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"The most terrible black doom came over me": Anne Robinson speaks out on her abortion experience

11 October 2017

Anne Robinson has spoken out about the abortion she had nearly 50 years ago.

She said making the same choice now would be "absolutely unthinkable".

TV presenter Anne Robinson, most famous for the Weakest Link, has spoken out about the abortion she had nearly 50 years ago - just after it was legalised. She told her story for the upcoming BBC documentary being shown to mark the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act, "Abortion on Trial."

"It was like jumping off a cliff"

The abortion happened when she was 24, and newly married to her first husband, the journalist Charles Wilson. Discussing it in detail for the first time, Ms Robinson said: "At the beginning of 1968, I was newly married, very, very unhappy and I found I was pregnant.

"I was terrified, confused and very, very lonely because I didn’t think I could talk to anyone.

Speaking of the fear that many women feel when confronted with a crisis pregnancy situation, 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."

"I felt so depressed"

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

Nearly 50 years later, the impact of that decision is still felt.

"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 is a mother of two. "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."

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 not 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."


Although she 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."

Abortion on Trial will be broadcast at 9pm on Monday 16 October. If you are struggling after abortion call the Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline on 0845 603 8501

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Comments (2)

  • Francis Phillips

    11 October 2017, 7:43pm

    I would like to post the Anne Robinson article onto my Facebook page. How do I do this? When I try, I get the SPUC newsletter but not the article itself.

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  • SPUC

    12 October 2017, 11:14am

    @Francis - when you share on facebook, it for some reason brings up the photo of the newsletter, but it is the right article! You might find it easier to share directly from the SPUC facebook page

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