This is an exclusive interview with an Ulster woman of a very different character. Deborah McAleese’s interview in the Belfast Telegraph with a housemate of the young woman convicted of self aborting is searing, very hard to read.
Oddly the impact was less in voice on the Nolan show ( substitute ) because the housemate was composed two years after the event. In Nolan style she was pressed repeatedly for her reaction but held her ground. Her line was ” You can’t put a baby in the bin. It gives me flashbacks. It was a week before we spoke to the police.”
I call it a baby because it had proper toes, fingers… It was a baby..” I was preoccupied with my friend ( the other housemate) because she had had a miscarriage.. She offered to take the baby.. It is not an abortion war it is completely not. We were scared, there was a baby in the bin and we didn’t know what to do…. It’s not that we wanted her punished it’s just that you can’t put a baby in the bin. I don’t even know how to comment on the sentence. You have to abide by the law until it’s changed.
I think she felt she had no option. She didn’t want to tell her parents. It was a huge thing to ask us not to tell . I did feel bad but there were two lives in this I had to do something. She isolated herself. That was her choice. Two years on I would probably have contacted someone to counsel her.. but I wasn’t there when it happened. “. She has a new baby with a new guy now and seems ok… . I don’t want to get into this Facebook battle.”
The real life account provides powerful material for both sides of the argument over abortion. The description of formed human features at 10 to 12 weeks regularly used by by “pro-life” supporters, is hard to bear. The young woman’s action is a grim product of the bankruptcy of centuries of repression which isolated and punished those who deviated from imposed norms. It is not necessary to approve of abortion” “on demand ” to find their outlook wanting. The episode is an indictment of the establishments who have thwarted attempts at providing sexual guidance for women every step of the way.
We are now in a sort of unsatisfactory half way house between formal censure and reform. No one will go to jail for self aborting though the verdict may be different for anyone procuring an abortion.
The appalling individual choice the young woman made and the manner of its execution has to seen in that light. Condemnation of the housemates for reporting her to the police is equally misplaced.. It is too easy for say there were better ways.
I am as shaken as anyone by the description of a recognisable and potentially viable foetus on the way to a dustbin. But it has not changed my view that abortion should be legalised and carried out as early as possible. Medically certainly and even emotionally this is a manageable issue. The viability of human life cannot be left to “God”. It is a matter for human decision carried in law. All parties to the tragedy should be spared the detritus of vicious comment, if necessary also by the law.
It will be interesting to read the Editor’s’ Viewpoint
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London