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I Told My Mum I Was Going on an RE Trip

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In February 2017, I was lucky enough to see the play

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I Told My Mum I Was Going On An RE Trip, in Manchester,

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when Contact and Liverpool-based 20 Stories High developed this

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piece of theatre about abortion.

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It's a verbatim piece made from hundreds of hours of interviews,

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with young women in Britain and in Northern Ireland.

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And you'll see that the four young actors have earpieces

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and are actually listening to the original recordings

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as they perform.

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The subject is challenging and some viewers might find it upsetting.

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But on the 50th anniversary of the legalisation of abortion in Britain,

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writer Julia Samuels explores the ways in which society deals with

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the subject, how it impacts on women today and, importantly,

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asks the question - what would happen if we started to talk

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openly about it?

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This programme contains some strong language and scenes which some viewers may find upsetting.

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Three, two, one, play.

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-RECORDING PLAYS THROUGH EARPHONES:

-My name's Paige...

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My name's Paige. I've had three pregnancies, two with terminations,

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and one, I had a child.

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My first pregnancy, when I was 17, which I terminated.

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My second, I was 20, gave birth at 21.

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And then my third, I was still 21, six months after having

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my daughter, Paitlyn.

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I'm Leah, 22. I have four kids.

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I had my first child at 16,

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and I had the abortion at about 17.

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Em...

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I'm going to talk a wee bit about it.

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I'm Tanaya and I'm 24 years old,

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and when I was 16, I had an abortion.

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My impregnator was a 21-year-old drug dealer,

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and so it was just not ever going to be the right thing for me to do.

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One, two, one, two.

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This is Cousin on the mic.

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From Manchester to Liverpool to Belfast...

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to Harare, Zimbabwe.

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My story goes undocumented, unrecorded.

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But I have a story to tell.

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So check it.

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Like, any girl over here,

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we would be really uneducated about it, really.

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There's nothing over here for them, other than Google.

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Of course, we typed it into Google, all the horrific stories come up

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and the pictures come up.

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-Did you learn anything in school?

-Never did anything about it

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in science, never did anything about it in, you know, social health...

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-Yeah.

-..or anything like that.

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It wasn't a very openly talked about thing, unless it was sort of

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in the nervous kind of joking sense.

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I know, like, a lot of young males

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like to joke about a lot of things, especially when it's a serious topic

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like this. So the only thing I'd ever really learned about it

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from friends was, like, jokes about like promiscuous girls

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getting abortions and whatnot, which is obviously false,

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but I think that's about it from like...

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-From friends?

-Yeah. Mad friends.

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I had a pregnancy scare. I wasn't pregnant, but I was talking

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to my sister and I was going, "Oh, my God, I'm pregnant.

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"I'm going to have to get an abortion, I'm going to have

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"to get an abortion." And I was going, "Is it like how they say

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"in like Dirty Dancing?" I was just absolutely convinced

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that I was going to end up like Penny, just like on the bed

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with Patrick Swayze next to me, going, "What are you doing?!"

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It's a bit weird.

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-I think if I had Patrick Swayze next to me...

-Yeah.

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-..I would have gone through the process.

-Yeah, me too!

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I went to a Catholic school, and in RE, I was shown

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an abortion video. Not only did it have what looked like

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a full-term baby shown on the screen, but it had, like,

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horror music with a piano.

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Like the Psycho music.

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-You know like?

-Yeah. Psycho music.

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Proper "eee, eee, eee, eee, eee!"

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THEY GIGGLE

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When I found out I was pregnant the first time,

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I decided literally from the get-go.

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I explored the idea of keeping it, must have been for about

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ten, 15 minutes, and then I was just like, "No, it's not the right

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"thing to do." And cos my mum, the type of mum my mum is,

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she's like, "This is what you're supposed to do," as in you

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find somebody you love, then you buy a house, then you make babies,

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do you know what I mean?

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So, like, for me, I was just like, this is everything against

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what my mum wants. I've got nowhere to live,

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I'm still in school, like.

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He's not even my boyfriend. She just wouldn't have had it.

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Well, I thought not anyway.

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I was on another planet at that age.

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I didn't get on with my family at all and I was finding myself

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in this sort of spiral of like doing really bad things, rebelling.

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I did think about keeping the baby, on some occasions,

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but the sort of sense of, "Oh, my God, like, what would happen?"

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was just so overbearing, like.

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I thought that my mum would kill me.

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I remember I was at my boyfriend's house and I was smoking

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some weed, and I'd fallen asleep.

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And she was ringing me, and it was two o'clock in the morning,

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and eventually I called her back and she was like,

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"Where are you?" She was going to kill me, etc, etc.

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She came to pick me up and then my sister

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was driving, and my mum took her shoe off and she was hitting me

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with it. My sister was like, "Don't do it now, do it when

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"we get home."

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We got home and my mum got a knife from the kitchen cupboard,

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and she was just like...

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The things that she was saying were about, like, you...

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What... SHE SIGHS

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It's hard to translate this directly into English, but it was

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sort of like, "What you're doing to my, like, respect,

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"like what you're doing to my standard in the community,

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"I won't have it, I won't have it."

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That was just me staying out somewhere till

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two o'clock in the morning.

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Imagine what it would have been like

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if I'd have come home and said I was pregnant?

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The second time I got pregnant, so Paul, my partner, was in the house

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with his two kids. So I just walked straight past him,

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went in the bathroom, shut the door and done the test,

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and I was like this, sat waiting.

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And then when it said positive, I was just sobbing on the toilet.

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So, by this point, he was like, "What's going on? Let me in

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"the bathroom." So he ended up picking the lock with a knife

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and come in. And I was just sobbing and he was just like...

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He thought I'd lost a job or something,

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so I picked the pregnancy test up

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and threw it at him and went, "I'm pregnant."

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So then he was like, "Why are you crying? That's good news."

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But I didn't think it was at the time.

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I was like, "How on Earth is that good news? I'm going to lose uni,

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"I'm going to lose my job, blah, blah, blah."

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It's just not the right time.

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And he was sobbing, saying, "Oh, please, please, please.

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"I want to you to keep it," and all that.

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And in my head, from that point, I was like,

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"I'm not having this baby, one bit."

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I'll be honest, I'm not very responsible.

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So I was sort of like taking the pill one day,

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then not taking it the other.

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I just assumed that however much I was taking, that would be enough

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to, like, you know, stop a baby from occurring.

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So then, right, I decided, OK, I'm going to go to the Brook.

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And I went with my boyfriend and when she said,

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"I'd like to inform you that you are pregnant," that moment, I just

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felt sick straightaway.

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I mean, all the questions of, like,

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my college, everything, my ambitions, my boyfriend.

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I also remember me being really dramatic, like,

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"My family is Muslim!" Like, "I'm having an abortion."

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I was just really angry, like, "Of course I can't keep it!"

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-Abortion's still illegal in Ireland.

-Is it?

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-Now?

-They have pure protests and pure, like, Irish people

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-and all that.

-So you can't...

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There's nowhere to get an abortion in Ireland?

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-Or Northern Ireland.

-Or Northern Ireland?

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No, but they have, like, people online over there who sell tablets

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what can trigger abortions and stuff like that. But these are the extents

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-what the girls over there have to go through.

-Oh, my God.

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I was pregnant when I was 16, with Ashley,

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and I kind of knew it was my decision to have her.

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And then March 2012, I got pregnant again and I decided that it

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was the wrong time and that's when I thought, like, I had to have

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the abortion. I just thought about Ashley, her dad wasn't about,

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so I thought I had to give her my 110% attention.

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So, she kind of made the decision a bit easier as well.

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And I couldn't... Like, mentally, I had depression and stuff.

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I just thought having this baby's not for me, not at this time.

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And then I told my mum straightaway because I knew I needed

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help to have the abortion.

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So, she was just kind of like,

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"It's your decision. It's your choice.

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"I'll support you either way."

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And...

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Well, for like us, we have to...

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I had to go to my doctor and I told him

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I wanted to have an abortion.

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And he was very much against it and said that he wouldn't advise me

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to do it and wouldn't put me in contact with anybody to do it, so...

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It didn't matter what anybody thought they knew.

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It didn't matter, cos we snuck around and hid the truth.

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It didn't matter, cos his heart was mine, and mine his, entwined.

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But after seeing two pink lines, I knew there were two hearts

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beating inside of me.

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Couldn't believe, cried so hard I couldn't breathe.

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This would be the end of my life, if they knew I had a baby.

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# I never knew I could feel this way

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# About someone, it's kind of crazy

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# But there's something about you

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# That's got me breaking the rules

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# Ooh

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# Breaking the rules

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# Aah

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# Aah, aah

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# Ooh, ooh. #

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So, they sent me off to have the scan and they put that stuff

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on your belly that feels like hand sanitizer, really cold!

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And then, at that point, the screen was facing me

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and I just remember feeling like, this is such a grown-up thing,

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I can't believe, like, I'm here doing such a grown-up thing.

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And the scan lady said, "Oh, are you keeping this baby?"

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And I said, "No." So she just turned the screen round.

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I then had to go to Manchester Pregnancy Advisory Service.

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No-one could accompany me to that, so I went on my own,

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and then I...

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I went into the room and it was my family GP.

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And I was just like, "I can't believe, like, my family GP

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"who's been my family GP since I was, like, a baby,

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"moonlights as an abortion doctor!"

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And he's also Bengali.

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And so then, it was just...

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Well, you know, of course he can't say anything, but as soon as

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they came out of the room, when it was done, I changed doctors

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really quickly!

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If people have got goals in life -

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so they're 16 years old, they're planning on doing A-levels,

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then uni - they, more often than not, choose termination.

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If they're 16 years old and they say, "Ah, he's very nice

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"and I might as well just have the baby. He's already got two

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"to somebody else, but..."

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If they haven't got any other life goal, then having a baby

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seems to be their goal, which is OK.

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What we've got to be is completely non-judgmental.

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So you might think, "Oh, God, here you are again.

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"Now, you're 19, you've had three terminations in the past,"

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it might be quite irritating to us.

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But we don't let that show.

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Cos the one thing that I always say to them is,

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"The decision you make today is right for you today.

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"It's nobody else's business.

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"So it might be different next year, it might be different

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"in five years' time, but today you're making the right decision."

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Our Paige said to me, "I'm going to go to the doctors and talk about

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"my options," is what she said to me.

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And I just said to her, "Paige, you've got no options

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"at the end of the day, because if you get rid of this baby,

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"then I just don't know if I could have ever spoke to her again,"

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because I just thought...

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I don't know, I just think it's selfish, to be honest.

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I just think it's really selfish.

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I think if you're going to get pregnant,

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you need to take on the responsibility.

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Why should we decide whether somebody lives or dies?

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Do you know what I mean?

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No, not "somebody", Sherry Ann.

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If it was somebody who'd already been born, we don't get to make

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the choice whether somebody lives or dies

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once they're already here. So what makes it any different

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when they're inside your stomach? Do you know what I mean?

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You was here telling me not to get rid of it, our Zoe was in here

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telling me not to get rid of it.

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My mum was saying, "I'm not saying nothin'."

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But, basically, subliminally telling me not to get rid of it,

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and I thought, "No, I need to just remove myself from what

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"all them people are saying," and this needs to be my decision.

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Your decision.

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So, if it turns out that I do want to get rid of this baby

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-and Sherry Ann hates me, I'm sure she'll come round in the end.

-Yeah.

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Cos what will I do if I have this baby and I cannot take care of her?

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That's when they told me that you could have the tablet.

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You have a tablet and then you miscarry.

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Or you could have the... I think it was called something like...

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Something like evacuation or something,

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I can't remember what it was called, but they suck it out.

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Vacuum something.

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Vacuumasperosis!

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I can't remember what it was called!

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It's just all words. When you're 16 years old, they don't mean anything.

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But I decided that I'd prefer to have that one and, unfortunately,

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I wasn't far enough along, it has to be after six weeks.

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And I just remember, like, it was really hard.

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I booked a doctor's appointment.

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So she done this thing and she was like,

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"Oh, my God, you're five months pregnant."

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So I was like, "Oh, my God, no!"

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So she was like, "Why are you crying?"

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And I was like, "Cos that means it's too late to get an abortion."

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So she was like, "We're going to have to send you for a scan

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"to see how exactly how far you're on."

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Cos you could get an abortion up to 18 to 20 weeks,

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but not in Liverpool, nowhere in Liverpool does it.

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So she was like, "Just before that point, you will still be able

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"to get it." But in my head, I was thinking, "I can't cos it's

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"a full blown baby then."

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So I was like, "Oh, God. I went to the appointment and our Shana

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came with me.

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And then they done the scan, but they don't let you see it

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when you're supposed to be at an abortion.

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They say, "We're not going to show you it, it's just to see how

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"far you are." So then the woman done it and our Shana was looking

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at the screen and as soon as she seen it, she was like,

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"Oh, my God!" So then I was like to the woman, "I want to see it,"

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and she was like, "I really don't think that's a good..."

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And I was like, "No, I want to see it."

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And then as soon as I seen it, I was just like,

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"Oh, my God, having an abortion, I can't."

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Well, we went home and discussed everything with my mum

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and she done all the googling, all the research, and spoke it over

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with me. It was hard, it was difficult.

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We told so many lies to get the money.

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It was unbelievable.

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And I had to get, like, a fast-track passport the day before

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and that was like £110 on top of 80 something for the flights

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and then £800 for the abortion.

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I definitely think there should be more fight

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for it to be legal over here.

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I just think that if it becomes legalised here,

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then I think more and more people will become more careless

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and then more and more people have abortions.

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I just feel like it's murdering someone.

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Like, I just don't understand how you could just kill something

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so precious that's living inside of you.

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And it's technically your fault, unless it was due to something

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with like, like rape or something like that.

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And if people don't have to live with consequences,

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then they're not going to change their actions.

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I'd just like to...

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I'll say that, everyone is entitled to their own opinion

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and everyone should have a choice, which is hence the pro-choice.

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I feel like if you're on the pro-choice end, you're saying yes

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to both. You are entitled to have a child if you want

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and you're entitled to abort the child if you want.

0:18:580:19:01

If you're on the pro-life end, you're just taking that choice away,

0:19:010:19:04

and I feel like a choice is a human right.

0:19:040:19:07

I also had to schedule it around my exams, because my college

0:19:100:19:15

is a Catholic college. So I could get away with saying that I had

0:19:150:19:18

an RE trip. So I told my mum I was going on an RE trip

0:19:180:19:23

and I needed to be at Piccadilly Bus Station for seven o'clock

0:19:230:19:27

in the morning in order to get to the clinic by half past eight,

0:19:270:19:30

so you could have that day without being kept overnight.

0:19:300:19:34

Because I'm not allowed to... Well, at that age,

0:19:340:19:36

I wasn't allowed to stay out overnight.

0:19:360:19:38

Hiding in the shadows.

0:19:460:19:48

You ask a friend.

0:19:500:19:51

She knows a friend who knows a friend of a friend.

0:19:540:19:57

And then late one night, it comes back to you.

0:20:020:20:06

An address.

0:20:090:20:10

Number 23 Rukuhia Street, Epworth.

0:20:120:20:17

And the price...

0:20:200:20:21

..100.

0:20:250:20:28

My partner, he was still kind of like a wee teenage boy.

0:20:380:20:41

He wasn't really supportive, he didn't really care.

0:20:410:20:45

He didn't worry about how I got there or where I was getting

0:20:450:20:48

the money to get it done.

0:20:480:20:50

When I was pregnant the first time, and obviously the lad I was seeing,

0:20:540:20:58

I'd been seeing him for years, but he was a bellend, you know

0:20:580:21:01

what I mean?

0:21:010:21:02

So I said straightaway, "Well, I'm getting an abortion anyway."

0:21:020:21:05

And he was like, "It's not just your baby, it's not just your choice

0:21:050:21:07

"to make." And I was like, "No, mate, but it's my body

0:21:070:21:10

"and you're not even committing to me now, so why am I going

0:21:100:21:13

"to have a baby for you to leave the both of us?"

0:21:130:21:15

My boyfriend was really supportive, actually.

0:21:170:21:21

I remember he said that if I wanted to keep the baby that he would

0:21:210:21:24

tell his mum and we would be able to sort it out,

0:21:240:21:28

but I just kind of saw that as an annoyance, really.

0:21:280:21:31

Just thinking, "Don't make me feel any emotion

0:21:310:21:34

"towards this thing."

0:21:340:21:36

But then, on reflection, obviously, that was a really kind thing

0:21:380:21:41

that he'd offered to do.

0:21:410:21:43

The night before, he was like out drinking or something.

0:21:430:21:46

And I sent him a message, like, "Are you being fucking serious, like?

0:21:460:21:49

"I'm going for an abortion in the morning, it's two o'clock

0:21:490:21:52

"and you're absolutely out getting drunk and doing whatever."

0:21:520:21:55

But say you're not you...

0:21:570:22:00

OK, I'm not me.

0:22:000:22:02

-Shut up. And a girl gets pregnant.

-Yes.

0:22:020:22:06

-And you...

-Wait, am I me or...?

0:22:060:22:09

-What?

-Am I not me?

-No, no, this other person.

-Yeah.

0:22:090:22:13

And you get this girl pregnant and she...

0:22:130:22:17

-You don't want her to get rid of the baby.

-Yes.

0:22:190:22:21

-And she wants to get rid of it.

-Yeah.

0:22:210:22:23

-Do you think that's fine?

-That's her choice.

0:22:230:22:26

-And do you think that's right?

-Well, yeah, because it's up to her,

0:22:260:22:30

she's going through it, do you know what I mean?

0:22:300:22:32

And if she really wants the abortion, I'd say,

0:22:320:22:34

"Listen, you know, my point of view, there's nothing more I can do."

0:22:340:22:37

Yeah, but it...

0:22:370:22:39

-It's sly, yeah.

-It's proper unfair.

0:22:400:22:43

-It's unfair, but that's...

-Like, I know it's her choice to do

0:22:440:22:47

whatever she wants to do with her body, but it's also his baby.

0:22:470:22:53

Yeah.

0:22:530:22:54

-That's when you'd have a conversation.

-I'm sure...

0:22:560:22:58

..a baby is more important than a body. But then I think, again,

0:23:000:23:06

after saying that, if I was in that situation and a lad really

0:23:060:23:12

wanted to keep the baby...

0:23:120:23:14

..I don't know what I could do, because I don't know if I could,

0:23:170:23:20

like, carry this baby in me for so long and then just let it go and not

0:23:200:23:26

do anything for this child.

0:23:260:23:28

But then, I don't want it killed.

0:23:310:23:34

-So what would you do?

-I'd say no!

0:23:340:23:36

-Cos the time's ticking.

-I'd probably kill myself!

0:23:360:23:38

-Then you're killing you and the baby.

-I know, I might as well

0:23:400:23:43

just kill the baby!

0:23:430:23:44

-No, I don't mean that.

-No.

0:23:460:23:48

The time I was pregnant with Paitlyn, well, Paul, my partner,

0:23:480:23:52

had put pure emotional pressure on me to have the baby.

0:23:520:23:55

So then, this time when I got caught pregnant again,

0:23:550:23:58

well, I knew straightaway what I needed to do.

0:23:580:24:00

I couldn't manage another baby.

0:24:000:24:02

I didn't want to tell Paul before I'd done it,

0:24:020:24:04

I didn't want him getting in my head and making me

0:24:040:24:06

do something that I didn't want to do.

0:24:060:24:08

The relationship already wasn't in a good place,

0:24:080:24:10

and he wouldn't do anything to help me with Paitlyn, wouldn't even

0:24:100:24:13

change a nappy.

0:24:130:24:15

Like, he was there, but not there, if you know what I mean?

0:24:150:24:17

So I just went and had the procedure and decided I'd tell him

0:24:170:24:20

when it's all over.

0:24:200:24:21

When I decided to specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology,

0:24:230:24:27

at that time, everyone did abortion.

0:24:270:24:31

And so, I just did abortions,

0:24:310:24:32

and I didn't really stop to think about whether it was good or bad or

0:24:320:24:37

how I felt about it.

0:24:370:24:38

But I suppose, over the years, I've become more of an advocate

0:24:400:24:45

for the need to provide abortion care.

0:24:450:24:48

So I think we need to recognise that a woman's lifetime chance

0:24:500:24:53

of having an abortion in the United Kingdom is one in three,

0:24:530:24:56

and so I find myself thinking that gynaecologists should

0:24:560:25:03

do abortions and that if you don't want to do abortions,

0:25:030:25:07

then perhaps you should think about taking another speciality,

0:25:070:25:12

so become a dermatologist or a chest physician,

0:25:120:25:15

or something like that.

0:25:150:25:16

I'm a Christian and I am a gynaecologist, but I personally

0:25:180:25:23

have chosen not to do abortions because I feel very strongly

0:25:230:25:27

that the pregnancy that is developing is a mini person

0:25:270:25:34

that is created in the image of God.

0:25:340:25:36

And whilst I don't judge other doctors for performing abortions,

0:25:360:25:40

and I know that most doctors don't like to do abortions,

0:25:400:25:43

but they choose to do them for people to have choices,

0:25:430:25:46

I don't feel that's something that I am able to do.

0:25:460:25:49

The problem becomes if you work in a hospital where two or three doctors

0:25:510:25:55

say, "No, I won't do abortions because it's against my religion,"

0:25:550:25:58

the burden then falls on a small number of others,

0:25:580:26:03

who then become fed up with being asked to do all the abortions

0:26:030:26:06

and then they eventually react by saying, "Well, I'm not going

0:26:060:26:10

"to do them any more either."

0:26:100:26:11

So, eventually, you end up with very few gynaecologists prepared

0:26:110:26:16

to do abortions.

0:26:160:26:18

-They're not humans yet, Sherry Ann.

-They are humans. They're not growing

0:26:180:26:21

into Martians, they're growing into babies.

0:26:210:26:24

But what I'm saying is they're not anything yet, they're cells,

0:26:240:26:27

-they're a mass of cells.

-So where should life start?

0:26:270:26:29

-So where should we have rights?

-Once you enter the world,

0:26:290:26:33

independently, breathing for yourself. Not an umbilical cord...

0:26:330:26:37

-So then that means that you should be able to have abortions...

-..connected to my stomach, babe.

0:26:370:26:41

..until full-term. So you should be able to have abortions

0:26:410:26:43

until you're full-term, then?

0:26:430:26:45

That's what you've just basically said,

0:26:450:26:47

you should be able to have an abortion until you're full-term.

0:26:470:26:50

-It shouldn't have rights until it's come out.

-No.

0:26:500:26:53

Obviously, there should be laws to how far you can do it,

0:26:530:26:56

because obviously it feels pain and whatever, whatever,

0:26:560:27:01

but if the cells have not got a brain, they cannot feel pain.

0:27:010:27:06

Sherry Ann, they can't feel nothin'!

0:27:060:27:09

You can't be for abortion if you're going to say,

0:27:090:27:12

"But when they can feel, it's wrong."

0:27:120:27:15

-Yeah.

-No. How's that make sense?

0:27:170:27:20

I don't agree with doing it while you can feel that it's a baby,

0:27:200:27:25

and you can get a scan and you can see it's got a head,

0:27:250:27:28

it's got arms, it's got legs, it's got a willy.

0:27:280:27:31

None of that. But if I was...

0:27:310:27:33

Well, babe, look at my 13-week scan, it's got a head, it's got a body,

0:27:330:27:37

it's got arms, it's got legs.

0:27:370:27:38

-I wouldn't get one then.

-But you would, because how far were you

0:27:400:27:43

when you got one?

0:27:430:27:45

Eight weeks.

0:27:450:27:46

Well, are you sure about that?

0:27:480:27:50

It's partly an emotional thing, because there is no doubt that

0:27:510:27:54

as the foetus grows, it becomes less like a ball of cells

0:27:540:27:59

and becomes a baby, becomes a recognisable object

0:27:590:28:04

which looks just like a baby.

0:28:040:28:06

And once you start to see foetal movements,

0:28:060:28:08

it feels more of a cruel procedure and, depending on how it's done,

0:28:080:28:15

it's also an unpleasant procedure.

0:28:150:28:18

So dilatation and evacuation, when you're pulling out bits of

0:28:180:28:21

foetuses is extremely unpleasant.

0:28:210:28:24

So people automatically, I think, react by saying,

0:28:240:28:28

"Well, I think I'll stop at 12 weeks."

0:28:280:28:30

As we know, abortion law allows us to abort to 24 weeks

0:28:300:28:35

and sometimes even later.

0:28:350:28:37

But I don't think there's a sudden cut-off that you can say that

0:28:370:28:40

this is... This is a foetus that

0:28:400:28:43

doesn't have rights, and then it suddenly becomes a foetus

0:28:430:28:46

that does have rights. And I guess my cut-off is at implantation,

0:28:460:28:51

because that's very clear to me that life has begun at that point.

0:28:510:28:54

But then I think you have to say, "Well, who are the women

0:28:560:29:01

"who are having abortions beyond 12 weeks?"

0:29:010:29:05

And, to me, those women are often less able to get their lives

0:29:050:29:11

into control, and particularly the very late terminations,

0:29:110:29:15

often the very young or the very old, in reproductive terms,

0:29:150:29:20

who have taken a long time to recognise that they are pregnant

0:29:200:29:23

or who have problems with mental health or something else.

0:29:230:29:26

So, to me, if you're going to do abortions, then I think you have to

0:29:270:29:33

say, "Well, why am I doing them?"

0:29:330:29:35

If it is to make life better for those who have

0:29:370:29:40

unintended pregnancies, then I don't see the logic

0:29:400:29:44

in having a time limit.

0:29:440:29:46

Saturday.

0:29:590:30:01

7:45am.

0:30:020:30:03

She wakes up, splashes cold water on her face and takes out

0:30:050:30:10

the piece of paper that's been burning a hole in her pocket

0:30:100:30:14

for the past three days.

0:30:140:30:16

So...

0:30:190:30:20

..she steps on the bus.

0:30:220:30:23

The 427 headed out of town.

0:30:250:30:27

Shades on, eyes ahead, shoulders back.

0:30:300:30:33

The eyes of the kid on the bus lock with hers.

0:30:360:30:39

An old woman smiles.

0:30:390:30:41

Disengage, headphones on, chin up, shoulders back.

0:30:410:30:46

And her hand slowly falls and rests subconsciously on her belly.

0:30:490:30:55

And I gently nod my head to the beat of the music.

0:30:550:30:57

And the beat goes on.

0:30:590:31:01

Bus brakes hard.

0:31:050:31:07

Her white and gold Adidas shoes step off the bus

0:31:070:31:11

into the heat and the dust of the midday sun.

0:31:110:31:14

The eyes of the street vendors burn a hole in her back.

0:31:150:31:18

Chin up.

0:31:200:31:21

She looks defiantly on the door...

0:31:230:31:25

..and waits for what seems to be forever and a day.

0:31:270:31:30

Until an old woman answers.

0:31:330:31:35

And says...

0:31:370:31:39

"Come this way."

0:31:390:31:42

The room is dark.

0:32:030:32:05

Like a womb.

0:32:070:32:08

Bed on the floor.

0:32:100:32:11

Shiny metal on the table.

0:32:120:32:14

Hips in the bowl.

0:32:160:32:18

She lies down and waits.

0:32:200:32:23

She closes her eyes and she waits.

0:32:240:32:27

And she waits.

0:32:290:32:30

And the beat goes on.

0:32:330:32:35

Beat, beat, beat, beat.

0:32:370:32:42

Tick, tick, tick.

0:32:420:32:46

I remember having, like, butterflies in my stomach

0:32:460:32:50

and just waking my mum up to talk to her about it.

0:32:500:32:54

And then I remember being on the plane and just thinking,

0:32:540:32:56

"I don't think I can do this."

0:32:560:32:58

And my mum says, "It's your choice, you know, we can just take

0:32:580:33:01

"the money and go shopping", cos she wanted to go shopping.

0:33:010:33:04

But on the plane then, I thought, "No, I'm doing it.

0:33:040:33:07

"I need to do it and I want to do it."

0:33:070:33:09

But right up until the door, she was like, "You know, it's your choice,

0:33:090:33:13

"it's your call."

0:33:130:33:14

Have you been to that abortion clinic on Aigburth?

0:33:140:33:17

Well, it's just like a big house.

0:33:170:33:19

It's literally on a street and it was just like a dead big house.

0:33:190:33:23

And then we landed in Liverpool and we got the taxi to the

0:33:230:33:28

Merseyside Clinic, and it was just like a house type thing.

0:33:280:33:32

So we went in, our Shana was with me, and we were in the waiting room

0:33:320:33:36

and it was just, like, loads of people in there.

0:33:360:33:39

I remember seeing an old Indian woman who was just smiling,

0:33:390:33:42

like the whole time.

0:33:420:33:45

Just... It's weird also to see another Asian person

0:33:450:33:48

having an abortion.

0:33:480:33:50

There was a girl in there that I'd went to

0:33:500:33:51

school with and she was with her mum, but I don't know whether

0:33:510:33:54

she was getting the abortion or her mum, because they both looked

0:33:540:33:57

dead sad. But I just said hi to her and just sat down.

0:33:570:34:01

I was like, "This is just not what I was expecting."

0:34:010:34:04

Like, they had piles of magazines, little thingy water machines

0:34:040:34:08

and tellies all round the room, and Jeremy Kyle was on.

0:34:080:34:11

And everyone was just like getting on with what they were doing.

0:34:110:34:14

They brought me into the room and... Of course, me and my mum,

0:34:250:34:28

whenever she comes to hospital appointments, she doesn't leave.

0:34:280:34:31

So she thought that she came with me, but they put her out and

0:34:310:34:34

spoke to me. They asked if I did the scan and they asked

0:34:340:34:38

if I wanted to have a picture of the scan.

0:34:380:34:41

I was like, "No, I don't even want to look at it, just do whatever

0:34:410:34:43

"you have to do." And until the very point, you know, you're like

0:34:430:34:47

taking your clothes off and getting changed, you're sort of still

0:34:470:34:51

thinking, like you have that in the back of your head, like,

0:34:510:34:53

"Is this right?"

0:34:530:34:55

And then I went upstairs and got undressed into, like, a nightie,

0:34:550:34:59

lay on the bed and they put like a cream on your hand and that was it.

0:34:590:35:04

I woke up and I was like, "Is that it?"

0:35:040:35:06

And they were like, "Yeah, that's it, it's done."

0:35:060:35:08

And I was like, "Where's my mum?"

0:35:080:35:10

And my mum came up and she just gave me a hug and that was it.

0:35:100:35:14

My friend actually has a picture of hers, so she does.

0:35:190:35:23

She just keeps it. I don't know what she does with it.

0:35:230:35:26

She looks at it like, but, yeah, she has.

0:35:260:35:30

I was just like, I don't even want... Just turn the screen,

0:35:300:35:33

and they did, so...

0:35:330:35:34

You go on the Saturday, you take the tablet,

0:35:350:35:38

go home and then you come back on the Sunday

0:35:380:35:41

and take two more tablets,

0:35:410:35:43

and that breaks the pregnancy away from your womb and your...

0:35:430:35:48

Like, it comes out, which was a bit horrible.

0:35:480:35:50

But it wasn't anything, it was literally, like, a blood clot,

0:35:500:35:56

like the size of a conker, if that, do you know what I mean?

0:35:560:35:59

You had like...

0:35:590:36:00

You were in a room and you had, like, a back room attached

0:36:020:36:04

to the side and they give you this like...

0:36:040:36:09

What are they called? You know those green trays what they give

0:36:100:36:13

the old women to wee in and stuff in the ozzy?

0:36:130:36:17

One of them. And every time you go for a wee, unless you were going

0:36:170:36:20

to have a poo, you wouldn't use it. But if you were going for a wee,

0:36:200:36:23

you had to put that in like the hole of the toilet and wee in that

0:36:230:36:27

because they need to check it so they know when the baby had

0:36:270:36:33

come out, when the foetus had come out.

0:36:330:36:35

So they give you like loads of sheets of brown paper

0:36:350:36:38

and they say to you, "Don't ever look in the tray.

0:36:380:36:40

"Just put the paper over and pull the..."

0:36:400:36:43

You had like a little red lever, pull that,

0:36:430:36:45

and every time you wee, they come and took the tray away.

0:36:450:36:48

And then, eventually, they come in and go, "You've just passed it."

0:36:480:36:50

After the abortion, I got picked up by my boyfriend's cousin

0:37:100:37:15

and I really wanted a koobideh kebab from Rusholme chippy.

0:37:150:37:19

So we got me a koobideh kebab

0:37:190:37:21

and then we went to watch Pirates of the Caribbean in the cinema,

0:37:210:37:23

and I fell asleep.

0:37:230:37:26

When I went home, I was in agony, because after that,

0:37:260:37:29

you have a dead, dead heavy period.

0:37:290:37:31

But I was just thinking...

0:37:310:37:33

SHE SIGHS

0:37:330:37:34

But then I was thinking, "I can't even feel sorry for myself."

0:37:340:37:37

I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

0:37:370:37:40

So I was like, "I can move on from here."

0:37:400:37:43

But it wasn't my fault, I was on contraception,

0:37:430:37:47

and I was only young and, you know, you don't read the leaflet

0:37:470:37:50

and what comes with your pill and all the rest of it,

0:37:500:37:52

and there was loads of things on the list

0:37:520:37:54

what cancelled your pill out.

0:37:540:37:56

And I'd definitely been taking it religiously.

0:37:560:37:59

But maybe I'm just on antibiotics, or whatever the thing was,

0:37:590:38:03

so I was just like, "It wasn't really my fault, I did think

0:38:030:38:06

"I was covered." So...

0:38:060:38:08

I don't know how I kind of stopped crying, but, yeah, I did.

0:38:080:38:14

And then as it went on, I kind of felt a wee bit gutted...

0:38:150:38:19

..or guilty.

0:38:190:38:20

I was having dreams and stuff and seeing the actual child,

0:38:200:38:24

and I can still the child today, actually,

0:38:240:38:26

the image of this child that I was going to have.

0:38:260:38:29

But then, looking at my life now, I know it was the right thing

0:38:290:38:33

-that I did.

-I am religious.

0:38:330:38:36

I'll always say that I don't think that I made the wrong decision,

0:38:360:38:41

like from a Muslim perspective, because why would my god

0:38:410:38:47

want me to suffer? Why would my god want my unborn child to suffer?

0:38:470:38:52

It's not... You know, it's not what anyone wants.

0:38:520:38:56

I 100% made the right decisions about the abortions,

0:38:560:38:59

but with Paitlyn, this sounds terrible,

0:38:590:39:02

but sometimes I look at her and I love her to bits,

0:39:020:39:05

but I do always ponder where I might be

0:39:050:39:07

if I had not gone through with that pregnancy either.

0:39:070:39:10

Not that I'm...

0:39:100:39:12

Well, not that my life's not good now and I wouldn't change it,

0:39:120:39:15

but, you know, it is hard.

0:39:150:39:18

Especially now I'm a single parent and I've lost my house

0:39:180:39:21

and everything. Well, yeah, I do think about it, about that

0:39:210:39:24

decision, all the time.

0:39:240:39:26

Oh, my God, my friend, Terrence, has just told me what happened

0:39:390:39:41

to his cousin in Africa.

0:39:410:39:43

So, the girl had been seeing this guy for a while,

0:39:430:39:45

but it had all been a secret, so they didn't even know

0:39:450:39:48

she had a partner, let alone was sexually active.

0:39:480:39:52

So then she'd got caught pregnant and the abortion what she got,

0:39:520:39:56

it wasn't in like a...

0:39:560:39:58

It wasn't even in a clinic, it was like literally like a room

0:39:580:40:03

and the woman done it like old school, like the way on...

0:40:030:40:06

What's that movie of the woman...?

0:40:060:40:08

Like, Vera Drake, it was like that.

0:40:080:40:11

And she'd gone back to the woman twice, because the first time

0:40:110:40:15

she'd done it and when the girl went home, still no bleeding

0:40:150:40:19

or nothing. Done a pregnancy test and she was still pregnant.

0:40:190:40:22

And then woman had said to her, "No, that can happen.

0:40:320:40:35

"It can still come up that you're pregnant, but you won't be.

0:40:350:40:37

"But I'll do it again if you're not sure, but you'll have to pay again,

0:40:370:40:42

"cos my time's not free."

0:40:420:40:44

So she's paid again, got it again,

0:40:440:40:47

and then went home and she was bleeding then.

0:40:470:40:49

And she was just like, "It's just my period," and whatever,

0:40:490:40:52

and then she was haemorrhaging.

0:40:520:40:54

So then her mum and dad were a bit like, "Well, what's going on

0:40:540:40:56

"with you?" And she come clean to them.

0:40:560:40:59

Now, the dad has like kicked off, but obviously the mum was like,

0:40:590:41:03

"Her safety's paramount at this minute,

0:41:030:41:05

"we'll deal with what she's done when we get back."

0:41:050:41:08

And they've took her to the hospital, but she died.

0:41:080:41:11

She had septicaemia.

0:41:110:41:13

She was only 21.

0:41:130:41:14

But they're really, really, really, really, really, really old-school,

0:41:240:41:28

like, traditional, and they buried her the next day in a wooden box,

0:41:280:41:32

didn't even have a proper ceremony or whatever.

0:41:320:41:35

Because obviously they can't say she's died because she's had

0:41:350:41:39

a backstreet abortion. So, from that, everything's had to

0:41:390:41:42

stay hidden.

0:41:420:41:44

It's just the shame, Terrence calls it.

0:41:440:41:47

But I wouldn't call it shame.

0:41:470:41:49

LEAH: Do you know what? I would love to get involved in something

0:42:270:42:30

to get help for women over here.

0:42:300:42:31

-PAIGE:

-I just feel liberated and I can't believe how many people

0:42:340:42:39

want to hear these stories.

0:42:390:42:41

-TANAYA:

-I really want to tell my nieces and nephews,

0:42:430:42:47

because if they ever got into that situation, they would have someone.

0:42:470:42:52

You know, so that they don't feel alone.

0:42:520:42:54

Introduced by Julie Hesmondhalgh, this performance is a warm and honest drama exploring issues around abortion for young women today. Told through the voices of four young women, the production interweaves real interview material, song and spoken word to portray true stories and experiences.

The programme deals with challenging themes but filmed on the 50th anniversary of the legalisation of abortion in Britain, writer Julia Samuels explores the way in which society treats this subject and how this impacts on women today, and importantly asks what would happen if we started to talk openly about it?

This TV production for Performance Live uses the theatre technique of recorded delivery, where the actors listen to the real recorded interviews through earphones and repeat the words as they hear them, bringing the audience as close to the truth behind the words as possible. Featuring interviews from Great Britain, Northern Ireland and beyond, we meet health professionals, women, men and young people on all sides of the debate.

Julia Samuels, writer and producer, says 'The experience of having an abortion is such a taboo in society, and many women feel that they have to keep it a secret. We are pleased to be able to share these stories far and wide, and help combat the stigma around something that happens to one in three British women in their lifetimes.'.


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