Heidi Allen: Why I told of my abortion
South Cambridgeshire MP explains why she gave emotional Commons speech
South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen told the Cambridge Independent why she bravely revealed during an emotion-charged debate in the House of Commons how illness forced her to undergo an abortion.
Ms Allen told fellow MPs during an emergency debate on abortion rights in Northern Ireland on Tuesday that she decided to terminate her pregnancy after suffering daily seizures, which left her unable to control her body.
Her emotional speech in support of abortion reform in Northern Ireland was warmly received by the majority across the benches.
Ms Allen told the Cambridge Independent that she had always planned to share such a private moment but described doing so as “horrible and awful”.
Ms Allen said: “I had intended to say it because I had a feeling nobody else would.
“I thought it probably needed saying.
“I suppose it is very easy to make issues like that just about procedure and legislation and words and policy but, actually, it is about people’s lives.
“It was awful and horrible. You don’t come here to Parliament to be a robot, you come here for politicians to be that link with people – well I think so anyway.
“We are not what they call ‘snouts in the trough’ politicians who are just here to make money and wield power, we are here to represent ordinary people and what ordinary people go through.
“I think the best way of doing that is by living like everybody else and showing that you’ve been through the same things as other people and that you are not some aloof kind of separate species.
“Politicians don’t really have a terribly good reputation, it seems.”
In Parliament, fighting back the tears as she spoke, the Conservative MP said: “This is a hard and emotive topic.
“I am a modern, progressive woman and I am proud that this country is my home.
“As a woman who believes passionately in equality in choice, I have been there and I’m making it my business.
“I was ill when I made the incredibly hard decision to have a termination.
“I was having seizures every day. I wasn’t even able to control my own body, let alone care for a new life.
“The Irish referendum result spoke volumes about how people in southern Ireland felt. They wanted change and they voted for it decisively.”
And in a clear message to the women of Northern Ireland, Ms Allen said she would be standing alongside them.
She added: “How can it be that Northern Ireland will soon be the only part of Great Britain and Ireland where terminations are to all intents and purposes outlawed?
“Very suddenly and unexpectedly, we have a window of opportunity before us. This is their moment and they will have my unequivocal support.”
Ireland voted overwhelmingly to legalise abortion in a landslide referendum victory for women’s rights. The result saw 66.4 per cent in favour of overturning the ban on abortions.
Labour MP Stella Creasy is leading calls for a change in the law in Northern Ireland.