Don't forget, it was my baby too: I felt betrayed; in one day all my tomorrows had been taken away

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Alfie, 49, is a minicab driver. His former girlfriend had an abortion 12 years ago.

WHEN Amy announced she was pregnant, I thought, wow, I like the idea. We had been going out for six months and were madly in love. Although the pregnancy was unplanned, it felt like it was meant to be, like the baby endorsed our bond. At first Amy was pleased, but later she suggested an abortion. As a Buddhist, my reaction was that you must not have abortions, that it's not our right to interfere with who lives and who dies.

She was 33 and there seemed no strong grounds for it. But people said: 'Oh, it's a woman's right to have an abortion.' I thought, it's not that easy, you can't be that irresponsible.

I was doing community work and claiming dole, but Amy needed security, so I found a job selling life insurance. It was a sell-out, but we needed money for the baby. One day, in the third month of the pregnancy, I came home and Amy said: 'You won't have to worry about the baby any more.' I thought she'd had

a miscarriage. She looked white, really


She said: 'I went to a clinic and had an abortion.' I said: 'How could you do that?', and she said: 'When I went to the bathroom this morning, you'd taken your shaving stuff and I didn't think you were coming back.'

She had seen one of those adverts which said: 'Pregnant? Worried? Call . . .' She had gone in, paid pounds 260 and had the abortion there and then. First, I was angry with the clinic - there was no counselling, nothing. It may have been that she was having a bad day and that the next day she'd be fine. I was filled with revenge - I wanted to attack them, blow the place up.

I phoned a friend and said: 'Amy's had an abortion, I don't know what to do, I can't even speak to her.' He met me in the pub and I was all weepy and got very drunk. When I came home, one of Amy's feminist friends was there and she was aggressive to me, saying things like: 'How could you do this to this poor girl?' Something immovable had come between us. That night, I moved out and we never spoke again.

The abortion took away all my tomorrows. I felt helpless, betrayed. I didn't speak to anyone about it because it didn't seem there was anything to talk about. When women go through an emotional upset, they cry together and that somehow gets it out. But men say things like: 'If you need anything, let me know.' There's no 'sorry to hear about your abortion' card, no set way of dealing with it. I started avoiding people and until I met my current girlfriend, Maggie, my relationships were totally unemotional. For seven years I numbed myself. Although Maggie and I had a baby last year, I still live with a tight knot in my stomach. I've never grieved you see.

I keep asking Maggie: 'Do you feel all right, do you feel secure?' I have a constant fear that I'll come home one day and she'll have misconstrued something I've said and be gone.

The names of Alfie's girlfriends have been changed.

(Photograph omitted)