Lesley McAskie shares her story of rape aged 13 and the abortion that followed in the last of our Choose Life series.
With views currently being sought by the Northern Ireland Department of Justice on allowing abortion in the event of rape, her story is both timely and powerful.
“My abortion affected my life for 37 years,” she says. “I got over the rape but I never got over my abortion experience”.
Raped at the age of 13, her parents took her from Northern Ireland to England for an abortion.
A nurse explained the abortion procedure in a way that has stayed with her throughout her life.
She recalled the nurse saying: “‘They just put this instrument into you and then they chop it all up and they’ll suck it out into a bag and then they throw the bag in the bin.'”
Aside from that one conversation, just before going in for the abortion, she received no other information.
“I was given no counselling beforehand. I was given no counselling after it”.
As a consequence, the abortion experience still casts a long shadow over her life.
But her first-hand experience also makes her well placed to offer advice to women considering abortion in any circumstances but especially following a rape.
She says: “Think twice. Don’t go into having an abortion because it’s a quick fix – it’s not. That abortion experience will stay with you for the rest of your life. It will haunt you”.
“If a woman finds herself pregnant as a result of rape, she really needs to have some care. She needs compassion, she needs counselling, she needs a great deal of support. She doesn’t need another act of violence in abortion.”
As well as seeking views on allowing abortion in the event of rape, the Northern Ireland Department of Justice is recommending that abortions are allowed where the unborn child does not have a ‘viable life’.