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 was born in London, my mother is Irish so me and my family moved to Ireland 15 years ago when I was 10. I got pregnant around June 2012, it was accidental and I knew from the second I found out I was pregnant that I wanted an abortion. I suffer from depression & fibromyalgia and at the time I was very ill, mentally. I was not and did not feel capable of being a mother. It wasn’t my time or my boyfriends.
When the doctor told me I was pregnant I cried, a sad scared cry. He congratulated me and I told him I didn’t want this, he ignored me and told me he was referring me to get a scan and I would here from the hospital in a couple of weeks. He then told me my estimated due date. I’m sorry for rambling on but I want stress how much that first doctors visit effected me. He completely ignored my blatant distress and still congratulated me and told me I’d be happy once the baby was here even though I said I did not want this. From that second I felt like I had lost control of my body, the doctor would not discuss my options with me. I crumbled coming out of the doctors and felt so alone. I knew I would have to get help and find some way of getting to England without any doctors help in Ireland. I was 20 years old and already at the peak of my depression. I only told my mum and sisters, I couldn’t tell my dad.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I was trying to find a clinic in England which I eventually did, in Merseyside in Liverpool but it was weeks away -3rd August. That killed me, walking around having to act normal, go to work and pretend everything was ok even though I was breaking inside. My boyfriend and I then had to book a ferry to take us over as I wouldn’t be allowed to fly after the procedure. We had to do it in such a way that he wouldn’t miss work or nothing would be out of the ordinary. We drove to Dublin (which is 4 hours away) late on the Friday night, boarded the ferry that night & traveled the few hours on the ferry and had to drive 4/5 hours to my appointment in Merseyside where we sat outside the clinic in the car for 6 hours waiting until it was my appointment. We did not have the money to even go anywhere, we borrowed and cleared out our accounts to afford the travel costs and the termination. I went in for the termination, I was scared and I wanted to be in Ireland in a hospital their where my mum could be close. I felt so far away and alone. They were fantastic in the clinic and I felt a sense of relief when it was over. But after the procedure I had to sit in a car for hours and board a ferry when I should of been resting. It was kind of surreal on the ferry back to Ireland, I was exhausted, in pain and emotionally wrecked.
Once we got back to Dublin we still had a long journey ahead of us. I hadn’t planned on taking time off work but I couldn’t face it and didn’t return for a few weeks. It was then things became unbearable. My mental health went down hill and the depression consumed me. And suddenly my clear decision to have an abortion became murky and I tortured myself for having one.
I know I have really rambled on but my point is the lack of after care I received after I had the abortion (due to me living in Ireland) went part and parcel with my serious mental health decline. I tried to commit suicide a number of times in the few years after. Thankfully with the support of my boyfriend and family I got better. I now have a fantastic doctor & psychologist who understand how important repealing the 8th amendment is in this country. I sometimes can’t put into words how painful that whole time was for me, it still makes me cry but in anger. I’m angry imagining any other girl having to go through the ordeal I had to just to take back control of MY body and MY life. I do not regret my abortion, I will not be ashamed or made feel bad because I choose to have one.
illustration by Mollie Little
I live in Canada, so cannot vote, but my heart and thoughts will be with you on May 26. All the best and may you succeed.