoken about this before – please do not reveal my real name.” 59 letters were ambivalent. Eight letters argued for abortion.”
Mary Kenny, Abortion: The Whole Story (London: Quartet Books, 1986) p. 5.