She is pregnant. She needs an abortion.
When she goes to the clinic, the law intimidates her doctor into silence. It doesn’t matter that she was raped, that the pregnancy is not viable, that her health is in danger – she can’t get an abortion in Ireland.
If she can afford it, she travels abroad for the treatment she needs. If she can’t, she takes the abortion pill in Ireland – and breaks the law.
She shouldn’t be denied the healthcare that is her right.
She is a woman who needs an abortion.
She is not a criminal.
It is like a covert operation – the flights, the times, who can you trust? You feel like a criminal.
Lily: “They export the problem”
Lily travelled to England in 2012 to have an abortion after she found out that the foetus she was carrying was not going to survive.
“Everyone has to make the best decision for them and their family, but let’s acknowledge that it is happening, instead of exporting the problem and thinking that it’s okay as long as the British hospitals keep accepting us and then saying that there is no abortion in Ireland.”
The number of years in prison that you’re threatened with if you have an illegal abortion in Ireland
Women leave Ireland each year to have an abortion in another country
The maximum fine medical staff pay for referring a woman for, or giving information about, abortion
I just held the envelope that contained our son’s remains... that was our funeral... [an] envelope handed over the door.
No way to mourn their loss
Gaye and Gerry Edwards were expecting a child when they were told that the foetus Gaye was carrying was missing part of its brain.
Gaye was 20 weeks’ pregnant. According to Irish law, she would have to carry the pregnancy to term, even though the foetus was not going to live.
“Gaye just couldn’t face going to work,” says Gerry. “At this stage, total strangers were putting their hands on the bump, and saying you must be so excited... To pretend would be wrong, but we couldn’t tell someone that the baby isn’t going to live… making them feel awkward.”
“I didn’t leave the house in the two weeks between diagnosis and termination,” says Gaye. “What were people going to say to me? The isolation was very pervasive.”
Gaye and Gerry couldn’t carry on. They booked a flight to England and had the termination abroad.
They chose to have the ashes couriered to them in Ireland – an option not always given to families. But doing this meant not having the chance to properly mourn their loss.
A funeral in an envelope
“Joshua’s remains arrived during the day,” says Gerry. “The estate was empty as people were at work. It was a big jiffy envelope and [it] didn’t dawn on me what it was. Gaye could see the delivery van and had figured it out and Gaye broke down and I was trying to be normal for the delivery man.”
“I just held the envelope that contained our son’s remains... that was our funeral... a f***ing envelope handed over the door… If we had continued in our hospital, we could have been under the same care, our families could have seen him, we could have waked him, he could have had a funeral. We felt alone. There was no one to talk to, no one understood.”
© Amnesty International / Eugene Langan
Ireland - change your abortion law
A sister, forced to stay pregnant. A friend, made to risk her life. A doctor, too afraid to treat her patient. A woman, who has to leave Ireland.
These are all consequences of Ireland’s abortion law – one of the most restrictive in the world. In Ireland, abortion is only allowed if you’re in immediate danger of dying. In all other cases, it’s strictly banned. Yet, it’s legal to travel abroad for an abortion.
This made me feel like an outcast… We did the best we could in horrible circumstances for our daughter.
Gerry and Gaye, Lily, Orla and Cerys have all told us what the impact of the abortion law is. Isn’t it time Ireland changed it?