‘I was very angry. I felt let down, maltreated’

NONE of the 13 women interviewed by Human Rights Watch wanted to be identified, even though all had told friends and family about the abortion and had received support and understanding.

The women interviewed described feelings of isolation and shame, and their fear of public disapproval.

Sarah B talked of the “shame factor” and being “terrified of people judging me”. She also spoke of her anger at being made to feel like a criminal by her country.

Aisling J had an abortion abroad after a scan conducted in another European country showed that the foetus she was carrying had spina bifida and hydrocephalus and could not survive.

She recounted several obstacles she experienced accessing diagnostic tests in Ireland during the early stage of her pregnancy .

“I was very angry. I felt let down, maltreated,” she said.

Siobhán G was pregnant with twins when she discovered that both had fatal birth defects.

“I was forced to leave home and do everything in secrecy... I was made to feel that I was doing something wrong.”

Mary H ended her pregnancy in Britain after antenatal tests showed that the foetus had Edwards syndrome, which leads to severe physical and mental disabilities.

“I was all over the place... Then (after an initial visit to an Irish clinic) I was on my own. I had to contact the place, make my own travel arrangements, hotel arrangements.”

Aoife C, who is from a rural part of Ireland, was almost 28 weeks’ pregnant when she finally had an abortion in Britain and blamed a lack of information for having the termination so late in her pregnancy.

“Information wasn’t easily available... it was really hard to make the right connections,” she said.

All the women interviewed for the report said costs associated with travelling was their most immediate and urgent concern once they had decided to have an abortion.

Sarah B went to Britain for an abortion when she was a student and part-time waitress. “First and foremost was the money thing, I was so broke, I was up to my eyeballs in debt.”

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