How does it feel to campaign against racism, “ve been coming”, have an abortion or lose a parent to suicide? People who went through the same things, years apart, share their stories
‘ The biggest achievement of the anti-abortion lobby is attaining girls feel guilty’
Sam , 26, and Diane Munday, 88, had abortions five decades apart
Sam and Diane are sitting in Diane’s front room in Hertfordshire, hands warmed by mugs of coffee, chit-chat as if they are old friends. In fact, they have just congregated, brought together by their similar personal and political know-hows, which has just taken place some 50 years apart.
” Back in the 1960 s , none has spoken about abortion. It was a word that was never said, never written ,” says Diane. When her dressmaker and friend, married with three young children, died from a backstreet abortion,” it knocked me between the eyes ,” she says. She thought of her again when, married with three children herself, she got pregnant at 29:” I knew the time that maternity affirmed that I wasn’t going to continue with it. I had reached my limit in my events .”
Her choice, in 1961, was between an illegal abortion, and paying a doctor to say that a legal end was necessary for health concludes; she opted for the latter. Diane’s abortion took place on Harley Street in London.” Oddly, I came round from the anaesthetic remembering the young woman who died. She was dead and I was alive because my husband and I, borrowing from my mother, could yield an abortion. I told us to myself:’ I will fight for other women to have the privilege of being able to control their own fertility .'” Diane went on to play a key role in helping to change the law:” And here you interpret me, aged 88, still opposing .”
She turns to Sam:” So tell me about your experience .” Sam interprets, that after she suffered horrid side-effects from hormonal contraception she and her then-boyfriend tried natural family planning, which flunked.” The first time I was pregnant, two summers ago, I was terrified. I didn’t have a stable tie-in, a good job, a proper dwelling I could grow a child in. I was too young .” Diane answers, gently:” It wasn’t right for you .”
Thanks to activists such as Diane, who fought for the Abortion Act 1967, Sam had a legal end at a Marie Stopes clinic.” I decided to have a surgical abortion under general anaesthetic because I was so afraid, but it was fine ,” she says.” The only hour I actually felt scared was going through to the operating theatre. I started to cry, and asked someone to hold my hand. Then I was out.
” There’s still a lot of stillnes. I experienced the stillnes so suffocating, I decided to talk about it on Twitter. I was scared of anti-choicers harassing me, but within a few hours at least 40 people had messaged me, committing their reinforcement. It was mostly women who’d had abortions, saying they had never spoken about this before, that their own families didn’t know .”
Sam is outraged to hear that Diane had a similar experience, half a hundred years ago. She met the Abortion Law Reform Association( now Abortion Rights ), in 1962:” The first public convene I spoke at, I moved in shiver. They were respectable dames wearing hats and gauntlets. I stood up and said,’ I have had an abortion .’ During the tea delay these ladies came up to me, one after the other, saying,’ You know dear, I had an abortion back in the 30 s, I’ve never told anybody before .’ I wasn’t alone .”
Despite Sam’s openness, she still felt a sense of shame when she needed a second abortion after disaster contraception neglected; by now, she says,” I knew the relationship was not one that I could have a child within .”
” Again, you made a responsible decision ,” Diane reassures her.” I genuinely think it’s the biggest achievement of the anti-abortion lobby: doing women found guilty .”
Diane drank only half a glass of champagne when abortion was partially legalised in 1967, and is still waiting to drink another half glass: she says she will not rest until it is legal for everyone. Sam, who expeditions for Marie Stopes, agrees:” The only thing left now is for abortion to be taken out of criminal law and be treated as a healthcare issue across the UK, including Northern Ireland. It’s for us to continue the work. I’m so grateful that you all crusade so hard for us to have those rights ,” she tells Diane.
Diane smiles.” That obligates me feel very happy. There are only a couple of us early innovators left now – you’ve got to carry that combat on for other women .”
Sam has rends reeling down her necks.” Do you crave another coffee ?” requests Diane, gently.
‘ We’re hearing the exact same innuendoes and events as we did 40 years ago ‘
Roxy Legane, 28, and Nona Ferdon, 91, civil rights activists
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