‘How will I find a thousand euro in two weeks?” The mother of three looked at me with a mixture of panic and despair. “We have Communion coming up and absolutely no money as it is . . .”
This woman’s face stays with me. It is the face of many Irish women as they learn the cost of an abortion in England. It is a face injured by the silent bite of austerity, while already coping with a job loss or mortgage default and now an unwanted pregnancy.
Affluent Irish women have always had abortions. They continue to exercise their right to travel. However, for many Irish women the right to travel now counts for very little. It is the feasibility of travel that is important and this is substantially determined by the availability of money.
Desperation, always a feature of Irish abortion, is now the dominant emotion felt by many women. Ask yourself how would you access €1,000 in less than two weeks without telling anyone the reason you needed the money?
The complete absence of any of the voices of the more than 150,000 Irish women who have had abortions was a striking feature of the Oireachtas hearings last month into proposed abortion legislation as a result of the European Court of Human Rights A, B and C ruling. The lack of a public voice obscures the fact that abortion is not a rare experience for Irish women.
I often wonder how many GPs actually do referrals for abortion,
legally they can, but how many actually do, or do they push women towards positive options or the IFPA, but is it know that over 1/3 of women who travel to the UK contact BPAS themselves with out going through services here first.