What’s it like for Irish women who have to travel to England to get abortions?

// 24 December 2008

Something like this:

Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 24 December 2008 at 6:41 pm

A very powerful video showing just what Irish women and girls have to endure if they want to have an abortion. The young woman in the video stated a very important aspect and that is she could not allow herself to process what had happened because if she did, there was a real risk of individuals finding out and blaming her.

Another important aspect this video raised was the extent to which anti-abortion activists go to in attempting to intimidate women from seeking an abortion. This common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor, written by Susan Wicklund, whilst focusing on anti-abortion activities in the US, is also instructive in showing why women from all backgrounds seek an abortion. Abortion is about a woman’s ownership of her body but as this video shows, when that right is denied to women, then women will go to any lengths to try and resolve the problem of an unwanted pregnancy. Much is made concerning so-called foetal rights but society still shows considerable disregard and even sometimes a callous dismissal of women’s plight when due to circumstances beyond their control they struggle to raise a child and also try to find enough money to live on. Instead propaganda consistently depicts such women as ‘welfare queens’ or irresponsible mothers. As always, it is women who are held responsible for suposedly engaging in ‘promiscuous sexual activity’ never men. Men’s role in the reproductive process is always ignored as though male sexuality is a given with no responsibility or accountability. But the reasons why women globally will go to desperate lengths in order to end an unwanted pregnancy are complex and varied. It is never a case the woman is selfish and is to blame for ‘causing herself to become pregnant.’

Josie // Posted 24 December 2008 at 10:28 pm

Dear F-word team, I have been so grateful for your consistently excellent posts many times in the past but never so much as now. I grew up in Ireland but don’t consider myself Irish – I do not wish to express any connection to a country where the Catholic church maintains a strangehold over the population and actively encourage adults to shut up and do what they’re told and rush to judge anyone who steps across “the line”. What an articulate woman Louise is – she describes Irish society so well that I almost feel like we could have grown up together! It simply beggars belief that a country which prides itself on being a major European player, a hip modern place, still allows women to be infantilized to this extent. It makes me sick to my stomach. It’s true that this is an issue which is virtually NEVER discussed – it remains a “filthy little secret” like so much to do with sex, sexuality and any form of adult choices in Ireland.

I have lived in London for the past 6 years and while I would be the first to point out the many problems in UK society, I never take for granted that I have never paid a penny for contraception while I have lived here and would be able to seek and obtain a legal abortion if necessary. This is an issue that feminists should be screaming about and thank you so much for posting this video. Please keep this kind of info coming

The Boggart // Posted 25 December 2008 at 1:27 am

This is a very potent and touching video that highlights an issue which really needs to be brought into the open, instead of shamefully slipping into that uneasy area of semi-taboo. I had considered myself aware of the situation, however I had no idea of its scale. In a way it’s quite shocking that even in an outwardly modern society abortion can still result in life imprisonment.

Overall, my strongest feeling is anger at the hypocrisy of the legal situation – it’s a cowardly faux “solution” which allows Church and government to elude a messy debate or possible “loss of face”, but which punishes poor women worst of all e.g. paying for travel expenses, time off work, childcare arrangements.

Redheadinred // Posted 26 December 2008 at 3:17 pm

Wow. I knew the situation was bad, but I didn’t know it was this bad.

I have some Irish ancestors, but I’d hate to live in Ireland, because as a woman I’d be looked down upon in this manner. I hope the pro-choice Irish women win their battle.

Mary Sunshine // Posted 26 December 2008 at 4:45 pm

This makes me weep.

Ariel Silvera // Posted 26 December 2008 at 7:29 pm

Thank you so much for posting this video, Jess, highlighting how this issue affects Irish women on both sides of the border. The stigma around abortion issues continues in this nation of ours, sadly. Luckily many people are working to make our voices heard.

Hopefully some day we’ll talk about it enough that politicians will want to listen. I was going to link to a couple of videos from Choice Ireland and the Safe and Legal campaign, but I don’t want to hijack!

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