I Am The One In Nine

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Elsa Crowley

 

I don’t know if this goes against the politics of Broadsheets or if it would be of any interest. I wrote my journey around abortion, or for that matter the lack of abortion facilities in Ireland and the need to travel. I would appreciate it being shared.

I am tired of there being stigma, judgement and misunderstanding surrounding something that is happening in our country, EVERYDAY. The majority turn a blind eye because it isn’t happening to them, so yeah lets just let England deal with our “little problems” instead of offering support and safety to those who need it .

It was something I had never really thought much about, abortion. I assumed a lot about the people who had them but I never knew the statistics, I never really understood why it was illegal in Ireland and I certainly never thought I would be having one.

I thought I was immune from pregnancy, that it would never ever happen to me and well it did and my world crumbled. I used to hear my friends say from around 17 onwards ” oh if I get pregnant I will just hop over to England and get the abortion tablet, sorted”. Part of me always thought it would be a simple solution almost like a safety net, a back up plan. I was wrong.

I sat in the doctor’s office and made her do five tests, all dipping in clear and coming out positive. I always laughed at those scenes in movies, you know the ones where the main character gets bad news and everything goes muffled and slows down and fades away and its like a spinning camera sensation, well that is honestly what I felt in that moment staring at those 5 tests.

I think it was clear from my face that it was not planned, so my amazing doctor gave me some advice and talked through all my options, have the baby, give it up for adoption, or travel to England and have an abortion. I knew the first two would be impossible for me to do. I was innocent to the world and I was not set up in life to have a child. I did not want to fall into the system and be trapped in life. So I made the best decision I could with the options I had.

I didn’t tell anyone at first, just my boyfriend at the time. He was supportive and rallied around me and travelled with me to England. The clinic I went to was small and discreet and the people who worked in there were some of the sweetest, most understanding people I could have hoped to meet in this situation. Coming from Ireland where you feel like you are carrying a dirty secret, to this clinic where everyone else was in your shoes or knew the feeling, it calmed me.

I was under 8 weeks pregnant and so was given a simple procedure of a tablet orally, followed 6 hours later by suppositories in my cervix as the final dose of the drugs required. Going to England was a struggle as we had to scrape the money together and borrow from a friend of mine to help us and we just managed to gather enough to stay one night. Now in normal scenarios from the abortion procedure under 8 weeks the oral tablet is taken on the first day and you are to come back the following day and receive the suppositories. I was leaving the following morning so the clinic were kind enough to accommodate my travel arrangements and a nurse stayed late to administer the second dose.

I have heard from other women that the pain level is different for everyone, for me it was excruciating. But in that budget hotel room, right by the airport my abortion was complete. I was exhausted and travelling back took a toll on me. I slept for about three days in and out of pain, bleeding for about two weeks after. Coming back to Ireland was heartbreaking and one thing that stung me the most was the morning we arrived back my boyfriend went off to work, leaving me lying in bed, crying alone. Realising that as much as he was a part of what my body went through, he could never know the pain, the sadness. He got to step out of the apartment and go off to his life, leaving all the worry and sadness with me in that room. I was so jealous of him for that, for being able to leave me and join the world again, no one the wiser. For me, I felt like I had blood trailing after me when I went out in public, like everyone knew what I had done.

This stigma, this stain on my conscious followed me for a very long time after the abortion. My boyfriend got over it outwardly and quickly went back to his life before the pregnancy. I on the other hand was stuck, unable to feel what I needed to feel for fear of judgement and scrutiny in this country. I slowly opened up to close friends and I can now say three years on that I am no longer ashamed of my decision. Quite the contrary, I am proud, proud of every single woman who has travelled the same journey I have. Proud of their decision , their courage, their resilience. I am a part of a secret club in Ireland, a club hidden in the shadow of a over bearing government and a “ignorance is bliss” mentality, with a religion that has women grasped firmly by the ovaries.

This secret club, these women warriors, they took a stand on the 27th of September. We walked out of the shadows and into the sun, quite literally that day. I felt such pride marching with 5,000 other people, men and women, young and old, who care about women’s health, not just physically but mentally too. They marched and waved banner and made noise for all the days I stayed silent, for the days all of us travelled in silence and came home to silence.

I don’t want to be silent anymore. I am standing up to repeal the 8th amendment in Ireland.

Thank you for reading my story and I hope it has broadened your view on what all these women go through, silently and by themselves.

The Silence I Am Breaking (Elsa Crowley)

In the first three months of last year there were 1,667 abortions performed in Britain on Irish women. During the same period, there were 13,894 births in Ireland. By that ratio, one in nine Irish pregnancies end in a British abortion. (IrishHealth.com).

72 thoughts on “I Am The One In Nine

  1. Ciara

    Thank you for this essay Elsa. No one should have to go through this experience just to terminate a pregnancy. I stand with you.

    1. A.Tomás

      I understand why people want abortion clinics here. WOMEN ARE ENTITLED TO CHOICE. (my disclaimer)

      But, what makes them think they would feel different? What makes them think it would be less expensive here?

      “Going to England was a struggle as we had to scrape the money together”,

      – I find it hard to believe that so many Irish women are not able to afford a Ryanair flight. Must be thousands who have never left the country before.

      “Coming from Ireland …coming from Ireland … coming from Ireland” – this writer seems to just have copied and pasted every other blog and cliché about abortion ever written and then claimed they have never been written.

      “a religion that has women grasped firmly by the ovaries.”?

      “stigma”?

      “fear of judgement”?

      “I slowly opened up to close friends”, well why would you open up to anyone else about your own body other than close friends or family? Do you think British women who have abortions tell everybody about them?

      “as much as he was a part of what my body went through, he could never know the pain, the sadness……
      … I went out in public, like everyone knew what I had done.”

      – I don’t mean to be cruel but that is your subjective feeling and it would not really make a difference if you had the abortion in Ireland. The only thing that would change is the air fare.

      Breaking the silence? Give me a break!

      1. Mike

        Mate give her a break ffs, no need for a lit & deb soc deconstruction. She’s had an abortion – some people just find it very hard.

        1. Soundings

          I see where AT is coming from. Would it make any difference if a woman travelled from say Castlebar to Galway or Tullamore to Dublin or Dublin to Liverpool? There would still be a journey, still “time to yourself” and even before any journey, there would naturally be worry and mixed feelings.

          The piece above is simply (in a good sense) written.

          I would have liked Elsa to explain (a) why wasn’t the perception that abortion was just like taking an anadin enough to overcome what she describes as a stigma, what was she thinking, was she looking at babies and wondering what if, was it the “abortion is murder and you’re going to hell” position of the church and some pro-lifers, or was it that the State ultimately was forcing her to leave (b) what support her boyfriend would ideally have given. I think many men would think accompanying a woman and hand-holding would be all that was needed, plainly not, and Elsa might explain what she was looking for, what questions would it have been nice to have been asked, what issues would it have been good to discuss, what specific acts would have been welcomed but which the boyfriend didn’t carry out in her case, what did she need to hear (c) the conversion from shame to pride, could she shine more light on how that happened

          The one in nine statistic is sobering.

          1. Anne

            I hope Elsa doesn’t explain anything to you.
            The question I think you should be asking yourself, is do you think it’s appropriate to be quizzing someone on an experience that’s been difficult and their quizzing them on their private relationship with their boyfriend.

            “Plainly not”
            Muppet.

      2. Clampers Outside!

        Standing waiting for a bus or hopping in a car is NOT THE SAME AS AN AIRPORT OR PORT !

        F**K OFF with your snidey sh*te… seriously, that whoooooooosh over head wasn’t your child flinging lego bricks at you, it’s the whole story in your ludicrously mangled attempt to deconstruct it.

        Pathetic.

        1. A.Tomás

          In fact, the abortion clinic in Belfast was being thanked by the pro-choice groups for making abortion accessible for women in the Republic, yet it takes longer to get to Belfast than to Liverpool.

          So would abortion clinics in Dublin really make any difference?

          I mean, not to women in Cork or Limerick, who would have to travel the same difference and stay in a hotel. They’d have to be brave I suppose.

          Also, wouldn’t the procedure be the same? Having to wait six hours, it being cold, etc.

          It would be exactly the same?

          Then they’d be kicking up a fuss about “stigma” to account for their own feelings and to be thought of as victims or “brave” when most people really don’t care, it’s their choice.

          1. Anne

            Some people care. A lot I would think. Speak for yourself you ignoramus.

            Your logic is flawed at best and you’re being purposely ignorant at worst.

            Of course it would make a difference if women didn’t have to skulk off to the U.K.
            You’re not really that dumb to think it wouldn’t make a difference.
            You might do well to show some respect, considering I suspect you won’t ever find yourself ever in the same position.

          2. Penitenziagite

            Why do you think there would be clinics only in Dublin and not also in Cork and Limerick, Galway, Waterford and Athlone?
            And why do you feel the need to be so snidey sneery? Can you not just respect other people’s experience? If you are not interested in it, can you not just skip past it?

          3. Soundings

            You’re really not getting the Broadsheet paradigm, are you. The site picks a topic and folks comment, some supportive, some not, some sharing, some taking, some questioning, some having the craic. Get over it.

    2. A.Tomás

      Also, the “One in ….” was used by victims of paedophilia i.e. One In Four, so its not really appropriate to use it regarding travelling 30 mins to receive treatment in the UK.

    1. Lorcan Nagle

      The commonly reported statistic is 10 women travel a day to the UK for an abortion, but that’s based on the number of women who give an Irish address to the clinic or hospital. It’s believed that many more give the address of where they’re staying in the UK or a false one.

      It also doesn’t include the smaller number of women who travel to mainland Europe instead of the UK

    2. Caroline

      It seems to assume that all pregnancies end either in a live birth or abortion abroad. Obviously that is not the case.

  2. cormacjones

    “I don’t know if this goes against the politics of Broadsheets”. You must not know broadsheet too well if you think this would be against their “politics”!

  3. Wayne Carr

    “…performed in Britain on Irish women.” Does that mean Irish woman living in Ireland, or just Irish women who might be living in Britain?

    1. Sharrow

      It means women who have the procedure dine in the UK who give a residing address as being in Ireland.

      It’s not just the cost of the air fare it is also the cost at the clinic, the cost of the hotel, time of work, childcare for some women as well.

      The abortion pills should be made legal for use here, her own Dr should have been able to prescribe them.

  4. Shane

    I went through this with my girlfriend many years ago, it messed her head up not because of the decision and not because of the procedure but because of the stigma upon returning. Well done to you and thank you for your essay, i hope it sticks in some peoples minds and hearts.

    1. Alfred E. Neumann

      Sorry about that, Shane. How did the stigma arise? Were friends and family not supportive?

  5. rotide

    Much preferred this to the previous few essays on this subject. Well wrttien, direct and honest without any overegging. fair play to you.

    I do have a genuine question however. I understand that it was a genuinely upsetting experience for the OP and the many others who go through it. However, apart from the financial pressure and the neccesitiy to make what is a pretty awful return trip, how would abortion being availble here change anything else?

    The OP talks about the stigma and shame but surely this stigma and shame would be unchanged regardless of where the procedure was carried out? The emotional impact would be the same regardless of the location.

    Obviously not having to travel lessens the immediate stress and emotional trauma and yes, this is an option that should be freely available for women in this state but pro lifers would surely make the above point.

      1. TK ickle

        Seems a valid enough point. Even were it allowed in Dublin from tomorrow onwards it would be a good few years for the stigma to dissipate.

        I remember a time when a child out of wedlock was a huge thing.

        1. Anne

          Yeah, and it’d dissipate as you say, if allowed.
          It’ll also be less stigmatised by brave women talking about their experience.

          1. Lorcan Nagle

            Rotide has a track record of commenting on abortion threads, claiming to be pro-choice but being embarassed by some activist or other, that Broadsheet shouldn’t post so much about the topic, and so on.

            Quite frankly, at this point I don’t believe his/her claims of being Pro-choice at all.

          2. Alfred E. Neumann

            Fair enough. I am weirdly unable to keep track of people from one post to the next.

            It’s still a good question, though. It’s hard to see how the stigma will lessen when the clinic is in Ireland. It improves lots of other things, but it certainly increases the chance of bumping into your aunt.

            There will also be protesters outside, etc. The arguments aren’t going to stop when abortion is legal. I some ways, I think, they will intensify.

          3. Elsa

            I understand the stigma will never fully dissipate. I was in this city where the clinic was, I had to wander around for 6 hours before I could get the final part of the procedure, my hotel ( all we could afford) was out by the airport, about an hour away, leaving us walking around a city in November, cold and also to put it out there, the tissue was detaching from my uterine wall. I could not go home, to my room, with my bed and feel comfortable and safe. I was waiting for the next dosage so all that tissue could leave my body in a toilet in a budget hotel by the airport. So I want a safe place for women in Ireland, where they can go home and feel just a little bit of comfort and familiarity through this awful experience. Why I wrote this is for people to hear the journey, one woman’s journey. Each one is going to be different. I understand there will still be negative views here if it is legalised but at least the women going through it can have some comfort in going home and having their abortion in a safe environment so maybe it will be easier on them emotionally in the long term.

        1. rotide

          Can’t keep anything from you Lorcan, you know all.

          Just like the people who have nailed me as a mossad shill and a web summit employee.

          It’s a wonder the garda don’t just give up and hand over all investigative matters to you really.

    1. Corvo

      Making it legal would surely reduce the stigma. Not straight away of course, but the majority of the voting public saying in a referendum that abortion should be legal would be a powerful statement. As long as it’s banned by the constitution there’s always going to be a stigma.

      1. rotide

        The argument to legalise abortion should not be one of stigma. There will always be a certain amount of stigma attached to it as there is a certain amount of stigma attached to a lot of other things that are legal and semi legal.

  6. Elsa

    Thank you for your supportive words, everyone. I hope this is an eye opener for people who don’t know the journey women go through.

  7. Gerry Johns

    You’re very defensive Anne.

    Elsa’s post – on the surface – appears to be well-written.

    However I’ve gone over it a few more times and it’s just like all the others.

    1. Gerry Johns

      Sorry – unfinished post.

      Like any other abortion revelation it’s self-serving, narcissistic and cold. And there isn’t the fall-back of the hard case [rape victim, fatal fetal abnormality etc] that can often sway those on the fence. This was purely an abortion of convenience.

      Sorry if that’s not what you want to hear.

      1. Anne

        This was purely an abortion of convenience.

        Yes, and?

        Why would I, or anyone not want to hear that?
        I’m all for women doing what’s best for their lives.

        I suggest you empty your wee brain of your own prejudices and read it a few more times.

  8. Penitenziagite

    I was married to a nasty abusive man. Sex was very sporadic, almost non-existent, as if his coldness was another way of controlling me – after isolating me from friends, family and work colleagues, he also denied me any human warmth at home.
    Nevertheless, on one of the very rare occasions, I still managed to get pregnant. We already had a 15-year old son and I was trying to figure out how to leave. There was no way I was going to start to bring up another child that would tie me to my husband, some way or another, for another 16 years.
    Luckily enough, I was living abroad, in a city where abortion was available on demand. I told nobody, rang the clinic, went down and had the procedure done in a morning. I bought the antibiotics they prescribed on the way home, bled heavily for a couple of days, felt miserable for a while, told nobody and mostly forgot about it. We got separated about a year later.
    I am so glad I did not have to travel to another country, that I could get the procedure done by medical professionals in a safe clinical environment, that the procedure was not made any more difficult for me than it had to be.
    Years later, I began to speak to close friends about it, not asking for pity or expecting to be thought “brave”, but because I feel this is a matter we should be able to speak freely about and that we shouldn’t have to hide, and being honest about it is the way to eliminate the stigma that still remains attached to it, even where it is legal. I was not really surprised to find that many of them had also had elective abortions, almost a quarter of the women I spoke to. Some had been with their partner, some with a friend, few, apart from myself, alone. None regretted it. The ones who hadn’t needed the procedure had mostly had to consider it at least once, and none condemn my decision.
    So this is a thing a lot of women do, including many of the women you know. Whether you like it or not. Whether you think they should have control over their own bodies or not. Whether they were raped or their own health is at risk or not, whether they are carrying a non-viable foetus or not. Whether or not you think they should be punished for having had sex. So you might as well get understand it, accept it and get over it. Making it difficult to obtain an abortion won’t stop women from getting one, and neither will shaming us, stigmatizing us, condescending to us or wishing rape on us. And at the very least, like any procedure you might have to contemplate yourself in your lifetime, it should be performed in a safe, legal clinic at the most a couple of hours from your home.
    That is all.

      1. Jupiter

        You got knocked up after having consentual sex. Didnt want mammy or daddy to find out as you were not married. So decided to abort the child….easy decison as the child has no voice.
        Abortion is totally wrong under your circumstances. You took the cowards way out and are looking for people to be supportive. I find it horrendous that you would post something like this and look for pity.

      2. Penitenziagite

        Thank you Elsa, for telling your story. Sorry you had to go through such a bad time.
        It’s what we get for being harlots, though, eh?

  9. Penitenziagite

    And some of us engage with said opinions. I believe that is also part of the “Broadsheet paradigm” (I have been reading and commenting here for several years now, you condescending twit).

    1. Penitenziagite

      (sorry, this wasn’t meant to be here. I am not hitting the target with the “send” button today)

      1. Soundings

        Hi Penitenziagate, maybe I was the target of your reply.

        I didn’t see your long comment above and your own story before making my comment, I only saw the “if you don’t like the post, pass on and don’t comment”, which I still think is not what this site is about.

        Sorry, though, I’ve read your own story and understand why you might be sensitive, it’s a tough story and you appear to be in a better place today, because of your decisions and your actions. Good luck to you. I suppose the famous stigma reduces when people you respect tell you it’s okay, I see where you and Elsa are coming from. Peace and love.

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