As part of our Citizens Assembly submission we gathered the real stories of real women who had been affected by the 8th Amendment. Now, as we approach the referendum to remove the 8th from our constitution and allow compassionate care in Ireland, we are reproducing some of the stories, with permission. We want to thank those who submitted with us. Please share widely.
I‘m an Irish citizen. My fiancé is also an Irish citizen.
We live in London and we can’t come home.
We can’t come home because I‘m too afraid to live in a country with the 8th amendment.
2 weeks after my 30th birthday I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The Doctors found a tumour in my chest. It measured 10cm x 8 cm x 6cm. Imagine something that size growing inside your body. Literally crushing your heart. They showed me the scan and that’s what was happening. I was days or weeks away from a cardiac arrest that I wouldn’t have survived.
I had just turned 30. We were in love. We wanted to get married. We wanted a family. We wanted to do it in Ireland.
I had chemotherapy. I lost my hair. I lost everything that made me me. Everything. Then I had radiotherapy.
Then I survived.
We are still in love. We are going to get married. Maybe someday we’ll have a family.
6 months after I finished my treatment I got pregnant. I struggled to cope mentally because the hyperemesis brought me right back to the year before when I was so sick that I was dying.
I lost the baby.
It’s a sad story isn’t it? I‘m also a midwife, so my background professionally, though not what I want you to focus on means that a woman’s right over her own body is central to everything I do, every day.
We can’t come home. Because what if the cancer comes back? What if it comes back and I get pregnant again? I live in London, there is no choice to be made. We could terminate to safe my life and go through the hellish treatment once more and then rebuild.
We want to go home. But we can’t. Because if the cancer comes back and I get pregnant and we live in Ireland then I don’t get to live do I? It would be a race of time- which grows faster- the mass of cells in my uterus or the mass of cells crushing my heart slowly killing me.
Over here there is no choice. My mother has already buried two daughters, I‘m all she has left and while I‘m here I‘m safe. I‘m far away and I miss her. But I‘m safe. In a foreign country. Safe.
If we move to Ireland I‘m not. I‘m in danger because our country says the cells in my uterus are equal to me.
If I was your daughter or if your daughter was me – would you agree with them?
illustration by Mollie Little