Irish woman live-tweets journey for abortion in England

Ireland's abortion ban forces thousands of women to travel to England every year

Charlotte England
Saturday 20 August 2016 13:31 BST
A pro-choice protest in Belfast in April 2016
A pro-choice protest in Belfast in April 2016 (Getty Images)

An Irish women who is live-tweeting her journey to England to have an abortion has attacked premier Enda Kenny for forcing women to go into "exile".

The woman and a friend who is travelling with her said they “stand in solidarity” with other women from Ireland who have had to make the trip.

The women launched the Twitter feed at 5am on Saturday morning, shortly before making a "chilly" dawn journey to board a 6.30am flight across the Irish sea.

They described it as an account of “two women, one procedure, 48 hours away from home".

Abortion is illegal in the Republic of Ireland unless the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman, and it carries a sentence of up to life in prison.

Because the Eighth Amendment in the constitution gives a foetus equal rights to the woman carrying it, there is no exception for a woman who has been raped or who is carrying a foetus so severely disabled that it has no chance of surviving outside the womb.

As a result of the law, thousands of Irish women travel to Great Britain for abortions every year.

Women who have made the journey before described it as stressful and upsetting.

”My work colleague became pregnant and I travelled to England with her for the termination," one woman told The Independent. "We had to travel back on the same day as the procedure because we couldn’t afford to stay over. My friend almost fainted in the airport toilets and the journey home was horrendous, she was in such pain and discomfort."

Another woman said she would have committed suicide if she had not been able to raise the money to travel to England.

Many women cannot afford to make the journey. In addition to the cost of travel, Irish women are not entitled to free NHS England abortions and must pay privately for the procedure when they arrive.

Abortion is also illegal in Northen Ireland, despite it being part of the UK.

In April a 21-year-old woman was prosecuted in a Belfast court for taking abortion pills which she ordered online when she became accidentally pregnant at 19 and could not afford to travel to Great Britain.

When her housemates found blood-stained clothes and foetal remains in a bin, they reported her to the police and she was arrested.

After the woman was given a suspended sentence, three other women handed themselves into a police station in Derry and asked to be prosecuted for also having had illegal abortions.

In November 2015, Belfast High Court ruled that the abortion ban is incompatible with human rights. However, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to keep the ban regardless.

In 2012 Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist, died from complications related to a miscarriage after being refused an abortion at a hospital in Galway, Republic of Ireland, sparking pro-choice protests across the country.

Recently Irish women tweeted their periods to Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, with one explaining: "Since we know how much the Irish state cares about our reproductive parts... I think it's only fair that women of Ireland let our leader Enda Kenny know the full details of our menstrual cycle."

The two women live-tweeting their journey to England said they would be open to answering more questions later in the day, after the abortion had taken place.

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