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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

mean?

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

life.

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

thereafter.

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,

where

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

way.

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

be.

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

pre-existing conditions.

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


My Eggsistentialism

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

anyway.

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.


In Her

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

Potter’s sequence.

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

fluid.

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.

here goes!

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

her best.

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

ahead.

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

I know).

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

8th amendment.

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

pregnant.

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

allergic reaction.

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

scared.

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

book.

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

utterly overwhelming.

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

to take.

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

and sorrow.

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

rock.

more help.

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

shadows.

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

what’s left.

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

pregnancy symptoms:

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

Nausea

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

Fatigue

as important and they were willing to risk my child's life by

could happen next. If I lose my eye sight permanently and

Headaches

giving me a c-section at 32 weeks.

I have to consider other options. Or just having another

Dizziness

doctor tell me that how and when I have my child is their

Plus all the symptoms of a miscarriage:

decision.

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

parents.

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

through work.

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

delay.

relationship, she is a 2 year old in an 11 year old body. She

mine.

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

innocent life.

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

purpose.

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.

42

The Limerick Magazine - Together for Yes  

Special thanks to Limerick Together for Yes, In her Shoes and Jacob Stack for the content provided in this supplement.

The Limerick Magazine - Together for Yes  

Special thanks to Limerick Together for Yes, In her Shoes and Jacob Stack for the content provided in this supplement.

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