Members of the Citizens Assembly vote on the Eighth Amendment in April
In The Times Ireland edition.
Ellen Coyne wrote about how a woman, referred to as Niamh, wanted an abortion in Ireland 16 years ago but was warned by a counsellor she might go to jail if she did so.
She was told this by a counsellor working for Life pregnancy counselling service in Cork city.
Ms Coyne explained how Life changed its name to Anew in 2015 and how it receives annual funding from the HSE.
From Ms Coyne’s report:
“I sat down and [the counsellor] said, ‘well you do know now, your baby has a heartbeat’. And, ‘you can’t even think about an abortion, that would be murder’. And she said, ‘I understand you’ve talked to loads of people, and one of those people now could go to the gardaí and tell them that you’ve had an abortion. And if they find out, you’ll spend years in prison’,” Niamh said.
She was so scared of being arrested and not being able to get a job that she continued the pregnancy. “I was forced into it. It was horrible.”
Life changed its name to Anew in 2015. Like Cura, it receives annual funding from the HSE crisis pregnancy programme. Niamh said that there was Southern Health Board literature on the tables and walls. Both Anew and Cura are anti-abortion, but do not clearly advertise their ethos. Cura also receives funding from the Catholic Church.
“I remember going to them and thinking they were funded by the HSE so they must be legit,” Niamh said. “Now I can see it clearly, I am so, so angry about it.”
…Niamh’s story was featured as part of the citizens’ assembly review of abortion laws this year. She said she was conscious that there were anti-abortion extremists who argue that if the counsellor had not deceived her, she would not have her eldest son.
“But I’m lucky, because I love my son,” she said. “There are other women out there that do not love their children. Some women look at a child that they didn’t want, and that’s not OK.
“And it’s also not OK for a child to grow up in a relationship where they are not wanted. That harms society. It’s just about indentured servitude at the end of the day, creating this class system of vulnerable people having children early.”
…Niamh’s son is 16 years old and understands what happened to his mother when she was pregnant with him. “He has said that he understands my decisions. He also feels very angry. It makes him panic thinking that that could happen to him and his girlfriend or friend even now,” she said. “And I am very angry. Nothing has changed. It’s the same shit over and over again.”