Fintan O’Toole: How I discovered what I felt about abortion

Fintan O'Toole: How I discovered what I felt about abortion
I was 18 when asked to help a girl get an abortion. I knew it was not about me, it was about her

April 23, 2018
Fintan O'Toole

When I was 18, I knew nothing about anything and even less about abortion. I had never really thought about it. I suppose I had a vague feeling that it was a bad thing, to be contemplated only in extreme circumstances. And then in summer 1976 I had to discover what I felt about abortion. It took me all of 30 seconds.

Very few people in my part of the world went to university. I was a student in UCD. This lent me an aura of sophistication and knowingness that was laughably distant from the truth. But because of it, a male friend my own age called in and asked me to go with him to his house. His mother and father were in the sitting room with his sister who was, I think, 16. She was pregnant and she had made up her mind that she did not want to have the baby. Did I know how to go about arranging to have an abortion in England?