"It was like jumping off a cliff": Anne Robinson speaks out on her abortion experience
TV presenter Anne Robinson, infamous for hosting tea time BBC favourite the Weakest Leak has spoken out on the damaging effect an abortion had on her. Robinson talked publicly about the abortion for the first time in a BBC Two documentary, Abortion On Trial, being shown to mark 50 years since the 1967 Abortion Act. She said making the same choice now would be "absolutely unthinkable".
In the documentary, filmed at her home in Gloucestershire, the journalist tells the group of eight women and one man - who all have varying experiences of abortion - that she had an abortion in 1968 when she was “very unhappy” and newly married to the journalist Charles Wilson.
Opening up about the abortion which took place one year after they were partially legalised in England, the Mrs Robinson talked openly about the pain and trauma which followed the decision. "What I remember is unexpectedly the most terrible black doom came over me and it lasted for months. And again I didn’t talk about it because I was ashamed of what I’d done. And how could I explain that I felt so depressed?" she says in the documentary.
Ms Robinson revealed that she focused on suppressing the pain following the abortion. "This all has been there for 50 years and we are still hesitant and ashamed," Robinson said, questioning why abortion is not more openly talked about. The high profile presenter who later had one child, said that "keeping quiet" about her own experience was "out of the question" when she had asked people to talk about theirs.
Anne Robinson and countless other women have suffered unthinkably after undergoing abortions. The stories of these women are illustrating with immense clarity that we need to do so much more to protect both mother and baby. Women deserve so much better than abortion providers which will happily take their money and then leave them to struggle with grief, regret and pain for years and years to come. Of course, it’s never too late to get help. Clare Bremner, a qualified Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, and counsellor for the Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline, says that experiencing negative emotions, even decades after an abortion, is far from uncommon.
"We often hear from women 20, 30 or 40 years after an abortion - still in pain, still grieving and regretting. I hope Anne Robinson's honesty will help other women open up after decades of silence, as it's never too late to seek support and understanding. It also highlights the need, still present today, to help women in crisis pregnancies keep their eyes open so they can find the support and information they need to calm their fears and step back from that cliff."
"It was like jumping off a cliff" Ms Robinson said.
"I was terrified, confused and very, very lonely because I didn’t think I could talk to anyone,” she added.
Speaking of the fear that so many women feel when facing an unexpected pregnancy, she said: "The only way I felt I could go through with an abortion was if I didn’t think about what I was doing. It was like someone who was shutting her eyes and jumping off a cliff – not intelligent at all. But fear makes you behave in a very odd way." Anne Robinson’s story proves exactly why the answer is always to eliminate the crisis, never the child.
Ms Robinson also spoke about how she felt after the abortion. "And what I remember is unexpectedly the most terrible black doom came over me and it lasted for months. And again I didn’t talk about it because I was ashamed of what I’d done. And how could I explain that I felt so depressed?"
Suppressing the pain became a major life-long focus for her, and nearly 50 years later, the impact of that decision is still tangible.
"The truth is I’ve tried very hard not to think about it. And I can see that a lot of that is inherent shame in me. After all these years – it’s nearly 50 years ago. So it runs very deep." Ms Robinson went on to have a daughter, Emma, in 1971, who herself has two children. "What astonishes me is this talking about it – because I hadn’t done that. Why is it that we talk about everything else? This act has been there for 50 years and we’re still hesitant and ashamed. I was worried what my daughter would think."
Although Anne Robinson said she hasn't "allowed herself to regret" the abortion, she says she would never make the same decision. "It’s one thing at the age I was then, and shutting my eyes, but I’m 73, I’ve had Emma and I’ve got two wonderful grandchildren. And of course your attitude is totally, totally different. It would be unthinkable for me now – absolutely unthinkable."