By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The story of an 18 year old British girl who admits to having had four abortions by the age of 16 is a testimony to the negative impact of divorce on children, the failure of “safe sex” education and the destructive role lax parenting plays in the lives of children.
Lucy Lanelly remembers little from the first abortion she had at the age of 12. Speaking to London’s Mail Online, she said she “blanked out” most of the memories of the first procedure, remembering only a strange emotional numbness and feelings of guilt at having upset her mother.
“I didn’t understand what was going on,” she said. “’My mum organised the termination and I went along with it, but it was the right thing to do. There was no question of keeping the baby. I didn’t want it. I was too young to have a baby. It was a mistake.”
During the course of the next four years, she would have three more “mistakes,” and “correct” them all the same way – with abortion.
She blames no one but herself, although her family situation was far from ideal.
Her parents broke up shortly after she was born. Her faither was a 41 year old railway worker and her mother an ambitious 21 year old who went off to school after the divorce to become a nurse her birth, leaving Lucy to be raised by her grandmother until she was 11 years old.
With her mother away at school, Lucy saw her parents – who remained friends – only on weekends when they spoiled her with presents and days out and bought her ponies to ride.
“When I was a child, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t live with them,” she said.
“Dad would come to see me one weekend with presents and take me to a farm, and then my Mum would come and try to go one better than Dad with her treats. I was very spoiled.”
At age 11, she went to live with her mother.
“She was very busy working in a high-pressured job and wouldn’t be home before 6pm or 7pm,” she said about the mother who would die only a few years later of a gastrointestinal hemorrage. “She was very easy going, too easy going.”
Within a year, Lucy had her first sexual encounter with a 15 year old boy and became pregnant. It was her mother who took her to the abortion clinic.
“I knew I didn’t want a baby, so I was happy for her to arrange the termination,” she said.
Not long afterward, her mother remarried and became pregnant with Lucy’s younger sister. Lucy felt jealous and excluded and fought often with her mother and step-father.
She was 13 when she became pregnant by a 19 year old man at a party where she had become so drunk she didn’t know what was happening to her. Once again, her mother arranged a “termination.”
Lucy remembers feeling nothing for the child, only guilt for letting her mother down again. “I was 14 weeks’ gone, but we both wanted it finished with so we could get back to normal.”
It wasn’t as if Lucy did not have access to information about sex and how to behave. She had all of the usual sex ed classes, but feels she was too young to understand how to apply it to her life.
“You are given all the information, but you don’t know what to do with it,” she said. “I thought I was grown-up and knowledgeable, but I knew nothing. I was incredibly naive.”
For the next two years, Lucy avoided boys, changed her friends and abstained from all sexual activity. However, her problems were far from over.
After giving birth to her second daughter, Lucy’s mother plunged into post-natal depression and started drinking heavily. This led to the loss of her job and the break-up of her marriage. No matter how hard she tried to stop drinking, she always went back to it.
“She used to apologise to me all the time, saying what a bad mother she was, and tried to commit suicide twice,” Lucy recalled.
Because of her mother’s fragile mental state, when she became pregnant again at the age of 15, she solicited her grandmother’s help in getting an abortion and keeping it a secret from her mother.
Only a year later, at the age of 16, she became pregnant once again, this time by a 20 year old gardener with whom she is now living and engaged to marry. They both decided they weren’t ready to become parents and Lucy underwent her fourth abortion.
“This is the only abortion I felt bad about,” she said. “It was because I was older and more aware of what I was doing. I felt guilty to have had so many abortions so young, and guilty that I was able to get pregnant so easily with babies I didn’t want while other women struggle for years to have a baby. I feel it was the right thing to do, but sometimes I feel selfish.”
Obviously, the first pregnancy was a mistake, but what about the other three, she asks herself. “When it happens four times before you are 16, you have to wonder what’s going on,” she says.
She admits that she received all the usual information about contraception and “safe sex” but believes she was just too young to know how to handle it. “You are given all the information, but you don’t know what to do with it. I thought I was grown-up and knowledgeable, but I knew nothing. I was incredibly naive.”
Lucy insists she does not regret her abortions and is not worried about the damage the repeated abortions might have done to her body, or to her future fertility.
“I don’t regret having the terminations because I was too young to have a baby,” she said, “but I do regret having sex when I wasn’t mature enough to deal with it.”
She is now raising her six year-old sister and wants her to have a better life.
“My sister often cries, but I’m determined to give her some happy childhood memories,” she said.
“’I’ve blanked out my abortions and I have too much self-respect to go through all that again. I just wish other young girls would respect their bodies enough not to give them up to anybody.”
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