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An Irish solution: These are your abortion stories

On a daily basis women make the journey out of Ireland to have an abortion.

Anonymous

PEOPLE HAVE BEEN talking a lot about abortion recently. It’s the conversation that has been going on for years in Ireland, with questions asked about when politicians will finally touch the issue, which is considered a political hand grenade.

Recently, some well-known Irish women, actress and comedian Tara Flynn and Irish Times Journalist Roisín Ingle, shared their experiences of having an abortion.

Their stories had everyone talking. But what about the everyday woman?

Ingle said in an interview that it is a deeply private matter, but she said she is fortunate enough to have a platform to share her experience.

On a daily basis women make the journey out of Ireland to have an abortion. Where can they tell their stories?

TheJournal.ie asked for people to share their experience of abortion. Here are your stories.

stigma

I became pregnant completely by accident. I had just come off the pill, deciding not to renew my prescription before Christmas as I was no longer in a long term relationship, and to give my body a break. A post-Christmas party resulted in an unexpected evening with an old friend and I became pregnant.On the walk home from the chemist, pregnancy test in hand, my mind tried to influence the universe and the outcome of the test. The first test confirmed I was pregnant. I was shattered.
‘I was young, I knew this wasn’t what I wanted’ 
When I told my mum I was pregnant I cried so hard down the phone to her because I believed it would never be me. I was still studying part time and would have two more years to go. I was in a job that I absolutely loved but I wasn’t earning a lot at that stage. The father was someone I knew but not someone I wanted to be attached to in this way. I was young, although hardly a teenager and much older than my mum was when she had me, let alone my siblings, although her circumstances were vastly different – married, settled, supported. While I knew my family would try to help, I knew this wasn’t what I wanted. I did not want to be pregnant.

Just back from seeing the world, working a shit job for just enough money to party, I found myself pregnant despite using protection. The father, was a thoroughly decent guy.

I knew having a baby at that time would have consigned me to a horrible low paying job, moving back home with my parents and would have prevented the father from fulfilling his life’s ambition. I would have added to my parents burden at a time in their life when I should have been easing it. Most importantly, I would not have been able to give my child everything they deserved.

‘I was terrified’ 

It was December 2009 when I found out I was pregnant, I was 20 and in my first year of a law degree. Not the perfect timing is an understatement. I booked an appointment for February 2010 to go to a clinic in Liverpool, however I miscarried in January. Only my closest friend knew about this and was fully supportive of my decision, she was going to travel with me.

To be a 20-year-old, and to have to travel abroad for this kind of procedure is a very terrifying thing.

I travelled to Manchester to terminate a pregnancy at seven weeks gestation. At that time, when I found out I was pregnant I was horrified. I had only just gotten (back) together with the father and our relationship was extremely rocky and uncertain. Neither of us wanted to be pregnant nor to have a baby. I didn’t want to risk being a single mum – and it would have been a high risk back then.

travel

I had an abortion in 1997. I was only 17. When I told the guy in question, he was a bit older at 23, he told me that the choice was mine but that either way, he wasn’t going to be around. He then, literally, walked away from me. I travelled to the UK with a family member. It was an overnight stay. I can’t explain the feeling of relief afterwards. Although all my friends and family know, I am wary about people knowing.
I spoke to a nurse from BPAS in the UK when I found out I was pregnant. She advised me of my options, of which there were three. One; carry on with the pregnancy and become a mother. Two; carry on with the pregnancy and give up the child for adoption. Three; terminate the pregnancy. I chose door number three.I had to wait until pay day the following week to confirm my appointment and book my flights and hotel. I went to Birmingham because the accommodation and flights were less expensive.
‘They weren’t surprised I was heading back to Ireland that evening’

After my abortion my nurse said she wasn’t surprised to hear that I was getting the half seven flight home.

The airport was okay. I spoke to mum for a good 30 minutes while I was in the airport lounge, and she arranged to drive up to meet me at the airport and take me back home. I started to bleed on the plane. I immediately took two Nurofen plus and two paracetamol, which seemed to work.

When we arrived at Dublin airport, my underwear and jeans were soaked despite the heavy duty pad and I had to do a costume change in the arrivals toilets. I went out to meet my mum who gave me a huge long hug and then briskly took me home for some much needed TLC.

Within days of finding our I was pregnant I was walking past a bunch of placard wielding extremists, praying for my soul, as I entered the discreet clinic in Dublin. The service inside was caring, supportive and frank. They gave me a quick medical check up and a scan. The scan had the purpose of dating the pregnancy. They put the print-out in a sealed envelope and told me to present it at the clinic on the day. They recommended Manchester.

That day in the clinic there were 6 of us off the same flight out of Shannon 

I had to borrow the money from a friend and organised to go to London. The staff at the clinic were so nice and understanding. A woman travelling from Ireland was the norm for them. That day in the clinic there were six of us off the same flight out of Shannon. I flew straight home after the procedure which was not advised but I had no option as I couldn’t afford accommodation in London.

stigma

I was in hospital a few years after my abortion. I was asked if I’d ever had a general anaesthetic. I said no because I didn’t want to tell them why. I was worried about how they would react to me. So I stayed quiet. That’s what the stigma does.
I’d talk about this openly if I didn’t feel like there are extremists out there who’d judge me, hate me, call me a murderer. Roman Catholic relics droning through hail Marys and wringing their hands in ignorant despair. I don’t believe I’ve done anything immoral. I am perfectly at ease with my decision. But abuse and taunts aren’t nice. So I shut up and stay anonymous, like the rest of us.

abortion

I arrived at a very unassuming red-bricked house on a nice residential street in a Birmingham suburb, and was greeted at the ground floor. After I had signed in for my 8:30am appointment, I was taken upstairs to the waiting room. I was brought into a room with about 20 other people – which completely shocked me – who were either there as patients or partners, mothers, friends, for support. I was the only one who was there alone. 
I didn’t dare speak in case my Irish accent was heard.
After a counselling session, an ultrasound and a shot of anti-d (my blood type is rhesus negative so this would be required), I was brought into a tiny cubicle outside of a surgical room, where two Caribbean nurses (who were so gorgeous and funny and caring) gave me a pill and some water. I was sent away for a few hours to come back at 4:30 for the second part.For the whole morning and most of the afternoon, I whiled away my time in Birmingham city centre. I had nothing to do and no one for company, apart from a quick catch up with my mum on the phone and a call from my completely-unaware boss. I found a set of lockers to hold your shopping in the Birmingham Bullring centre, so I stashed my overnight bag in there so I wouldn’t have to carry it around.Finally, around the 4pm mark, I made my way back out to the BPAS centre. Here, a senior nurse inserted a few pessary tablets into my uterus which would induce a miscarriage. She gave me prescription antibiotics, another pregnancy test to take in two weeks, and advised that I wear a super maxi-pad and take pain killers at the very first sight of any pain.

life

I didn’t feel regret, and I don’t to this day. I acknowledge and remember very clearly the dates of the abortion, but I don’t think about what might have been. Today, I have graduated from college, I have been promoted at work twice, and I am in an incredibly great relationship with a man I deeply love. He knows of my past, and is supportive of me and my choice. We very much hope to have a family one day too.
As difficult as the decision was, I stand over it. I have made the most of my life since, working up to a great career and life in general. I  stand over the decision if wishing I hadn’t found myself having to make it.
I am however, still very angry that I had to avail of the “Irish Solution”. I sat in a room with five other women off one flight, not acknowledging each other, to avail of a procedure which is ‘not wanted in Ireland’.
Legalising abortion in Ireland will not make the decision any easier for women but it may serve to protect their health and ease some of the burden before and after.

I have no regrets whatsoever.

I am glad that I didn’t have a baby at that uncertain and tempestuous time. I’m still with the same guy, and our relationship is incredibly strong. I can’t wait to have him as a dad to our baby who is due to arrive any day now.

Read: Róisín Ingle opens up about her abortion: ‘I am not a bad person, I am not a murderer’>

Read: Pro-choice activists are not impressed by Enda’s latest remarks>

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