Speaking out about abortion

On Saturday September 5th 2015, as part of Amnesty International Ireland’s “My Body, My Rights” event, I told my story.: in 2006, I traveled to the Netherlands for an abortion. (Abortion is all but completely illegal in Ireland, thanks in large part to the 8th amendment of our constitution which equates the rights of a foetus with those of the person carrying it.)

I spoke knowing that that same week, Róisín Ingle was also to publicly tell her own story. I wrote a piece for the Irish Times: You Don’t Talk About Abortion in Ireland. But I Have To. There was a flurry of press but they soon realised what we knew: it was really nothing to do with us. In fact, the story is the support we and others have received. People who have never spoken out before, calling for compassion. The anti reaction has been vocal and vicious, but from such a tiny minority that it’s clear Ireland has shifted in its views, it’s just been shamed into silence.

I’ve documented some of my experiences since speaking out below, but the pieces that sum it up best are here: 

Would You Force Someone to Remain Pregnant Against Their Will? My Irish Times piece about the real questions we need to ask.

Another piece for the Irish Times: Online Abuse Eats Away at You.

Stop, Look, Listen – your Safe Cross Code for talking about Repeal.

Repeal – on antichoice abuse and underhand tactics.

You Just Might Be The Bad Guys – on what, if you argue against reproductive choice, you must accept that you are for.


This has been my message: we have faces, we have names; we are people you like, maybe even love. We are as good and kind as anyone else and we deserve to be heard.

A minimum of 10 women a day still leave for Britain or elsewhere to get the medical care that they need. If they can afford it. If they can travel. If they are well enough. Others must take pills ordered illegally online, without a doctor’s supervision. Or do unspeakable things, at unspeakable risk, in a bid to end it themselves.Or be forced to continue a pregnancy against their will.
I’m not attempting to change anyone’s deep seated beliefs. I’m simply telling my story. This is not about me – it’s about the hundreds of thousands of women (and, of course, transgender and non binary people) who live in Ireland under our ridiculous laws. Some are in crisis today. You know them. You just may not know that you do.

Let’s end the stigma. Let’s trust women. Repeal the 8th amendment.



738AM Podcast – chatting to Andrew Mangan about 2015 (including telling my story and the aftermath) here.

Kathy Sheridan interviews myself and Róisín Ingle here.

My speech from the start of Abortion Rights Campaign’s March for Choice can be viewed here.

“I am that witch” – my first piece for Headstuff is here.

Times Irish News interview on Irish women tweeting the Taoiseach about periods here.

BBC World News interview with Gráinne Maguire on tweeting the Taoiseach can be heard here.


Selected commentary:

The X-ile Project and New York Times piece on it.

The first piece, by Carol Hunt (who was also on the My Body, My Rights panel).

Róisín Ingle: Why I Need to Share My Abortion Story.

Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times

Una Mullally, Irish Times

Dr. Robert Grant, Irish Times (“Phrase Abortion on Demand has dishonest edge”)

Fintan O’Toole Irish Times (“…the detritus of the ecstatic picnic of theocracy’s final fling”)

Colette Browne on why the Sydney Rose speaking out was so important.

Dr. Ciara Kelly, Irish Independent

Lynn Enright, The Pool (March for Choice coverage.)

Sali Hughes, The Pool 

The Journal 

Times UK (Marian Keyes lends her support.)


Thank you for reading.