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Early Life


Clare has just discovered she is pregnant.

She is an intelligent 17-year-old student in the final year of high school, with a particular talent and interest in drama and the theatre. She has always achieved excellent academic results. After secondary school she intended to study performing arts.  Clare is not one of the ‘risk-takers’ at school and had only social relationships with the boys she mixes with at school and in her theatre group. In fact, her friends have often teased her about her ‘single’ status. After a party two months ago, at which she had too much to drink, she had her first sexual encounter. She had known the boy since childhood but had no particular relationship with him.

Understandably Clare is in a state of shock. Her initial unease and anxiety over the encounter have turned to dismay and desperation. Two days ago she broke the news to her parents, who are also distraught though they want to support her. Together they are coming to terms with the situation and trying to decide what to do. Clare feels as though she cannot bear the collapse of her hopes, the shame of carrying the baby and the enormous impact a child will have on her future. She could not contemplate a marriage with a boy she knows only casually – she has not even told him about her pregnancy yet.  Everything she has been formed by has been turned upside down, her beliefs about what is right and wrong, her values and ideals thrown into confusion by what has happened to her.

Her father, previously against abortion, thinks Clare should immediately see a doctor and arrange to have her pregnancy terminated. He argues that at this stage the embryo is little more than some dividing cells, not really a human being. It doesn’t feel pain and its removal will set Clare’s future path straight again.

Clare’s mother is more ambivalent about this. She remembers her own pregnancies and cannot think of Clare’s child as ‘just a few cells’. But she too wonders whether an abortion would be the easiest way out for Clare and for the family. 

Clare wants to be convinced by her father but something inside her is saying, ‘No, Clare, you cannot do this, to your baby or to yourself.’


  • What should Clare do?
  • What will be the impact of her decision on her family?
  • What are the implications of her decision for society and how does society shape what her response will be?
  • How will the teaching of the Church guide Clare and her family in reaching a decision?

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