'An Abortion Leaves a Woman Needing a Colostomy Bag, at Greater Risk of Developing Breast Cancer and More Likely to Abuse Any Children She Has Later in Life'; This Is What This Young Woman Was Told When She Went to an Advice Centre about an Unwanted Pregnancy. Abortion Remains the Most Divisive Issue in Ireland but Wherever You Stand, Her Astonishing Report Will Shock You to the Core
Byline: by Sinead Ahern
THIS WEEK pro-choice group, Choice Ireland, called for regulations to outlaw the 'rogue' pregnancy agencies which purport to be unbiased, but actually intimidate women into steering clear of abortions. An undercover investigation into the counselling services at Dublin, Cork and Limerick found that women were being shown graphic images of foetal remains, as well as being told that ending a pregnancy could quadruple their chance of cancer and make them more likely to abuse children. Sinead Ahern, 25, exposes the scare tactics being employed at one centre in Dublin.
THE ad in the Golden Pages was almost a whole page. Under the name British Alternative Pregnancy Service was a picture of a woman with her hand on her stomach and a list of services: 'Crisis pregnancy advice, family planning and post abortion counselling'.
It looked the same as all the other crisis pregnancy agencies. There was no indication that it would offer services that were any different. At the bottom it listed offices in Dublin, Manchester and London and an 1890 number.
I called. A woman with a Northern accent spoke to me and introduced herself as Kate. She asked me how she could help.
I told her that I thought I was pregnant. She asked me how far along I was and I told her six weeks. She asked me what was I thinking of doing and I told her I was considering an abortion.
That was on a Thursday afternoon. She offered me an appointment to come to visit them on Saturday in their Dublin clinic, and gave me an address on Dorset Street.
Just before midday I arrived to find a shabby building with a shop window with closed curtains and a sign WRC (Women's Resource Centre) above the door. There was no indication that its counsellors would give me anything other than frank and impartial compassionate advice.
I knocked on the door and was led into a small waiting room, where the radio was playing and there were general medical leaflets scattered on a table - it could have been any down-at-heel local GP's.
After waiting for around 15 minutes, a girl with an English accent came running out of one of the rooms in floods of tears. 'Stay away from them,' she told me.
She was about 27 or 28, well dressed and she looked like the kind of girl that could handle herself.
It was horrible to see. I wanted to run after her and explain the kind of business this was but I couldn't. I was undercover and needed to keep up my role as a scared young girl with an unwanted pregnancy.
Minutes later I was ushered in by a counsellor who smiled at the girl's distress. 'Some people!' she shrugged, implying that the girl was unbalanced.
In a small basement room, with low light and low ceilings I got a taste of the treatment that left this girl so upset. I was shown distressing pictures of aborted foetuses, told horror stories of people needing colostomy bags after an abortion and advised that if I didn't keep my baby I could get cancer and would be more likely to become a child abuser.
If I didn't have the whole session recorded on tape, I would hardly believe it.
My counsellor, a woman in her thirties with long dark hair, began by taking my medical history and asking me what my relationship status was.
As part of my story, I told her I had a boyfriend but that I hadn't told him because I thought he'd want me to keep it.
I wanted to make the decision myself. She asked me for his telephone number, obviously with a view to persuading him, and I gave a number for one of my friends.
She asked me what contraception I was on and I told her I was on the pill and that we used condoms too. I explained that I was on antibiotics, that obviously affected the pill and that the condom had broken.
'Well, you know the pill is harmful anyway,' she said. 'We don't recommend that you take it.' She asked me if all the messing with the hormones seemed healthy to me and then told me that condoms were not effective and could be carcinogenic. …