By Bunmi Sofola
IT would be easy to assume that it is young irresponsible girls who are most likely to opt for abortion, but it is, in fact, middle-aged women who are pushing up the abortion rate. Emilia was a divorced mother of three and just turned 40, when she met Chuka, a widower at a business convention.
She fell in love and got married. “After Chuka, who was five years younger than I am, and I had spent close to two years trying to conceive naturally, I was prescribed Clomid by my gynaecologist to stimulate egg production. Chuka had only one child and would want just one more. Eventually, I got pregnant and gave birth to a girl.
“I had my older three children with my first husband in my early 20s and conceived without any difficulties. When I failed to conceive in my early 40s, my doctor said that was because I wasn’t ovulating regularly, a fact I put down to my advancing age. After our daughter was born, we both got on with our career and with four children to feed and clothe, money was tight but we were contented. However, with four children, I was very careful about getting pregnant but Chuka took things further by using condom.
“A couple of years later, my doctor more or less gave me the freedom to do what I pleased with sex. She said I was too old for the coil and at my age, and with the problem I had conceiving our last child, the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy was almost zero. Then came that fateful afternoon when I arrived home before the children were back from school.
Chuka, who was working from home, and I took advantage of having an empty house and went to bed. We were really pleased to have this free moment together that I just couldn’t bring myself to ruin the moment by insisting he riffle through a drawer for a condom. How could I ever imagine I would live to regret that slip? I didn’t even think of a morning – after pill.
“When I realised my period was late just three weeks later, I convinced myself there was no need to panic after having unprotected sex just once at 45. But I bought a pregnancy test kit just to be sure and nearly fainted when I saw the positive sign. My previous pregnancies had all been very much wanted. All the kids were doing well, what would I be doing with a new baby at 45!?
Chuka was as shocked as I was but said he would support me in any decision I made. I knew deep down that I couldn’t cope, but at the same time, I had always been really anti-abortion, believing that life is precious, so the prospect of ending a pregnancy was extremely painful. Two days after discovering my late-life pregnancy, I came to the painful conclusion that a termination was my only option.
“At the reputable hospital I went to, I was given a mild general anaesthetic and the abortion went ahead. I was very fearful and sad after. I felt really angry too. When I wanted to conceive, my body wouldn’t let me, and when having another child was the least thing I needed, I’d gotten pregnant…”
Medical experts and abortion providers have constantly warned fertility experts that women are ‘leaving it too late’ to get pregnant, convincing older women that their chances of falling pregnant are slim, when in fact, they could still be relatively high. As a consequence, older women often fail to take basic precautions when making love. Recent research has found that more than 40 per cent of women in their 40s who were having abortions hadn’t used contraception, compared to 36 per cent in their early 30s and 34 per cent in their 20s.
But the fact is that it’s still very possible to conceive over the age of 40. A recent survey, for example, found women over 40 had the same chance or conceiving within six months as younger women. The poll revealed that a quarter of forty-somethings became pregnant in the first six months, a further fifth conceived after three months and by six months, more than half were carrying a child,.
Emilia’s devastating experience highlights the heartache that can ensue if you underestimate your fertility as you get older. Some doctors believe women may even have a burst of fertility as they approach the menopause due to the body naturally stimulating the ovaries more aggressively to keep them working as the number of eggs decline.
According to Dr. Geeta Nagund, medical director at the Create Fertility Clinic in London, “While in general, women’s chances of conceiving fall sharply in their 40s, they should continue to take precaution if they want to prevent pregnancy. Women with a healthy lifestyle, good fertility history in the family, optional body weight and good general health can have better fertility for their age compared to those with a poor lifestyle and a family history of early menopause. I have known women aged 47 conceive using their own eggs, so if you want to avoid getting pregnant, it’s important to use effective contraception until after the menopause.
“Before contraception was invented, many women went on having babies well into their 40s, and even sometimes their 50s, and we have to remember that, despite all the scaremongering from doctors, women are still capable of it.
“No one should underestimate how devastating it is to find yourself pregnant in mid-life, feeling abortion is your only option.”
For the love of country (humour)
Three men reach the final round of tests to join the Army, and are called together to speak with the interviewer. “Do you love your wife?” says the officer. “Sir, yes I do, sir,” say the three recruits in unison.
“And do you love your country?” “Sir, yes sir,” say the men. “But what do you love more, your wife or your country?” The recruits do not hesitate.
“Sir, my country, sir.” The interviewer stares at them: “We want you to prove this. Your wives are sitting in separate rooms nearby – take this gun and go and kill your loved one.”
The first man gulps and stares at the gun for a few minutes. “I can’t do it,” he says and leaves. Visibly shaken, the second man goes into the room and all is silent for about five minutes. Soon the door opens, and the man, sweating with his tie loosened, puts down the unfired gun and leaves. The final interviewee looks long and hard at the revolver, then slowly paces into the adjoining room. After a brief silence, the interviewer hears the sound of a gunshot. There’s a brief pause, then an almighty crashing sound and woman’s scream. Grinning and breathless, the final recruit emerges from the room and puts the gun on the table. The interviewer looks up at him and says “What the hell happened?” “The gun you gave me was filled with blanks,” says the man, breathing heavily.
“So I had to beat her to death with the chair.”