Dear Steph – My friend had a secret abortion.

Dear Steph

My husband and I have been friends with another couple for over ten years, the female being a friend of mine from uni, which is where we both met our now husbands. We’ve been an inseparable foursome ever since and holiday together most years. My female pal told me recently she’d found out she was pregnant just after getting a promotion at work, she then went on to say she’d had an abortion while her husband was working away. I’m not against abortion, and am very much pro choice, but I find this so difficult being friends with them both! She also asked me not to tell my husband. I’ve tried to persuade her to talk to her husband but she won’t, and says he wouldn’t understand her reasons. I’m not sure I do either (understand her reasons) They are both thirty this year and have openly expressed their want for children in the past, but my friend says she just wasn’t ready this time. I feel really torn and have been avoiding her husband ever since. My own husband is even getting suspicious about why I don’t want to spend time with them. Keeping this to myself is eating me up, I don’t know what to do.

Gemma 29 Aldershot

Dear Gemma,

I don’t think you’re going to like what I have to say. In fact, I’m not sure many readers will. However, I’m going to give you my honest opinion, anyway. Before I do there are a few things to consider first. I understand you feel a sense of loyalty to both parties in the relationship and not just your female friend, in these circumstances though, I’m going to advise to refrain from making this about you. Your friend made a decision and for whatever reason, she believes that was the right decision for her. Do I think she should have told her husband? Maybe… but is it any of my business? No. Do I also believe women have the absolute and unconditional right to body autonomy? Yes. Therefore I would be a hypocrite if suggested that it was imperative she tell her husband about the pregnancy. Secondly, it’s done now and it’s highly likely that your friend is already feeling a mixed bag of emotion which possibly but not necessarily, includes guilt. Third and finally, it is absolutely none of your husband’s business. Telling your husband will only make him feel awkward and guilty for not telling his friend. I’m sorry if this sound’s harsh but I feel given what’s going on in the world in terms of abortion right now, we must support women and their decisions over what happens to their bodies. I do understand that this is a difficult situation to be in, and sometimes being a loyal and trustworthy friend will leave us feeling conflicted. Ask yourself whom would benefit from you telling anybody of your friend’s secret? It’s fine for you to express your discomfort to your friend about the situation you’re in, but I’d suggest for the time being that you don’t. Instead, give your friend a safe space to discuss her reasons with you, if and when she feels comfortable. She told you because she trusted you, I think you should honour that trust. It’s unlikely your friend is going to tell her husband you knew, but if she does, tell the truth – you wanted to tell him but realised (I hope you’ve realised) it simply wasn’t your place.

I made a mistake once of telling a friend of mine’s partner whom I was also friends with, that she was cheating on him. He didn’t believe me and neither of them have spoken to me since. They are still together and went on to get married , despite my meddling. Your friend hasn’t cheated on her husband. Yes she is keeping a secret and maybe it’s wrong of her, but that’s really not for anyone else to decide. She could have very good reason not to have told her husband and there might be things happening in their marriage you know nothing about.

Whatever you decide I wish both you and your friend, love and healing.

Steph x