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 email@example.com. 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’m not sure if this is the kind of story you are looking for because, although I am an Irish woman who had an abortion, I didn’t have to travel. However, having grown in up in Ireland I still feel guilty for making a decision that was right for me.
I had an abortion almost four years ago. I suppose I am luckier than most Irish women telling you their stories because I had just moved to the UK. I can’t even imagine dealing with the additional trauma of travelling out of the country to have an abortion. If you had asked me before this all happened, “Would you ever have an abortion?” the answer would have been no. But when the time came, I just couldn’t go through with the pregnancy. I lied to everyone about the reason for that ‘doctor’s appointment’. I went alone and to this day, I have yet to tell anyone of my family or friends that I have had an abortion. There is still so much shame and stigma surrounding abortion, I can’t take the chance of telling anyone.
I can’t bear the thought of anyone I love finding out and treating me differently because of it. I’m scared that’s all they’ll see when they look at me. I see the comments left on social media by anti-choice campaigners. They always hurt. The way Ireland treats the women that have abortions… it’s so horrible and scary. I live in fear that someone will find out. I couldn’t handle those things being directed at me. I couldn’t live with the idea of being judged and found wanting. And so, I keep it a secret. Like I said, I did not have the additional trauma of being stuck in a country with little or no support and that does not give women autonomy over their own bodies, but I believe the fact that I feel I must keep this a secret is a consequence of growing up in a country that treats women this way. I love Ireland, but it has made me believe that unless I keep this part of my life a secret, it would not welcome me home and I hate it for that.
Many thanks for listening,