All September, we are publishing abortion stories. If you are an Irish person who had an abortion, or a person who found themselves pregnant in Ireland and in search of one, and would like to share your experience, email firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no editorial guideline – a line or a paragraph or a chapter. Your voice counts. Correspondence will be entered into in strictest confidence.
I remember finding out I was pregnant- I took a test and sat on the floor of my ensuite and cried. What the hell would I do? I wasn’t in a relationship and my job wouldn’t befit a single mother pregnancy. I worked in the Irish Parliament. So I called my best friend, the only person I told. And after that I went to the internet and looked up English abortion clinics. What struck me at the time was that I was the rule – not the exception. The clinic was telling me to check what flights were available so I could get a corresponding appointment. I was calling different places to get one as soon as possible- eventually, I got Bristol. The week leading up the appointment was like a blur- I still couldn’t tell you some of the details. I flew alone; only one person knew. I told other people I was away to Dublin for the day; I told the man involved that my iMessage wasn’t working when his messages were coming through as texts. I was in and out in one day.
When I got to the clinic, I wasn’t the only Irish girl- there was another there with a companion. Again, we were the rule. Two things stand out to me from that day – the anaesthetist and the waiting room after. On the first, I’ll never forget how nice he was – he held my hand and spoke gently and kindly to me; there was no judgement, no ill feeling, he was just so sweet and kind as I drifted off. After the procedure and the room where you come around, the nurses brought me to a special room once I was dressed and ready to go home. This, they told me, was a room they had for Irish girls to wait and relax before they had to head off for their planes. Rather than rush Irish women away after the ordeal of having to travel to another country like criminals, they instead had a room with nice sofas, a tv and they brought me snacks while I waited. The other Irish girls came in later and I got chatting to them. In the end, they were on the same flight as me and we went to the airport together and hung out until our flight. It was nice to have someone in the end.
It wasn’t until much later I told some other friends and my parents. I don’t regret what I did. I had to do it. But the memory always sticks with me that I had to rely on information, services and the kindness of health staff in another country; that I had to lie; that I had to do all that alone.