I am tired of there being stigma, judgement and misunderstanding surrounding something that is happening in our country, EVERYDAY. The majority turn a blind eye because it isn't happening to them, so yeah lets just let England deal with our "little problems" instead of offering support and safety to those who need it .
It was something I had never really thought much about, abortion. I assumed a lot about the people who had them but I never knew the statistics, I never really understood why it was illegal in Ireland and I certainly never thought I would be having one.
I thought I was immune from pregnancy, that it would never ever happen to me and well it did and my world crumbled. I used to hear my friends say from around 17 onwards " oh if I get pregnant I will just hop over to England and get the abortion tablet, sorted". Part of me always thought it would be a simple solution almost like a safety net, a back up plan. I was wrong.
I sat in the doctor's office and made her do 5 tests, all dipping in clear and coming out positive. I always laughed at those scenes in movies, you know the ones where the main character gets bad news and everything goes muffled and slows down and fades away and its like a spinning camera sensation, well that is honestly what I felt in that moment staring at those 5 tests.
I think it was clear from my face that it was not planned, so my amazing doctor gave me some advice and talked through all my options, have the baby, give it up for adoption, or travel to England and have an abortion. I knew the first two would be impossible for me to do. I was innocent to the world and I was not set up in life to have a child. I did not want to fall into the system and be trapped in life. So I made the best decision I could with the options I had.
I didn't tell anyone at first, just my boyfriend at the time. He was supportive and rallied around me and travelled with me to England. The clinic I went to was small and discreet and the people who worked in there were some of the sweetest, most understanding people I could have hoped to meet in this situation. Coming from Ireland where you feel like you are carrying a dirty secret, to this clinic where everyone else was in your shoes or knew the feeling, it calmed me.
I was under 8 weeks pregnant and so was given a simple procedure of a tablet orally, followed 6 hours later by suppositories in my cervix as the final dose of the drugs required. Going to England was a struggle as we had to scrape the money together and borrow from a friend of mine to help us and we just managed to gather enough to stay one night. Now in normal scenarios from the abortion procedure under 8 weeks the oral tablet is taken on the first day and you are to come back the following day and receive the suppositories. I was leaving the following morning so the clinic were kind enough to accommodate my travel arrangements and a nurse stayed late to administer the second dose.
I have heard from other women that the pain level is different for everyone, for me it was excruciating. But in that budget hotel room, right by the airport my abortion was complete. I was exhausted and travelling back took a toll on me. I slept for about three days in and out of pain, bleeding for about two weeks after. Coming back to Ireland was heartbreaking and one thing that stung me the most was the morning we arrived back my boyfriend went off to work, leaving me lying in bed, crying alone. Realising that as much as he was a part of what my body went through, he could never know the pain, the sadness. He got to step out of the apartment and go off to his life, leaving all the worry and sadness with me in that room. I was so jealous of him for that, for being able to leave me and join the world again, no one the wiser. For me, I felt like I had blood trailing after me when I went out in public, like everyone knew what I had done.
This stigma, this stain on my conscious followed me for a very long time after the abortion. My boyfriend got over it outwardly and quickly went back to his life before the pregnancy. I on the other hand was stuck, unable to feel what I needed to feel for fear of judgement and scrutiny in this country. I slowly opened up to close friends and I can now say three years on that I am no longer ashamed of my decision. Quite the contrary, I am proud, proud of every single woman who has travelled the same journey I have. Proud of their decision , their courage, their resilience. I am a part of a secret club in Ireland, a club hidden in the shadow of a over bearing government and a "ignorance is bliss" mentality, with a religion that has women grasped firmly by the ovaries.
This secret club, these women warriors, they took a stand on the 27th of September. We walked out of the shadows and into the sun, quite literally that day. I felt such pride marching with 5,000 other people, men and women, young and old, who care about women's health, not just physically but mentally too. They marched and waved banner and made noise for all the days I stayed silent, for the days all of us travelled in silence and came home to silence.
I don't want to be silent anymore. I am standing up to repeal the 8th amendment in Ireland.
Thank you for reading my story and I hope it has broadened your view on what all these women go through, silently and by themselves.
( Elsa Crowley )