British Woman Having One of the First Legal Abortions Regrets It 40 Years Later

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 6, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Woman Having One of the First Legal Abortions Regrets It 40 Years Later Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 6
, 2008

London, England ( — A British woman who had one of the first legal abortions after England legalized them in 1967 says she regrets her abortion even 40 years later. Jo Woodgate thought she would quickly forget the abortion procedure and be glad about ending her pregnancy, but she still mourns for the loss of the baby she should have had.

"Recently, my niece gave birth to her first baby. It should have been a joyful moment for the entire family, but as I stood looking at her cradling her newborn, I felt tears pricking at my eyes," Woodgate wrote in a London Daily Mail column.

"All of a sudden, I found myself being transported back in time almost 40 years, to the day that I was admitted to a small cottage hospital in Leicester for a termination," she added.

Her memories of the abortion were so vivid that she can still smell the disinfectant and see the "disapproving" looks on the faces of the staff at the facility.

Woodgate wrote in the newspaper article that her oldest daughter asked her what was wrong and that she could only respond about her excitement to be a great aunt.

"How could I admit that all I could think about was the baby I’d killed and what might have been?," the 67-year-old receptionist said.

Nowadays, Woodgate ponders the decades-old abortion and realizes she knows now that it wasn’t the quick fix she expected.

"We’re always told time is a great healer, but for me – at least when it comes to the termination I had – it has proved to be the opposite," Woodgate writes in the Daily Mail.

"I had an abortion believing it was the right thing to do, and I presumed I would move on from the procedure without so much as a backward glance. But I was wrong in thinking abortion was the easy way out of what, at the time, felt like an intolerable situation," she explained.

Ultimately, she writes that "with each year that has passed I’ve only felt a growing sense of guilt and regret over my actions."

And those regrets make her upset when she sees some women pursue abortion in a cavalier manner that disregards the long-term consequences.

"It makes my blood run cold when I hear of the many young women today who see abortion as little more than a form of contraception," she writes.

"Like so many young girls, I just saw it as an easy way out of a messy situation. With maturity, I’ve realized that life is complicated, and that getting rid of a baby to solve an immediate problem is not always the obvious solution it appears to be," she concludes.

Woodgate’s article follows the death of a British woman who committed suicide last month the abortion of her twin babies.

It also comes after a seminal New Zealand study showing 40 percent of women who have abortions experienced significant depression — a higher rate than women who carry their pregnancy to term.

Other studies have shown women who have abortions have higher levels of addictions to drugs or alcohol and higher suicide rates.