Every week, 77 Irish women travel to the UK in order to have an abortion performed. With support for repeal of the Eight Amendment growing daily, Cillian Ryan speaks to one Limerick girl who made the trip.
Anne* found out she was pregnant when she was 16 years old. “I got really ill a few weeks into it, and I went to the hospital with what I thought was my appendix and I just found out,” she said.
She was with her father when she found out and had to immediately weigh up her options. The pregnancy itself was the result of a one night stand, and to this day, her partner has no idea she was ever pregnant.
“To be honest, it was either travel, or have it, and that’s college gone out the door. Those were my only two options,” she explained.
Anne eventually decided to make the trip, and while her family were very supportive for the most part, she still found the trip “nerve wracking”.
“The day of the procedure itself, that was the worst part of it. There were two people outside protesting, trying to stop me from going inside. Shouting abuse, calling me a murderer. They even pushed my father out of the way to try and give me leaflets. That freaked me out a lot. It was scary going over, but my aunt was living there, and she told me that there are girls my age going in and out every single day. I was in there, in the clinic, crying my eyes out, hugging my father, and these other girls were walking in and out, just like it was a visit to a GP,” she said.
Despite the support from her family, Anne still feels there’s a huge level of stigma around the experience of flying over. She said, “If abortion was available in Ireland, and you didn’t have to fly to a foreign country to have this procedure done, I think that would make a huge difference to the girls trying to make this decision, that I had to make”.
When asked if she had anything to say to anyone making this decision, she said, “It’s actually not that big a deal. It’s not nearly as big as it’s made out to be, once you see how easily it’s done. I was able to go over and back over the space of a weekend, and that was all the recovery time I needed”
She said that repealing the Eighth Amendment would not end the stigma, however. She still only has told a select few people that she had this procedure done, and feels like if it was widely known, she would be heavily stigmatised.
Anne fully supports the call for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment, with no limitations. “If I had had this child, that would have meant taking a year out of school, and I wouldn’t have been able to enrol in college. I wouldn’t have met my boyfriend, my life would have been totally different from what it is now, and not for the better. No regrets whatsoever about having the abortion,” she said.
*Name changed to protect identity
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article please contact:
Positive Options: 1850 49 50 51
Samaritans: 061 412 111
Irish Family Association: 1850 49 50 51