“We cannot change yesterday, it has gone, but we can learn from it, to make our tomorrows what we want, without fear, guilt or regret.”

As a member of society, my stance on abortions is that it is for the individual or individuals, in the case of a partnership, to decide upon what must perhaps be the most important decision they are ever going to have to make, to bring another human being into the world or to terminate it! And nobody can make this decision for someone else. No one else can be in the mind of another person, no one else can feel the pain – emotional, physical, psychological or spiritual – of another person. One would have to wear their skin, think their thoughts, feel their very emotions and, therefore to me, it is a very personal decision and one which should not be taken lightly nor be clouded in any way by fear and guilt being imposed on them by others.

As a counsellor, I do not have a personal view as I am completely non-judgmental. I am there for my client and her welfare and well-being. I am not there to advise the client of my thoughts on what is right or what is wrong. I am there to try to guide my client, to open up her mind, to explore every possibility and to enable her to be able to make up her own mind when coming to a decision regarding what is best for her. If, after all of this, the client decides a termination is in her best interest, I counsel her on not having future regrets, nor fear and guilt, but to look forward to her future, clear in the knowledge that whatever her decision is, she has made the right choice for her. Once she has had the termination, she should not be disregarded. She will need love and understanding, someone to talk to, someone to reassure her and build up her self-esteem, to enable her to learn from this experience and to use it to go forward to make her life a better one.

There are many reasons why people might decide upon terminations. Young girls who are hardly more than babies themselves sometimes find that they are pregnant. For a young girl to become pregnant, it is not necessarily that she ‘sleeps around’; indeed it is more often than not the ones who have little or no prior sexual knowledge or experience who find themselves in this predicament. If the father is one of her peers, he is also more likely to be inexperienced. The fact that they find themselves in this position surely goes to prove this point. Also, if they are so ignorant of the facts, it is more than likely that they have had no discussions pertaining to sex with their parents and, if this is the case, they will find it almost impossible to explain to their parents that they are pregnant. What are they to do, to where do they tum?

These youngsters are constantly bombarded with media hype on sex and it leads to a pressure which screams that if they aren’t already doing it, there is something wrong with them. This is the society they are growing up in and this is the society that adults are providing for them. Their curiosity is awakened, without the knowledge of understanding, control, love and respect amongst many other things. Their bodies may be mature enough, but rest assured, they are not yet ready to take on the emotional, psychological or spiritual burdens of sexual encounters, especially those resulting in pregnancies.

However, with parental love and understanding, and with the help and acceptance of society, it is possible for them to keep the baby and be allowed to mature into adulthood with as few emotional scars as possible should they decide against abortion. A rape victim usually has to endure the psychological and emotional traumas of the rape, together with the fear of having been given any sexually transmitted diseases. Imagine then, that she finds herself pregnant. Pregnant to someone she doesn’t know, possibly could not even identify, to whom she has no emotional attachment or feeling. Someone who has physically and emotionally hurt, abused and degraded her in the worst possible way — could she ever find it in her heart to love this child, now growing within her? What is she to do?

Mature adults may find themselves pregnant, either by fault or design, only to realise later that the pregnancy is, for them, the wrong outcome to their lovemaking even if they are in a long term relationship or marriage. Some will discuss the problem with their partner, whilst others will not even mention it to them for fear of becoming compromised and may go straight for an abortion instead. Even so, the impact of a pregnancy termination will have a lasting effect on them and they should seek help openly and honestly without shame in order to come to terms and fully understand and accept their actions without fear or guilt.

Imagine, if you will, a young woman who is divorced with children from that marriage, having an affair with a married man. The relationship has already been going on for around five years and she is hoping that he will leave his wife. He has promised faithfully that he will divorce his wife as soon as the time is right and they can then be together for ever and ever! She becomes pregnant to him and is overjoyed; now he will surely leave his wife — what luck this pregnancy is. But he doesn’t want to hear of it and, because of his children and his existing wife, the time is not right yet.

As a result, he tells her to just abort it and that he will pay for it. He promises faithfully that when the time is right, he will divorce his wife and then they can have more children and be happy together. So, she has the already! Is abortion his method of birth control? The young woman is almost a wreck, but she still carries on the affair because she loves him and she knows that when the time is right, he will leave his wife and they will then be together for ever and ever, because he has promised so. What to make of this? The 22 year-old student, away at university, gets pregnant. She comes from a strong religious family, who are totally against abortion. However, when she tells her parents, they are extremely understanding and forgiving and they tell her to come home and even arrange for the termination. The student is surprised, as she really didn’t have to say anything and the decision was made for her, much to her relief.

However, after the termination and her recuperation, her mother tells her she understands and nothing more will ever be mentioned about it again. Within two years the girl is ‘off the rails’, indulging in drinking, bad company and occasional drug experimentation.

Her parents are devastated as they cannot understand what has just happened. They have given her everything, stood by her during “you know what” and made sure nobody knew about it. None of their friends knew about it and they never spoke about it, so what more did she want? Some desperately want children. Imagine their joy when they find that they are pregnant.

Imagine their devastation should they then be told that either their foetus has a life threatening health problem or that the pregnancy would be a health threat to the mother, and a termination is hence recommended. Under these circumstances, counselling is extremely advisable as, whatever the outcome of the counselling, either carrying the foetus to full term or termination of the foetus’ life will entail a great deal of support needed by the client – emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually – in order to reassure her that none of this is her fault, to help rebuild her self-esteem and confidence and enable her to be able to carry on and face the world in order to grow to her full potential.