Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about...
The Law The referendum on May 25th is about one simple
Under the 8th Amendment, from the moment a woman
A ‘yes’ vote is a vote for the latter, but what does that
proposition: whether to remove Article 40.3.3 and
becomes pregnant the state’s obligation is to try to ensure
replace it with the words ‘Provision may be made by
that both she and the foetus are still alive at the end of
law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy’, or
it. This may seem unproblematic, but it means that while
It simply means the Oireactas would be able to make law
whether to leave the Constitution as it is.
everyone will try to maximize the heath of the woman,
regulating access to abortion in situations that go beyond
the reality is that even if her health will suffer grave
those in which a woman’s life is at risk. Without the 8th
The 8th Amendment states that the unborn has a
and permanent injury the law compels her to remain
Amendment, the Oireachtas would be able to decide on
constitutional right to life, which the state is to defend
pregnant. As far as the Constitution is concerned, the
what the appropriate balance is between women’s health
and vindicate, as far as practicable, with due regard to the
state has done its job if a woman is still alive at the end of
and rights in pregnancy, and the protection of unborn
right to life of a pregnant person. In practical terms, this
a pregnancy, regardless of the state of her health and its
has wide-ranging effects.
implications for her life, her ability to care of her children, and her prospects of future, further motherhood. The 8th
Let us be clear: nobody argues that the protection of
The fact that the unborn has a constitutional right means
Amendment is, thus, about much more than abortion: it
foetal life is unimportant. Indeed, supporting healthy,
cases can be (and are) brought to the High Court to
is about the care of all pregnant women and the clinical
happy and consensual pregnancy is in everyone’s interest,
override a pregnant person’s lack of consent to proposed
practice of physicians who are caring for them.
and earlier this year the Supreme Court confirmed that
treatment. Furthermore, anyone at all can take a case in
However, it is also, of course, about abortion.
even without the 8th Amendment the law can protect
an attempt to protect the rights of unborn life. It was
foetal life as doing so is in the common good.
through such cases that the Society for the Protection of
The 8th Amendment was proposed in the early 1980s for
Prenatal life is clearly of moral and ethical value. But so
Unborn Children successfully prevent the distribution of
a very clear reason: to stop abortion being introduced
too is the life and health of a pregnant person, and her
information about abortion services in England until we
in Ireland. At the time abortion was a crime, and the
ability to make decisions about what would be appropriate
voted in a right to information after the X Case in 1992.
Supreme Court had said that even though married
for her and her family. Since 1983 it has not been possible
couples had a right to privacy and thus to plan their
for the Oireachtas to strike a balance between these
families it also explicitly said that this did not extend to
interests: the 8th Amendment has taken that balancing
a right to abortion. There was no real political campaign
role away from it, and replaced it with a constitutional
seeking abortion; indeed contraception for ‘bona fide
provision that aspires only to the maintenance of life.
family planning purposes’ had just been legalised at the end of the ‘70s.
If the 8th Amendment is repealed then politicians will take on that role of balancing, and the government has
The 8th Amendment was a preemptive strike: it meant
already told us how they believe the balance should be
that the Oireachtas could never introduce lawful abortion
struck: by allowing a fair degree of discretion to the
as long as it remained in place. To remove or change it
pregnant person in the first 12 weeks, and almost none
would require a referendum. Now, in 2018, we are being
asked for the first time whether we wish to maintain that constitutional barrier on legislation or whether we want
Up to 12 weeks since a woman’s last period (which is
to make change possible.
about 10 weeks since conception) it will be possible to access abortion without having to justify oneself provided a doctor is satisfied that the pregnancy is within the protected period and the woman has taken a 3-day waiting period.
That 3-day waiting period does not have any medical
Between 12 weeks and viability, then, the government is
Repeal of the 8th Amendment and the introduction of
function. Instead, it is a key part of the balance
proposing very limited access to abortion and to strike
the systems proposed by the Government would strike
being struck in early pregnancy, providing time for
a balance that allows for foetal life to be ended only
a fundamentally different balance in Irish law. But this
further reflection, advice, discussion, and, if necessary,
would not be an unduly liberal one. It would be one
counselling to support a woman in her decision-making.
there are serious health reasons justifying it. This is
that recognises the importance of supporting decision
completely different from the law in England, for
making, of letting doctors support their patients, and of
Some people think 12 weeks LMP is too long, but
example, where abortion is lawful up to 24 weeks
protecting foetal life in a balanced and compassionate
the reality is that many women do not discover their
if there is a greater risk to a woman’s health from
pregnancy until 8 or more weeks in because of irregular
remaining pregnant than there is from ending the
menstruation or contraceptive failure. Nobody would
pregnancy. Statistically that is almost always the case,
Without a ‘yes’ vote nothing can change. The 8th will
want a time limit that is so short that women are
but in the Irish law only a serious risk will be enough.
remain in place, and nobody—including rape victims
forced into a rushed decision. 12 weeks including
Even then abortion is only lawful up to viability,
and people with fatal foetal diagnoses—will be able to
the 3-day waiting period is the average time-limit
whereas in England abortion is lawful without any
receive the care they need at home. Instead they will
across comparable countries in Europe and generally
term limit where there is a serious risk to the pregnant
continue to travel, to take abortion pills unsafely and
recognised as striking the right balance.
woman’s health. Abortion ‘on the basis of disability’ will
illegally, or to be pregnant when they feel they cannot
not be lawful in Ireland, whereas it is in England, again
Some might say there should be no protected period
without any time limit.
at all, but such a period is vital to protect and support
Article by: Fiona de Londras
women who have experienced rape and sexual violence,
Arguments that compare abortion in England with
most of whom never tell anyone what has happened to
what is proposed in Ireland fail to acknowledge the very
Fiona de Londras is Professor of Global Legal Studies
them and none of whom should be re-traumatised by
substantial differences between the systems.
in the University of Birmingham. She was born in
having to somehow prove the crime in order to access abortion.
Limerick and grew up in Tipperary. The only time that abortion may be possible in later pregnancy will be where a foetus has received a fatal
Those who oppose this have not told us how they would
diagnosis and the parents decide that it is best not to
provide a more humane and compassionate system for
continue with the pregnancy. These so-called ‘late term
such women, perhaps because they recognise—as the
abortions’ are acts of loving parenting by people for
Joint Oireachtas Committee and Citizens Assembly
whom the right thing to do is to bring the pain and
did—that no such system can realistically be designed.
suffering of their child to an end. For others this will not be the right thing to do. The new law will allow
After 12 weeks abortion will be strictly limited. The
Irish doctors to support people in dealing with such
proposed legislation says it will only be available where
a diagnosis and enable us to care for them at home,
two doctors certify that there is a risk to life or a serious
in Ireland, surrounded by the people who love them,
risk to health, and abortion is appropriate. One of these
regardless of which decision they make.
doctors will always have to be an obstetrician, ensuring senior oversight of decision-making. If a foetus is viable abortion will be a crime: the pregnancy will have to be ended by early delivery.
Disability and the 8th A note on language: [This article will use ‘disability-first’ phrasing as opposed to ‘person-first’ phrasing, as many disability rights campaigners, including myself, prefer it because our disabilities are not secondary to who we are, but a fundamental part of ourselves. I also will be using ‘women’ in reference to people affected by the Eighth Amendment for the sake of brevity, though I acknowledge that nonbinary people and trans men are also directly impacted by the Eighth Amendment.] I joined the movement to repeal the Eighth Amendment for many reasons, but the one which I return time and again to is this: as a disabled woman, the fight for bodily autonomy is one I have been fighting my entire life, and will likely spend the rest of my life fighting for. Disabled women face a triple-bind when it comes to our reproductive and sexual healthcare: we are burdened by ableist prejudices which lead to the depressingly pervasive idea that we don’t have sexualities, by the health issues we might have as a result of our disabilities, and finally by the daily struggle of navigating a world built largely without us or our needs in. These three, with an added dash of good old Irish misogyny, make for a hell of a cocktail.
The idea that disabled people either cannot, or do
There are also many health conditions which are made
not, have sex is an extremely common stereotype, and
worse by pregnancy. In my own case, I have Ehlers-
one that has an overwhelmingly negative impact on
Danlos Syndrome; this is a rare, genetically inherited
disabled people, particularly women. Disabled women
connective tissue disorder which means that all of the
in particular are frequently seen as ‘eternal children’i,
collagen in my body is malformed. This causes constant
innocents who neither desire sex nor ought to.
joint pain, poor healing from injuries, excessive bleeding from cuts, and near-daily joint dislocations.
This prejudice became starkly obvious to me personally
If I were to become pregnant, my hips – which already
when I first began to use a cane on a daily basis at the age
dislocate every second day on average – would likely each
of nineteen. Previously to that, I had barely had a GP’s
dislocate multiple times daily from very early pregnancy.
appointment since the age of fourteen or so wherein I
My pain levels, already high, would become nearly
wasn’t asked whether I was sexually active, or told about
unbearable, and I would probably need to use a wheelchair.
the pill. In the almost four years since I started to use
I would also probably have to quit my medications cold
my cane, I have been asked exactly once whether I was
turkey for the health of the pregnancy, which would cause
sexually active, and in that instance I was asked by a
intense withdrawal and almost definite relapse of my
consultant OB-GYN. (Apparently, a mobility device is
mental health conditions.
more of a barrier to my having a sex life than being a nerdy teenager who never went ou,t ever was.)
I very much want to have children, but it is no exaggeration to say I would be unlikely to survive a
Any sexual or reproductive health information I have
pregnancy. But I have absolutely no idea whether, under
needed since using my cane, I have had to seek out myself
the current vague constitutional definition of ‘threat to
– it is more than a little bit humiliating to have to do this,
the life of the mother’, I would be considered to be in
knowing that the only reason the information is no longer
enough danger to access a legal abortion in this country.
being offered to me as it was before is because it doesn’t
I, and other disabled women – including my partner, who
occur to many medical professionals that I might need it.
has the same genetic condition as me – should not have to
It is much documented that the less information given
live in fear of becoming pregnant, and of the potentially
to people about reproductive health, the more likely they
disastrous results to our health that this may have.
are to experience crisis pregnancies – there is no reason, other than the assumption that we do not have sex, that this does not apply to disabled people as well.
When planning our families, we should not have to factor in the costs of travel or the obtainability of illegal medication just in case something goes wrong. The
The risks inherent in an unplanned pregnancy will
Eighth Amendment casts a shadow over our family lives
also tend to be greater when the woman is disabled or
and relationships; unless it is repealed, the uncertainty
chronically ill. Many of us will be taking medications to
and doubt it casts over our lives will remain.
manage our symptoms which may not be healthy for the developing foetus – but abruptly stopping medication
The increased availability of the medical abortion pills,
once a pregnancy is confirmed can also be disastrous
misoprostol and mifepristone, have made abortion care
for a woman’s health, both mental and physical. And of
more accessible to disabled women in Ireland, who often
course, many women may not even be aware that they are
face even more barriers to travel than abled women do.
pregnant for weeks or even months – particularly if they
However, as long as the Eighth Amendment remains in
have a chronic health condition which leads to irregular
place, and women cannot access abortion care at home,
periods. By the time a pregnancy is detected, damage may
there will be women who need to travel.
well already have been done to the developing foetus. Many disabled women, particularly those of us with complex or rare medical conditions, are already familiar with having our healthcare needs exported to the UK.
This does not make the journey any easier. The experience of travelling abroad to access an abortion is a miserable one for anyone – imagine, then, how much that misery is
Men for Yes
compounded for those of us with ‘specific access needs’. Not
I’d like to see the eighth amendment removed from the Irish constitution. I feel strongly
only the isolation of sitting in an airport terminal alone, but
enough that I’m going to be out knocking on doors and campaigning as much as I can
perhaps also of needing to lie to the wheelchair porter about
on this referendum.
her reason for travel. In some ways I’m completely unqualified to have an opinion on this, let alone go out That is, if she could somehow, on the maximum Disability
campaigning on it. I’m a straight white man in his late thirties. I’ve been married for
Allowance rate of €198 a week, actually scrape together the
11 years, but my wife and I can’t and won’t have children. I think you’d be hard pressed
money for the trip at all. Or find a clinic with doctors who
to find someone less qualified to write or speak about women’s reproductive rights
had any knowledge of her disability, or access to her medical
than me. Yet it is precisely for that reason that I want to stand with women who are
history. Or, if she were a wheelchair user, if she could find
campaigning for this referendum.
a clinic she could actually get into the door of, actually get onto the surgery table of. And that isn’t even touching on the
I am an incredibly lucky person. I am a straight, white male. I was born in a relatively
difficulties of accessing adequate aftercare if complications
rich country. I received a good education, most of it free of charge. I am a beneficiary
do occur: which they are far more likely to if the patient has
of most of the structural inequality in this country, because I am on the winning side
of it. I live in a country where women are paid less, where people who grow up in disadvantaged families are themselves more likely to suffer disadvantage as adults, etc.
The reality of the Eighth Amendment is this: it does not
etc. And (bear with me!) sometimes that’s difficult. It’s not my individual fault, right?
protect women, and it does not protect disabled people.
I’m doing the best I can to be a decent person, occasionally succeeding, and while I didn’t create my genetic, historical and social good luck I can’t really do anything to
There have been claims by some defenders of the Eighth
reverse it either. But I can empathise, and imagine. Imagine what it is like to not have
Amendment that a liberalisation of Ireland’s abortion laws
the rights and privileges that I enjoy by accident. And, in particular, imagine what it
will lead to women en masse deciding to have abortions
might be like to have the fricking constitution inserting itself between me and my
when they receive diagnoses of foetal disabilities; this is not
doctor on what is the best for my health, life and well-being.
a point that I want to address, but I feel it is one that I must. This argument, to my mind, is rooted solely in ableism; in
It is just awful that Irish women not only have had to put up with an incredibly draconian
the appalling assertion that women will only knowingly
reproductive rights regime, but that, over the next two-and-a-bit months, they have to
give birth to disabled children if they do not have a choice
go out to the Irish people and ask and say please. Ask and say please for rights that they
in the matter. It is simply ableism couched in paternalism:
would enjoy in almost every other developed country.
disabled people need protecting, and we only exist because of a moralistic control of women’s reproductive choices.
I think it is time for Irish men like me, with our privilege and our luck and our sorrybut-what-can-you-do demeanour to stand up. Stand beside the women who are
As a disabled woman, I reject this utterly, and I say this: if
campaigning for control over their own bodies. Stand up and say please to the Irish
we are to protect disabled people, we must repeal the Eighth
voters who will ultimately decide on their rights.
Amendment, and allow disabled women to have control over our reproductive choices and appropriate continuity of
I know there are many people, some of whom are my friends, who disagree with my
care when we access abortion care. We must remove barriers
views on abortion, and I want to do my best to respect those views. I’m sure what I’ve
to sexual and reproductive health education, not only for
written here may sound tone-deaf, patronising or even insulting to women. I know I’ve
abled but for disabled people, taking our differing needs
a lot to learn. With rights and privilege come a responsibility to fight for those without.
into account. We must accept that reproductive healthcare,
Offering to help out in this referendum campaign may not atone for the rights and
including abortion care, is as much of a healthcare right as
privilege that I have been gifted, but it feels like a start. If you’re lucky, like me, you’d be
any other, and we must strive to make it free, safe, legal and
very welcome to come and put your shoulder to the wheel.
accessible to disabled women. Article by: Thomas Bibby – Limerick Together for Yes Article by: Aisling Kenny
Two years ago, I wrote a play about my journey to a decision
Every time that I sit on my bed or toilet seat with a
Like Miss P, a 20 year old woman who in 2014, though
about whether or not to try to have children. In the show I
pregnancy test in my hand, I will wait for the result knowing
clinically dead from a head trauma, was kept alive as a
wanted to look at how political and cultural contexts inform
that the moment a second pink stripe appears on the test
human incubator against her family’s wishes by somatic life
personal life decisions and so alongside my own journey I
will be the moment that I become less in the eyes of the
support because she was found to be 15 weeks pregnant.
also looked at Ireland’s reproductive health history from the
state. I know that that stripe will strip me of rights I had just
Although the High Court ruled in favour of her family,
inception of the state to chart the sequence of events that
the day before. The right to healthcare without qualification.
the decision was informed by the evidence of seven doctors
have brought us to where we are today.
The right to assume that if there was a complication or if I
who said they didn’t believe the foetus would have survived
was to become ill during my pregnancy, that the doctors
One of those events was the addition to the Irish constitution
would be able to do everything that they could to treat me
by referendum of the 8th amendment in 1983, which gives
appropriately, immediately and without question to protect
Because of these cases and others, I will hold the test
unborn foetuses and pregnant mothers an equal right to life.
my health or save my life. The right to give informed
knowing that becoming pregnant will mean I am less
consent to medical procedures and decisions at every stage
valued, less cherished, less protected, less safe; That my
of my maternity care and to refuse unwanted interventions.
healthcare will be qualified; That I will lose the right to
This detail in my show - and in our shared history - is not something that has directly affected me in my life until now.
informed consent; That unclear legislation and an inchoate
I’ve never been pregnant so I’ve never been in a position
I worry that I might be treated like Mother B, Geraldine
where I needed to consider having an abortion. But now
Williams, who was taken to court by the HSE in 2016 in
Article by: Joanne Ryan
that I have made the decision with my partner to try and
an attempt to force her to have a caesarean section against
Photography by: Eoghan Lyons
have a child, I find that in fact I am suddenly very much
her will. Or like Savita Halappanavar, who was refused a
affected by it. I am affected because the 8th Amendment not
life-saving termination in 2012, despite the fact that she
only prevents women from having access to safe and legal
had already started to miscarry and would lose her baby
abortion, it also affects the rights and care of all pregnant
regardless, because a foetal heartbeat was detected.
women in Ireland. Or like Michelle Harte, a nurse who in 2010 was refused cancer treatment while pregnant and then a refused a legal termination by a hospital ethics forum and so had to travel, while gravely ill, to the UK for a termination, delaying her cancer treatment for weeks. Before she died she sued the state for violation of her human rights.
Shoes In Her Shoes is a social media movement that has been set up to share stories of women affected by the 8th amendment. After speaking with members of the public on the streets, they realised that people don’t understand the various and complex reasons why women would seek to terminate a pregnancy. They wanted to offer the opportunity for undecided voters to ‘take a walk in her shoes’. Given the chance to look a person eye to eye, when we stop and take a moment to place ourselves in their shoes - we gain empathy and compassion for their lived experience. In Her Shoes wanted to take the opportunity to shed light into the lives of every day women in Ireland. Our sisters, colleagues, friends. Our school teachers, nurses, accountants.. Every parish around the country is home to a woman that has travelled for a termination, has sourced illegal abortion pills, has needed or wanted an abortion but was unable to access one, or has been pregnant under the 8th amendment - which restricts her right to bodily autonomy and consent. What wasn’t anticipated was the level of outpouring - the vital need for women that have been shamed and stigmatized, that have been living with a secret, to finally bring it to the light. Healing, and a weight lifted ‘I am not alone’ ‘I am not a criminal’ What has started as one way for undecided voters to meet the experience of 1 of the 12 women in Ireland that access termination services daily, has quickly evolved into being a platform for the voices of those that have been silenced in this country - the women that have continued to be terrorized throughout this campaign, the women that have to walk by graphic and gruesome billboards, the women that have been called horrible things by those that claim to ‘love both’. What has evolved is a greater understanding of the lives that the 8th amendment impacts, and just how it does - from pregnant women being threatened with Gardai, brought to the high courts. With women having their waters broken, or their genitals cut in birth without consent - to women pregnant with a baby with fatal foetal abnormalities, those pregnant due to rape, failed birth control, living in poverty, trying to escape domestic violence, or simply not ready to be a parent. Thank you, to the brave women of Ireland that have shared their lived experience. Much love to those that are unable to share theirs, we stand with you in solidarity. - Mná na hÉireann
”I was a 19 year old student nurse in an Irish Hospital
"I terminated my pregnancy at 25 weeks, last August
Yes, to make a terrible situation worse, my placenta
when I answered a toilet call bell during a day shift.
and it took me 11 years to make that decision. I was
came away and I started to haemorrhage. I lost 2.5l of
What I saw in there changed my life. A woman on
so grateful that I didn’t have to make the choice to end
blood and had to emergency surgery and a transfusion.
the toilet floor and her still birth baby in the toilet
my baby’s life when I lost my first little boy in 2006 to
The surgeon told me after that it was touch and go for
bowl. The woman was quietly crying and the hospital
my life as they couldn’t stop the bleeding initially.
bathroom tiles were covered in blood. The woman was
I had to spend longer away from home than planned
in hospital because she had been told weeks previous
It was my first, and very much wanted, pregnancy. As I
and hobble onto a plane 3 days after major surgery.
that her baby was going to die but nothing could be
was young, fit and healthy, I was considered low risk and
This ‘side effect’ could have happened to me at any time
done until the scans suggested no heart beat. She had
therefore had a dating scan at 12 weeks and no other
during the pregnancy and had I not been seconds from
come in to finally be induced. She shared a 3 bedded
scans for the rest of the pregnancy. I went into labour
an operating theatre I might not be here telling this
ward with 2 other pregnant healthy women. She went
and ended up having a Caesarean section as the baby
story. My life was at risk had I remained pregnant and
to the bathroom to use the toilet and it just came.
was in distress. I had no amniotic fluid and this would
the baby was suffering.
That happened in 2007 and under current laws could
have been picked up instantly at any scan after about 18
happen to any one of us today. The current options in
weeks, but unfortunately I wasn’t offered one.
Ireland are to wait the weeks out knowing that you
So, I’m home and I recovered well physically, I had to. But my heart was broken in two and my mental health
are carrying a dying foetus, or go to England to have
Our baby died after 12 hours hooked up to machines.
has not been the best. But I’m getting there, thanks to
a medical abortion (if you can afford the time off work,
The post mortem showed that he had no kidneys, small
an amazing husband, family and friends.
flights, accommodation, and procedure). In Ireland
lungs and heart, flattened facial features and bent feet
there is this culture, as long as it is not in sight then it
due to no room for movement in the absence of any
My problem is likely genetic and if my daughters, nieces
isn’t happening. As long as she is sent to an institution
or siblings have to endure this fate, please let them do it
then she doesn't exist. As long as she's on a plane to England then it’s not our business.
with me holding their hands in their country of birth.” I grieved. I said I’m not having another baby. I was angry. But I recovered well and I have a beautiful
Making Irish women leave this country for healthcare
angel floating around who is always looking after me. I
is no different than driving them up the gates to a
learned a lot from that experience and I wouldn’t take it
"I suppose the last story you’d expect to hear on this
religious Institution. We need healthcare for pregnant
back. Little Jack came to me for as long as he was meant
page is from someone currently 29 weeks pregnant. But
women in this country. And we need it now.
to and he will always be in my heart.
The woman in that toilet is one of many stories of
I now have three gorgeous and healthy girls (ages 9, 5
In my teenage years, I was diagnosed with a mental
neglect by us as a nation and hundreds have followed
and 3) and was pregnant with my 5th child last summer
illness. Since this time, I have learned to accept the fact
her. Stop pretending this repeal is black and white. This
when my world simply collapsed at the news that our
that the stats are against me and someday, whenever it
repeal is about giving an Irish woman a choice for the
baby had the same problems as Jack. Our anatomy scan
may be, I would choose to take my own life and die by
first time in her life. Stop putting your own morals/
at 22 weeks revealed that our baby had a fatal foetal
suicide. It then became clear to me that I would never
religious beliefs/ life experiences on us. That is your
abnormality and my decision to terminate was made
have children. Sure who in their right mind would want
business- not ours. Give us the dignity we deserve and
with no thought at all. No way was another one of my
to bring a child into a world where their mother has
the right to have our voice heard.
children going to suffer if I could do anything about it.
suicidal tendencies and a history, possibly future too, of
The abortion debate had begun in the media and it all
days where they simply can’t get out of the bed?
seemed like a horrible coincidence. We were now facing a trip to the UK. Plans were made with the help of our
Instead, I gathered all that motherly love that’s
incredibly supportive family and we terminated baby
instinctive to most girls growing up and I poured it into
Daniel at 25 weeks.
my nieces and nephews. They deserved it all. I worked damn hard to fight my bad tendencies and somehow
I did not know this at the time, but one of the side
found myself in a relatively healthy relationship. I kept
effects of this condition is placental abruption. I was
on top of my contraception. I wouldn’t let times of
not made aware of this until I received a report from
feeling good fool me. I wasn’t going to ever be a mother
the NHS explaining why my sudden emergency section
and that was that. Then, I was given new medication
had to happen.
off the doctor. I was not told that it would counteract my pill.
In November I found out I was pregnant. Whilst they
We need to stop the judging people in every area of their
She was a lady I would have paid any amount for that scan
debated in the Dáil whether or not to let this legislation
lives and instead help them. Help them make the correct
but she gave us our money back which I thought was nice.
go to a referendum, I was debating whether or not to go to
decision for their lives, not yours. Help them when their
England. I chose not to. That’s right, I chose to keep this life
mental health, physical health or financial health is failing
We then went to the rotunda hospital a few days later, I
inside of my belly so maybe that means I’m prolife? But it
to provide what their child or future child needs.
remember sitting in the waiting room, all the other woman
was still a choice, MY CHOICE.
there pregnant. I sat on the chair trying my best to hold I hope I have made the right decision in keeping my bump.
the tears in but I couldn’t. I couldn’t control myself, it was
As my pregnancy progressed, the hormones surging
I hope I can continue to fight my dark days and be the
all so upsetting “why me, why my baby” again got scanned
through my body proved to be too much to handle. I
best mother I can be. I hope I can raise him to completely
and told even more worst news about my poor little baby,
began self-harming for the first time in two years. I found
respect women and I hope it will be in a country where the
pushing the scanner on me so hard because I had no fluid. It
myself feeling more hopeless and suicidal once more and
choice is your own, if you are ready or not to be a parent.
was so hard for them to see the baby, my stomach was sore
asking myself had I made the wrong decision not to go to
Stop shaming women out of their country for a decision
for days after each scan. I asked was there even 1% chance
England?! And yet instead of helping me feel better, some
that they feel is the best. Life isn’t ever black and white.
and I was told 0% chance of survival. We were brought into
people I tried to talk to made me feel so ashamed and
Every moment is a choice. Repeal the eighth"
a tiny room then.
utterly guilty for even thinking of it. Which didn’t help the depression clearly already creeping in.
I thought they would tell me I would be started or they were going to give me a C section, never in my life did I think they
I asked myself if my family members that seem to be anti-
”In 2015 I was 21, and beaming with excitement that I was
would tell me I have to continue with the pregnancy until
abortion would think differently and wished I’d taken “the
pregnant with our first child, same time as my sister too.
he dies inside me or make it to full term, or go to Liverpool
easy way out”. If today, they realised the pregnancy was too
to get induced. I just remember standing up and feeling my
much for me and I said goodbye to them forever. Would
At a routine check-up at 23 weeks I was scanned to find out I
world turn upside down. How could this be happening to
they still be pro-life to someone they hadn’t met in replace
hardly had any amniotic fluid. We were told the devastating
me? I stood up and my body just went into shock I couldn’t
of their own sister/daughter/friend?
news that our baby had no kidneys, no bladder, very bad
believe what I was hearing, I started to get sick and while I
spine bifida, holes in his little heart and brain damage, but
was getting sick I started to wee myself. How embarrassing
A few months back I watched a mother send her child into
yet his heart was beating perfect. He didn’t know once he
it sounds, I just went into complete shock.
rob a shop. I didn’t know if she was high on drink, drugs or
was out of my womb that he had no chance of survival.
medication but she wasn’t quite all there. As I looked at her
If I continued with the pregnancy I would have to keep
a man said to me “some people should never be mothers”.
I felt sick, I felt numb, and I felt robbed. I just got up and
going to Dublin weekly for scans, just to see if his heart
And although I somewhat in a grey area agreed with his
ran out of the room. I ran outside, sat on a bench at the side
stopped beating, so I was just waiting for my baby to die.
comment, I couldn’t help but get angry at such blatant
of the hospital sobbing my heart out with loads of people
Everyone knew I was pregnant. I hated bumping into
judgement. Especially when he has also told me he is voting
walking by me. One man stopped, he never asked what’s
anybody, people asking when I am due, I got to the stage
no in the coming referendum. You can’t have it both ways.
wrong but just wrapped his arms around me and said “you
where I wouldn’t leave the house.
You can’t think she can’t get an abortion but also can’t have
will be ok pet” I just cried my eyes out, and he walked away.
a child. Do you think she should be a virgin her whole life?
I will never forget that man.
Maybe this lady, knew herself she was not stable enough,
We got the money together and decided we would go to Liverpool, I just couldn’t do it. I felt so depressed and sad, it
responsible enough to be a mother yet. Maybe she, like
The hospital was referring me to another hospital but they
was like I was grieving and my child wasn’t even dead yet.
me, had contraception fail her. Maybe something horrible
said it could take 2 or 3 days. I couldn’t wait that long, so
Everything was booked. We had to go back to the rotunda
happened her and this is her trying to cope with it, trying
I went straight onto the internet for a private scan and got
for my final scan in Ireland, they were hoping his heart
one that day. My partner’s sister brought us. On the way
would have stopped beating so I wouldn’t have to travel and
up I was praying, praying so hard to everyone in heaven,
have him at home, how horrible to be even told that, but
Maybe she knew she was not ready to responsibly rear a
to God, “please let them be wrong, it was a mistake, my
there he was his heart beating away not knowing what was
child but could not afford to get to England. Maybe if we
baby will be fine please” we got there and paid around €170
repealed the eight we wouldn’t have so many “unfit mothers
for the scan. The woman was lovely, I think her name was
scrounging of the state” (a direct quote from a separate man
Monica, she scanned me and I could see straight away by
I was starting to have doubts, the midwife Jane was so, so
her face that it was bad news. She just told us what the
lovely, she told me if I did continue on more than likely his
hospital told us. She tried so hard to get me a picture of the
heart would stop beating, or I could give birth and his back
baby’s face on the 3D scan, left the room and came back in
was so bad it could break during birth, and his lungs would
with 2 envelopes one with the scan pictures, and the other
of been filled up with the fluid so it would be so hard for
with our money back, she said she couldn’t accept it.
him to breathe. I felt so sick, I wanted to see my baby open his eyes I would have loved to spend an hour with him, a minute, any time, but for his sake I couldn’t. I couldn’t put him through that.
I started to have awful bad nightmares at night and they
Repeal the 8th so women don’t have to travel, don’t have
were making me more scared to travel, I was absolutely
to bring their baby home on a boat in the middle of the
petrified. Just my partner and I travelled to Liverpool,
night in a boot of a car. I always feel so much was taken
our family wanted to come to support us, to be there,
away from me. I would have loved my other sisters and
but I was having none of it. I knew they couldn’t miss
my family to meet my son but they couldn’t, my home
work, but I was feeling so punished, punished for
country let me down, let my son down and took so
nobody being able to meet our little boy. It was such a
much away from us.”
horrible feeling felt so lonely and low and I was so so We were blessed to have an aunty living in Liverpool, I
"I wanted to share my story because very often I see
say she was like an angel, she and her husband helped us
people like me used as an excuse against repealing the
so much. I couldn’t imagine having to go over and stay
in a hotel. We got a late flight out on Monday night, Tuesday morning we went to the women’s hospital for
I have struggled to get pregnant and struggled to stay
my final scan, this scan was to make sure 100% that he
was very sick and had no chance of life, and again we were giving even more bad news his brain was so badly
At 23 I decided to have fertility testing done as I knew
damaged, along with having no kidneys or bladder and
my cycles were erratic and it worried me. My fears were
everything else that was wrong with his tiny little body.
confirmed after a series of tests and I was advised that I
The lady that was scanning me went into detail with
probably wouldn't get pregnant without assistance.
everything, it was all so much to take in, how could all
I was referred then to a fertility specialist.
this be happening to my little boy? I was induced and
A week before my appointment I felt ill and my whole
stayed the night. I would never forget the pain I was in
body broke out in a rash. It was like I was having an
Wednesday morning, and then my Mam and dad and
sister walked into the room, and my partners Mam and sister walked in. It was so emotional, I couldn’t believe
After a few days my partner asked if I could be
they came over. My partner had it set up. They were
pregnant as I was still very nauseous. I shut him down
there in the room the whole time until he was born,
straightaway and sobbed because I knew my chances of
10 hours later my little boy was born still at 27 weeks.
conceiving naturally were slim to none. Still, his words
I carried him for 4 weeks known he was going to die
stayed with me and when I was out shopping I threw
and it was hell.
a test into the basket just in case. It came up positive instantly. I was in total disbelief. It was exactly what I
He was so beautiful, so perfect on the outside, but yet so
wanted but after having just been told I was unable to
damaged on the inside. The hospital treated us with so
ovulate I was afraid it was a mistake.
much respect and dignity, they were amazing at such a I booked a private scan because I couldn't date my pregnancy due to the erratic nature of my cycle. We left on Saturday and travelled home by boat. We were told his tiny white coffin had to be in the boot
I had my scan and there was no heartbeat. I was told it
of the car for the journey home, it was awful but I was
might be too early and to return in two weeks.
just thankful I could get my baby home. I wouldn’t have been able to leave without him. Leaving the hospital
During this time the rash became worse and I was very
with empty arms and an aching heart was bad enough.
ill. I went to the maternity hospital to see what was
We laid him to rest the next day, it was Mother’s Day,
going on. They scanned me and couldn't find a heartbeat
my first ever Mother’s Day and I buried my precious
either. They advised I return in 10 days. I couldn't take
son whom I would have taken my last breath so he
anything for the hives all over my body.
could take his first. Luke was 3 last week and I think about him every minute of the day.
going to end with a baby in my arms. It had happened too easily after all the anguish and torment of trying and trying and then getting bad news from the fertility tests. I returned 10 days later and the pregnancy sac had grown, I was suffering with nausea and the rash was
hard and sad time.
At this stage I was fairly certain the pregnancy wasn't
still present. Again I was advised to return in another 10 days. I was told that because there had been growth they couldn't diagnose a miscarriage ''just in case''. But I knew it wasn't right. They were the longest 10 days of my life. I returned on a Tuesday morning with my partner and was finally given the news I'd dreaded. There was still no heartbeat and the pregnancy hadn't grown since the last scan. We were devastated. To not only lose our longed for baby but to also face the harsh reality that there would be a battle ahead in order for us to have a baby. Since then I have lost two more pregnancies. I often see people pass remarks online about how they are against abortion because ''some women can't have children'' and this really hits a nerve. My struggle is not anybody else's load to carry. Just because I struggle to get and stay pregnant it shouldn't mean that anyone else should be forced into a pregnancy. I just want to shout out that it doesn't matter what another woman does with her body. It won't bring my babies back and it's not like they can transfer their pregnancy over to me. It doesn't work like that. We all have our own journey and I hate hearing stories like mine being used as an excuse to deny someone a choice over what happens to their own body. As it turned out I did have one successful pregnancy. It was filled with terror and scares, I very nearly lost her. It appears that I have issues with how the placenta functions. I am so lucky she is here with me now. Now instead of fertility testing I am undergoing recurrent miscarriage testing. It is hard. We don't know if we will ever have another child. It doesn't make a difference to us if every woman in Ireland gets pregnant and chooses to go through with their pregnancy. It still won't bring my three back and it won't mean I'll miraculously become pregnant again.
It won't heal the ache and longing I have to have a bump
The sac was still empty. I had been bleeding for days and in
Our second baby was to make our little family complete
and feel the kicks. A thousand babies could be born around
every fibre of my body, I understood my baby was gone. ‘We
and we were excitedly preparing for his or her arrival in
me right now but it won't fill the emptiness I feel myself.
are so sorry but you will have to come back again next week.’
September. Following a healthy pregnancy with our
I was in utter shock. I literally had no idea that I could be
daughter two years ago, and the comfort of an early scan,
Please stop using women like me as a reason to save the
denied treatment yet again. I cried, begged and pleaded.
there were no nerves that morning. The visit would provide
8th. Throughout the tests and the failed pregnancies I have
I offered to sign anything, to do anything for this to just
a better glimpse of our child and a photo for the memory
been hurt by the 8th amendment. It has a huge impact on
be over. All I wanted was to allow my body to let this
how miscarriages are handled. It makes an already dreadful
pregnancy go. They explained that I had no option but to
experience a million times worse because we have no control
wait and come back the following week.
whatsoever over our healthcare choices, even in the case of a failing pregnancy and a failing heartbeat."
"Getting engaged and getting a cancer diagnosis in the
I am not religious and I am not actively involved in politics. I wholeheartedly respect an individual’s right to choice
At the third appointment, after the third scan, I was finally
and have been aware (and in support) of the Repeal the
given misoprostol and sent home to end my pregnancy. It
8th Amendment movement and upcoming referendum,
took five months for my HCG levels to drop back to zero
admittedly from a comfortable distance. Despite this, when
and I was bleeding each and every day.
the consultant dropped her eyes and told us that they would
same month was not in my plan. My lovely boyfriend and
not be able to help us should we decide to end the pregnancy,
I had been together since we were 19 and thankfully, he
That miscarriage led me to the darkest place I have ever
I was floored. I didn’t understand how I was going to put
was my rock throughout that horrendous year of fertility
been to in my life. Unlike my cancer journey where I craved
one foot in front of the other with the pain in my heart, let
treatment to create embryos in case the treatment took
love, support and company, I could not let anyone into this
alone make my way to the UK.
away my ability to get pregnant, chemotherapy, hair loss,
pain. Not my husband, not my mother. I was alone. I was so
radiotherapy and counselling. I was enveloped by the love of
ashamed of my body, so ashamed that I had somehow caused
The team did their best to remain compassionate but the
my family and friends and that wave somehow carried me
the loss of this life. The shame and fear that I would never
advice was cold and well-rehearsed and they sent us away
though. My wedding day was a celebration of love and life
have a child almost ate me alive. I isolated myself in horror
with phone numbers and a promise that they would resume
and triumphing over the terrible. I found out I was pregnant
and blackness. I grieved that baby so deeply, so intensely
physical and emotional care once we arrived home.
just two months later. The bright Spring day felt miraculous.
and that grief changed me as a person. The two weeks I had
I was moving on, the nightmare of what we had all gone
to wait for medical treatment was utter torture and torment.
As it was a bank holiday weekend, the Irish crisis
through was fading to a distant memory.
I will always carry the scars those two weeks inflicted on
organisations closed their doors for three long days following
me. If I had been able to access abortion medication earlier,
our baby’s diagnosis and we struggled to make contact with
I was six weeks pregnant when I started to bleed.
I might have been spared at least some of the pain and in
the UK. While the rest of the country celebrated what it
In a panic I rang the doctor. Immediately, I was booked in
particular the trauma of repeatedly having to go up the
means to be Irish, we were witnessing the very darkest side
for an appointment in the Aisling Suite in the CUMH. The
CUMH. The Eighth Amendment hurt me deeply but at
of our archaic legal system.
scan showed what I had already known, there was an empty
least I am alive to tell the tale. As we know, not all of its
sac. Empty. Our baby was gone. Everything came crashing
victims have been so lucky."
What followed was a living nightmare. Trying to come to
down as my body betrayed me yet again. At the end of the
terms with the fact that our little baby would never be while
corridor, I cried behind an almost transparent curtain and
reaching out to every resource, from Irish charities to UK
waited to find out what would happen next, fully expecting
"Just before St Patrick’s Day this year, during a routine
hospitals, was devastating, abnormal and so very lonely. For
that everything would be quickly taken care of. The nurses
booking visit at the Rotunda Hospital, my baby of
seven days, we tried and failed to arrange an appointment
explained that they would need to wait at least a week before
nearly thirteen weeks was diagnosed with a fatal foetal
with a suitable service. The only option available would be
they could do anything for me. They said that there had
abnormality. He or she would have absolutely no chance
two weeks from the original diagnosis - a lifetime away.
been some misdiagnoses and that they had to be 100% sure.
of survival and if carried to term, could only live for a few
Numbly, I agreed to wait the week.
hours, if not minutes. The confusion, shock and grief was
But that’s where we are, nine days later. I have made contact
with a number of wonderful women who have done and
Finally, after a week of sleepless nights, we duly arrived the
are still doing their utmost to help secure an appointment
next week. I kept my eyes down as we passed the pregnant
sooner but we may just have to wait.
women in their dressing gowns and new-born babies in carry-tots in the lobby of the CUMH as the scan was repeated.
I had been beginning to feel the baby move. We had
To add to it, the amount of the amniotic fluid appeared
with, I had to face a lot of strangers and act normal,
picked names and were reading books to our little girl
reduced. The scan operator advised that we make an
when all I wanted to do was to curl into a ball and weep.
about becoming a big sister. As someone very accurately
urgent appointment with a specialist at the hospital.
I also lost a lot of blood during and after the induced
put it, “you’re grieving the loss of the baby that could
She tried hard not to alarm us. She managed to fool
labour, I became anaemic, causing me to faint several
have been while grieving the loss of the baby that is.”
my husband, but she didn’t fool me. I spent the journey
times. Because of my condition, we couldn’t take our
home in floods of tears. This was just the beginning of
return flight, and we struggled with booking a new one.
the ocean that followed.
All flights to Dublin were fully booked until 2 days
My heart is broken for this tiny creature and I am so sorry that things are not different. I panic that each
later. Only thanks to the hospitality of the Liverpool
day the baby grows, the more awareness he or she may
Five days later we went for the appointment with
hospital we had somewhere to stay.
develop (despite the medical professionals’ assurances
the specialist, and my world collapsed. The specialist
otherwise) and the guilt of working so hard towards the
confirmed that my baby had only one stunted kidney
Almost 8 months passed since, and we’re pregnant
goal of the termination goes against all of my maternal
which didn’t work. My baby couldn’t produce urine,
again. I’m terrified of every single upcoming scan and
instincts. Even so, I know that this is the path we have
and because of that the amount of the amniotic fluid
I’m afraid to be happy. I also still wake up at night
reduced even further, leaving very little room for the
weeping for my little boy. I never regret termination;
little one to move. I was told this could lead to a stunted
I just regret that he couldn’t live. And this notion still
I want to be able to say goodbye to this little life, to
growth, malformation, and eventual miscarriage. More
breaks my heart. I wish that we didn’t have to travel
mourn the child that could have been and the child who
importantly however, my baby would not develop his
abroad to seek help in our darkest hour, and that our
is. I want to just be sad. I don’t want to spend my days
lungs, as the amniotic fluid is vital in their formation. My
little boy was buried in Ireland, close to home, where we
on the phone, worry about the logistics and the costs,
very first and very much wanted baby was to die trying to
could visit on a Sunday afternoon."
waiting for news on an appointment I so badly need but
take his first breath. We were 16 weeks and 5 days, and
would do anything not to keep.
our dream was over. ”I was 31 when I became a first time mammy, I was also
There is no happy ending for our situation. We will
We were given information on our options, and were
31 when I lost my eyesight and learned the true nature
always live with this loss, although over time I hope that
assured that whatever we decide the hospital will help us
of the 8th amendment.
the pain will subside. There is, however, hope for the
through it. We decided to terminate through an induced
unfortunate women (and couples) who find themselves
labour, and we started the process of arranging things
I'm lucky that my shoes didn't walk me on that long
in our tragic circumstances in the coming months and
with the hospital in Liverpool. My husband made most
walk to another country, but my shoes walked the other
years. Hope that they will have their wishes met at home,
of the calls. I couldn’t face them. In fact, there was little
side of the 8th amendment. We were newly married and
that they can move forward fully supported by Irish law
I could face at that time; I was too consumed with grief
decided to start trying for a baby, we were really lucky
to mourn their loss without the complications and added
to get pregnant straight away. Everything was perfect. I
trauma of a broken system."
have type one diabetes, a long term life altering illness I learned that I still harboured a glimmer of hope, when
that can cause extra issues in pregnancy, but everything
the foetal medicine specialist in Liverpool yet again
was perfect. That was until exactly 20 weeks pregnant,
"We treated ourselves to a scan at 12 weeks. We went
confirmed the diagnosis, crushing whatever hope was
when I went blind overnight. From a few dark shadows
to a private clinic, and were delighted to hear our baby’s
left, and yet again breaking my heart.
to total darkness.
was perfect: the heart, the brain, ten fingers and toes.
We decided to go ahead with the termination. My
My team of eye doctors had never seen a case like mine,
However, he wasn't fully cooperating, and was positioned
husband and I were crying together, and made all the
and they didn't know if they could save my sight. But
in such way that his kidneys could not be checked. The
decisions together throughout this process. He was my
they vowed to try, because this was a New Ireland with
scan operator advised us to return in 4 weeks’ time in
Our little boy was born at 18 weeks and 2 days gestation,
But one part of me getting the treatment was a need to
And so we did, full of hope and excitement, delighted we
and we were given time to say many goodbyes to him.
wait until after 24 weeks, when the pregnancy was past
will see our little bean again so soon. This time the baby
He couldn’t travel back with us. Due to my husband’s
viability and the risks of treatment crossing the placenta
was in a perfect position to observe the kidneys, or to be
religious beliefs, he had to be buried where he died. So
was 0.0001% so until then I had laser therapy in my
more precise, just the one malformed kidney.
part of us too remains in Liverpool.
eyes three days a week. After 24 weeks I travelled for
Overlooking the financial implications (which were
hours to get injections into my eyes, a new innovative
considerable), travelling to another country added
treatment that helped stop the damage and allow my
heavily to the emotional and physical strain. To start
eyes to recover.
heartbeat and see him move. All that was observed
order to complete the scan.
Some days I'd regain my eye sight enough to see about
We decided not to involve a solicitor yet, but I wrote a
Due to some health issues I have, I am automatically listed
20% of the world and other days I could only see light and
letter stating my refusal to allow them to take my baby, my
as a high risk pregnancy, so an early scan was arranged for
husband wrote a letter stating his stance on them forcing
when I was 8 weeks to make sure everything was going ok.
me to choose between my eyesight and protecting the life of
We missed the 8 week date due to the storm, but went in
I thought all my medical team was behind me, I expected
my baby. We gathered documents and medical publications
early the following week for a scan where I was told the
that my eyesight was a top priority, so I could see my child
on the treatment I was receiving and we tried to get my eye
baby had not developed as they had hoped and I need a
and hopefully regain my eyesight, but at 29 weeks I learned
doctors to write letters, but they felt that under current laws
second scan to confirm more.
the true face of the 8th in a continuing pregnancy. I went to
they couldn't put their names to a legal battle.
see a doctor at my hospital, who told me I was most likely
When I went to my second scan I was told that I was
going to have my baby at 32 weeks because we don't know
So myself and my husband attended the next appointment
having what is known as a delayed miscarriage. What this
what effects your treatment could have on this baby. I sat
armed with out letters and ready to fight. My doctor barely
means is that the baby (hospital refers to it at this stage
in stunned silence while I was told that the ethics board
batted an eyelid. She said that she would wait and see how
as a foetal pole) had stopped growing at 5 weeks, however
of the hospital was unsure about 'allowing' me to continue
things progressed, but that's final decision was hers. That
my body hadn’t realised this and was assuming I was still
the pregnancy while continuing treatment. I asked if I
from that appointment forward I should bring a bag in case
pregnant even though the baby was not developing. They
could meet the ethics board and show them the studies I
it was decided that I would be having a c-section.
suggested I would have to go to a consultant and get a
was shown to prove how minimal the risks were. I also had
D&C as there was a high risk of infection because my body
contact details for doctors in the USA who had been kind
My eye sight began to return temporarily at 34 weeks and
had not removed the baby/gestational sac from my uterus
enough to speak to me over the phone about what treatment
my son was born at 38 weeks. I lost my eyesight again a
and I also had a sub haematoma tear & bruising where my
was available and how it had worked for others. But I was
few weeks after the birth, but my experience was totally
body has been trying, so they need to help my body remove
told no. Go home and pack a bag. The doctor told me to
different that time. It took me two more years to fully regain
attend the hospital the next week for steroid injections to
my eyesight. The doctor I dealt with has left my hospital
develop my baby’s lungs for early delivery.
now and I'm so grateful I won't have to face her again.
When they went to conduct the transvaginal scan to check out everything, before the next step it turns out the baby
I left the doctor's office in a silent haze. I was due to
The eighth amendment has left me with horrible memories
(foetal pole) still has a very small heartbeat (4-8bpm as
have laser the same day but when I got to the eye clinic I
of what was already a difficult time, but a time that I was
opposed to 130-150 bpm).
crumbled on the floor in floods of tears, a nurse cared for
finding ways to enjoy the experience of pregnancy, and
me that day, she hugged me and she gave me strength to
trying to separate my blindness and pregnancy.
make decisions. I had to skip an essential laser treatment
They couldn’t help me any further due to the 8th amendment, or to put it in their words, there’s not a doctor in the country
that day as my eyes where too swollen to handle the laser,
I've always been pro-choice, but I live in that bubble of
and the next day when I headed to Dublin for injections, my
believing it wouldn't happen to me, and I'm so lucky that I've
specialist had to contact my clinic back home to make sure
only been a bystander, the shoulder to cry on and person to
So where did this leave me….
that there wouldn't be an issue with the ethics board taking
get angry when friends have made that journey. But I didn't
It means physically, I was still experiencing all my early
this further. My husband was my eyes, he and my family
know until I lived it that the eighth amendment means I
worked hard to read up on the eighth and where my rights
have no rights to my own body in this country. I would love
stood. It was scary to realise that my eye sight was not seen
to have another child, but I have a deep rooted fear of what
as important and they were willing to risk my child's life by
could happen next. If I lose my eye sight permanently and
giving me a c-section at 32 weeks.
I have to consider other options. Or just having another
doctor tell me that how and when I have my child is their
Plus all the symptoms of a miscarriage:
Severe abdominal cramping
And then my baby would have to travel miles from home to
who will touch you at the moment.
be cared for as my hospital didn't have the facilities to care
Shooting pain down my leg
for a premature baby.
High risk of infection in the womb "This is my life right now!!
I got the steroids as I was scared of what I faced at my next
I found out early February this year that I was pregnant. My
Lastly, the emotional pain, they told me this pregnancy was
appointment, I spent a night in hospital getting the steroids
husband and I were overjoyed as we had been trying for a
now considered a miscarriage on their books and yet they
and I spoke to a midwife about what I faced, she told me
significant period of time and we couldn’t wait to become
couldn’t help me.
to get a solicitor as the hospital had the legal rights to force
me to have the baby early under the rights of the unborn.
I am HEARTBROKEN that I have lost my 1st baby,
down my jeans. I remembered crying, asking him to
a child that was wanted and already loved, and can't
stop because he was hurting me. I remembered him
stop crying, yet I’m also terrified that I am going to end
"This is my story, I have never spoken to anyone about.
laughing and pushing harder.
up with a severe infection due to the lack of treatment
This is for those who say the 8th has no place being
I didn’t think of pregnancy until Tuesday. Five days later
and potentially damage to my womb/risk of no further
repealed, even due to rape because it’s not the baby's
when I left my apartment.
pregnancies. I have to go back in 10 days and they will
fault, or to just take the morning after pill because it's
redo the scan, then if the heartbeat has not stopped
what you would do in that situation. It is very easy to
By then it was too late for emergency contraception,
another 10 days and so on, they have no idea how long
hypothesize your reaction to a scenario that has not yet
I spent the following 2 1/2 weeks abusing myself
it could take. It is ridiculous to me that I can be left in a
and hopefully will never happen to you.
hoping there would not be a pregnancy as a result of
half way state, a purgatory while they wait for the baby
that monster. I visited every shop and chemist and
in me to just die. Unable to begin to heal emotionally
I was at my friend’s apartment, there was 11 of us having
bought in bulk any type of painkiller I could, along with
and physically because of a rule that states the foetus
a few drinks getting ready for our night out. Two new
prescription painkillers and steroids that had previously
has equal rights to me.
lads joined us that night. I had never met them before
been prescribed for an ongoing medical issue. They were
but a few of my friends knew them. I hadn't passed
my back up, because I couldn’t go to England and had
If my baby was a person on life support with no hope of
much notice of them, we all sat around playing 'truth or
no knowledge of abortion pills being available online.
recovering and going to die no matter what you would
dare'. It was my turn, I chose truth. One of my friends
If I was pregnant I would use those pills to kill myself.
have the option to turn off the life support. I should
asked me when I last had sex. I wasn't ashamed or
have the same option as I am the vessel of life support.
anything so just said "never, still a virgin". Most didn't
I starved myself. I stood under searing hot showers until
seem to care and if they did, I didn't notice. But one
I had blisters all over my stomach and legs. I punched
I understand that all the Pro-Life groups say for a
reaction caught my attention. One of the new boys. He
and hit myself in my stomach so hard and so often I was
women like me, where there is risk to the mother’s
stared at me even when I caught him staring he didn't
bruised, swollen and the blisters burst. I skipped college
life and the baby will miscarry anyway, they would
look away. After a few minutes he got up and walked
and walked/ran kilometre after kilometre during the
understand and feel I should be provided treatment, yet
across the kitchen with his chair and sat next to me. He
day. I fainted and fell down my stairs after 2 weeks of
they think we should keep the 8th amendment. What
hadn't spoken or acknowledged me all night and now
hurting my body. I was glad. I couldn’t bring myself to
part of them doesn’t understand that as my reproductive
he wouldn't leave me alone. He kept putting his hand
buy a test. If I bought one and it was positive that’s it,
rights are tied into the 8th amendment women like me
on my knee and trying to run it up my thigh. I asked
my life is over. Truthfully I was too scared to take one.
will NEVER receive support!
him to stop and he just stared. I felt embarrassed, like I
I am and ALWAYS will be denied medical assistance
was overreacting but I couldn't help how uncomfortable
I woke on Monday morning at 5:35am with the worst
he made me feel.
cramps I had ever had and cried hysterically for hours,
as long as the 8th amendment is in effect, as it is
I had gotten my period and my sheets were ruined with
a constitutional agreement, so there is nothing a
Eventually it was time to go to the nightclub. He was
blood. At 8:40 after my housemates had left for college,
government can do to assist me or anyone like me in the
driving some in his car so I got a taxi with a few others.
I got up, had a shower, changed my pjs and my bed
future unless it is repealed, no other laws can be brought
Having had my usual few drinks, I was tipsy but aware.
sheets and got back into bed and slept for the first time
in to change this, so when you choose to vote no, this is
He insisted on buying me a drink, I didn't want one
in almost a month, slept for 14hours straight because I
what you are denying your sister/mother/friend.
so politely refused. It wasn’t enough, he told me I was
knew I wasn't pregnant.
rude and hurt his feelings, everyone was looking, I felt I have always said abortion was not for me, but if
embarrassed so said ok. He gave me the drink and I
Some women continue with a pregnancy as a result of
someone else wants one, then that is their business, just
began drinking it. I don’t remember finishing it.
rape and find great strength and healing in it. For me
like who anyone marries/loves is none of my business.
I would rather die. It was never going to be a baby to
I personally love kids and want a bunch of them, that’s
I woke the next morning torn, in pain, bloodied and
me, but a constant reminder, as it grew day by day like
my choice and my opinion and that’s right for me. I
sick. I couldn’t move, I nearly wet the bed as I struggled
a time bomb, of a night that has broken me in so many
have no right to stand in the way of anyone else’s choice,
to get to the toilet. It was painful to pee.
ways. I have nephews and nieces that I adore and love
as they know what is right for them. Yet here I am in
and would do anything for, but it was not the same for
a situation where I need medical intervention and have
After vomiting the day and night I started getting
no choice, oh the irony.
flashbacks. I remembered him linking me to the car. I remembered him pushing me into the back of his car.
I am so angry right now that my country can do this to me…..What if I can never have kids after this…"
I remembered him forcing himself on me and pushing
my potential pregnancy.
It was 9 years on the 19th of March since it happened
I looked at him and said yes people are entitled to
and I still struggle. Every year as the date gets nearer I
relationships, to sexual relationships if they can consent, I'm
am immediately brought back to that time, clear as day I
“I've gone to write this so many times and honestly just
not trying to sterilize her or hurt her in anyway. Because
remember, I feel, I cry and I shut myself away from everyone
can't get my head around this.
she is so violent she is a risk to herself, to her teachers, her
and put a smile on my face during the day so I can get
school place may be in jeopardy, she will kill me as she has
I'm a mother to a little girl with severe special needs; she is
I physically, emotionally and mentally could not have faced
non-verbal, has a rare genetic disease, brain damage, and has
the possibility of having his spawn grow inside me for 9
a severe learning disability and huge global developmental
She will never live independently, never have a romantic
months. Because for me that’s what it was, it was his, not
relationship, she is a 2 year old in an 11 year old body. She
no idea of her strength.
has no concept of what's happening her body. She can't She is 12 but like a 2 year old. She needs 24 hour care and
tell me if she is in pain. If she had her period, her hands
I have read and listened to people call women murderers,
full assistance with all aspects of daily care. Due to the onset
would still be in her pants, where is the dignity in that?
sluts who should have kept their legs closed and so now
of puberty she has become extremely aggressive and violent.
What if I'm not quick enough to stop it? It's cruel to put
have to live with their mistake.
She has no understanding what is happening to her little
her through this while she is so unbalanced.
body, she never will. I have done books, pictures, stories and I ask you to remember there are women who can see what
she plays with the book or tries eat it like a baby.
you say, who won’t press charges because of these "opinions".
Again he said under the 8th amendment every woman has the right to reproduce. I said she can't ever consent. Ever.
Women who have had abortions not because they wanted
I've been trialling her with panty liners to get her used to
So then he said that he could suggest putting a mirena coil
them but because they needed them. Needed them because
them, she takes them out and hands them to me. If she has
in a 12 year old, which will have to be done under a general
of so many reasons that are personal, difficult and important
a little itch or tickle in her privates, her hands are in her
anaesthetic. I said no, she can't tell me if it's uncomfortable
to them. Remember them as you type your "opinions" about
pants or the pants are down regardless of where we are or
if she is in pain, let alone the risk of anaesthetic. Because
what you would do in hypothetical scenarios. Remember
who is in the house as she has no comprehension of what is
of family history, hormones are not suitable like the pill or
your words can cut like knives. They are hurtful and soul
appropriate and what isn't.
injection or implant and they could make her worse. I said
destroying to living, breathing, sentient human beings, who
it is cruel to make her go through this, to suggest a coil, how
have families, friends, and emotions, conscious thought, a
This is not laziness on my part. I gave up my job to care for
is that ethical and an injection for a few months to delay
fully functioning and developed nervous system that means
her 24/7 no help. She is up day and night and her aggression
the start of her period not?? His answer was to move to the
they FEEL pain.
is mainly directed at me, thank goodness. As therapists say
states where there is a programme? I said surely we are not
Think if it were your mother, sister, daughter who had an
I'm her safe place. The aggression can be so bad even with
the first family to present with this problem and he said the
abortion or who had been raped would you repeat these
meds that my face, chest and arms are black and blue. My
ethics board of this hospital won't delay puberty unless it's a
"opinions" to her.
teeth have been broken, split lips, she even tried to push me
gender identity crisis. Every girl has the right to reproduce.
down the stairs. I was 'lucky' I didn't need an abortion after I was raped.
I will always fight for the rights of the special needs
I was either never pregnant or the abuse I put my body
I met with her teachers, psychiatrist, psychologist, nurse
community in Ireland, we receive no help from the HSE
through caused a miscarriage, I will never know. But what I
and GP and as she is so volatile due to the onset of puberty
- there is just none available. I'm lucky I can care for her.
do know is that the most traumatic thing I have ever been
it was felt that maybe we could delay the start of it until
I firmly believe everyone has the right to relationships if
through was made so much worse by being made to feel like
the aggression was better managed and she turns 12 when
they can consent, to jobs, to education. I will always fight
I was the criminal, like I had done wrong, because we live
she may have access to better medications to help. We were
for rights. But my daughter will never have that, she will
in a society where "boys will be boys" and where I would
referred to a doctor in Dublin. That day I was, as usual,
always need 24/7 care, never be Independent, never have a
have to prove I didn’t want to be torn, bruised and violated.
black and blue; she was extremely agitated because she
romantic relationship. She will always have the mind of a 2
It was made more traumatic because I didn't have support
wasn't in her usual environment so was lashing out of me. I
year old. But under our current laws as long as she has the
and counselling to safe, legal and free access to healthcare
gave the doctor the letters from all the doctors who assessed
right to reproduce that's all that matters.
in my country".
her, all the recommendations, pictures of my injuries. He said to me "if your daughter walked in here and told me
I live with the very real fear that she will kill me or
that she wanted to be a boy due to gender identity crisis
seriously hurt me because she has and never will have the
they could delay puberty but due to disability laws and the
understanding of what is happening to her body. This isn't
8th amendment that she has a right to reproduce.”
just about abortion. It's about protecting women and their rights.”
Catholic and voting Yes!
For me, pro-life was some vague idea in the background.
I started to research and look into all the different cases
The realities of which were a world away from me.
that have taken place here in Ireland. Each known by
Abortion was never something I would consider for
a letter. The woman’s privacy respected but her wishes
myself and so it wasn’t something I needed to give a
denied. Details of their individual cases made public
lot of thought to. I am ashamed of the way I thought.
knowledge. The lengths this country would and will go
The disregard that I had for other women in their time
to to ensure a woman remains pregnant. Rape survivors
of crisis. I couldn’t and wouldn’t see beyond a baby, an
who have already been cruelly violated have their voices
once more left unheard. People with the tragic news of a fatal fetal abnormality, forced to carry to term or travel
A pro-choice Catholic might seem like an oxymoron to
It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my third and last
if they can afford it. And the cases that never make the
some or a rarity to others, but we are here and we are
child in 2016 that my thought process began to change.
headlines. The women who take tablets alone, without
numerous. For many of us it has been a journey to come
There was much talk about the eighth amendment. Not
medical supervision and with the fear of a fourteen year
to be pro-choice. We were raised with mass on Sundays
only how it effects a person’s rights to an abortion but
prison sentence hanging over them.
and religion class throughout all our schooling. We had
how it affects all pregnant people in Ireland and their
those little feet pins on our jackets going to school and
ability to consent. I joined an online support group
We have doctors telling us repeatedly that the eight
were told plenty about why abortion was a sin, so much
for people who suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum
amendment makes their jobs impossible.
was said about “babies” and innocence. That Jesus was a
(excessive morning sickness). One woman’s experience
We have lawyers telling us it is a law that is not fit for
kind and compassionate man who valued all people. I
in the states really brought the realities of the eight
can't remember hearing anything about the person who
home for me.
was pregnant and what they were facing.
How is any of that Christian? Where is the compassion No medications were working for her, she was starving
that I was taught Jesus showed to all people? He valued
and her organs were starting to fail. This was for her
the poor amongst all and here we are with a law the
a much-wanted pregnancy and she was faced with
makes the poor suffer. They are the people who cannot
a decision that no one ever wants to make. Continue
afford the choice of travel.
her pregnancy and possibly die as a result or terminate her pregnancy. I realised that I wouldn’t ever be given
Catholics for Choice, an organisation based in
this choice here in Ireland, at least not until I was near
America, tells us that the church officially teaches
enough to death that the decision was taken out of
that the conscience of the individual is supreme. We
my hands. I would be leaving my two beautiful girls
as Catholics can apply conscience to decisions about
without a mother, my husband without a wife, my
abortion. This means that if a woman feels that it would
parents without a daughter. All because my life is seen
be morally wrong to bring a baby into this world, for
as equal to that of the unborn in the constitution.
whatever reason, then following her conscience is the right thing to do. Article by: MaryAnne Tresoldi
THE LIMERICK MAGAZINE
Limerick Together for Yes - Chairperson Yvie Murphy
- Deputy Chair Jennifer Schweppe
There is just a matter of weeks to go before this referendum,
Since its launch only a few short weeks ago, the
Our country is being asked, for the first time in 35 years, to
if we don’t get a YES majority it could years before we
national civil society campaign set up to remove the 8th
reflect in our Constitution what is happening every single
get another chance. This needs to pass, for the sake of the
Amendment from the Constitution has made its presence
day in our country. In Limerick Together for Yes, we would
women in your life, for the sake of all of the people in this
felt all over the country, with posters, leaflets, stickers and
like to ensure that the stories of Savita, Miss X, and all the
country who can get pregnant, for the sake of the people
badges having been distributed to all corners of Ireland.
other women whose stories should have been a private issue
in this country who cannot afford to travel, for the sake of
The campaign didn’t spring up overnight, however, and its
discussed with their doctor, become part of our history. We
people buying pills over the internet and taking them while
three partner organisations, the Coalition to Repeal the
hope that you agree and will vote yes on May 25th.
home alone, scared and without medical supervision, for
8th Amendment, the Abortion Rights Campaign, and the
the sake of the doctors, nurses and midwives whose hands
National Women’s Council of Ireland, have been working
are tied by the 8th Amendment and are not allowed or
tirelessly for years to allow pregnant people access abortion
afraid to give certain care to their pregnant and birthing
care safely in their own country.
patients, for the sake of future generations. On May 25th please vote YES.
Special thanks to Limerick Together for Yes, In her Shoes and Jacob Stack for the content provided in this supplement.
Published on May 15, 2018
Special thanks to Limerick Together for Yes, In her Shoes and Jacob Stack for the content provided in this supplement.