One of my best friends in Secondary school was a nun, and she told me that women who had abortions were condemned in hell to sit by a pool of blood, and had to drink from that pool continiously. I must have been 14 or so when she told me that story and yet the visual imagery of women sitting by a pool of blood, drinking blood into infinity is an image that has stuck with me my whole life.
During those same years at Secondary school a girl I knew fell pregnant. She and her boyfriend were making out and without prior warning he thrust his penis into her and ejaculated. I was freaked out when she told me she was pregnant. And even more freaked out when she told me she wanted to have an abortion. All I could think about were the women sitting by the pool drinking blood. Would I have to join them in drinking blood if I agreed that my friend should have an abortion? Don’t have an abortion, I said. Tell your Mum. My Mum would kill me, she responded. We never spoke about the pregnancy again. One day she went home on an exeat, and when she returned, she told me she had had the abortion.
There was another girl in my school who fell pregnant. She didn’t have an abortion. She left school for a couple of months, delivered the baby and resumed. EVERYBODY knew she had fallen pregnant and had a baby. EVERYBODY gossiped about her. Did you hear that she fell pregnant? Did you hear that she had a baby? Eventually the gossiping became too much for her, and she left school again. This time permanently. I wonder what happened to her? I wonder if she was able to resume her education? I wonder if she had any support in caring for her baby?
The first girl I spoke about continued her education without a break. Virtually no one knew she had been pregnant. Today she’s happily married with a family of her own and a great career. I’m still wondering how the other girl’s life turned out? I hope somehow she was able to continue her education. I hope somehow she got the support she needed to raise her child.
But you know what I really wish? I wish no one had to make this kind of choice. I wish children would be educated at an early age about sex. I wish people of all ages would have access to comprehensive family planning. I wish contraceptives were free. I wish no one had to make the difficult choice to terminate a pregnancy. But you know what they say about wishes don’t you?
There are a couple of cold hard facts I’ve had to recognize, as I’ve grown older. No woman chooses to have an abortion for the fun of it. Women have to weigh up the circumstances in which they find themselves, and sometimes the difficult choice that they have to make is that they need to terminate a pregnancy. I don’t think its down to you or I to cast judgement on that woman. That choice should be hers to make, and the right of a woman to choose should be sacrosanct.
 In my opinion the right age to start sex education is as soon as the child starts to ask you questions related to sexuality such as “where do babies come from?”