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Fri May 25, 2018, 06:29 PM

If women refuse to tell the truth about their abortions in Ireland, we'll never win bodily autonomy

From "The Independent" If women refuse to tell the truth about their abortions in Ireland, weíll never win bodily autonomy from the state

The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution is the reason I had to leave Ireland and travel to the UK when I needed an abortion. I was 18, in a relationship and the contraception we were using failed. The Eighth Amendment was voted for in 1983 after contraception had been made legal in Ireland in 1980. The conservative forces, accustomed to locking away women and girls like me in mother and baby homes and Magdalene laundries, were worried that abortion would become legal too.

So they put pressure on politicians to insert a clause into the constitution which would make abortion legal only if there is a direct threat to a pregnant personís life, ruling out abortion being made legal in cases of rape or in instances of fatal foetal abnormality, while compromising the wellbeing and medical consent of all pregnant people in Ireland.

The Eighth Amendment has caused suffering for hundreds of thousands of women all over Ireland. I know I am one of at least 170,000 who travelled to the UK and gave an Irish address. Not all of us do, some give a friend or family memberís UK address or some travel to the Netherlands. Women who until very recently didnít share their stories.

To change attitudes and laws when abortion is illegal, it takes women standing up and telling their truth Ė that they had an abortion. With abortion having been so heavily stigmatised here in Ireland, it has taken a lot of courage to do so, especially when having one at home (which people do by ordering pills online) currently carries a 14-year criminal sentence.

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