They said they could not do an abortion. I said, ‘You can leave me now to die. I don’t want to live in this world anymore’

The woman refused an abortion says she was raped but did not know she was pregnant until she arrived in Ireland

Kitty Holland interviewed a young woman who was refused an abortion and later had her pregnancy delivered by Caesarean section under the terms of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act. She discusses the implications and the questions it raises.

Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 06:19

The young woman who says she was raped, refused an abortion and later had her pregnancy delivered by Caesarean section says she was initially told she could have an abortion at 24 weeks but that this subsequently changed.

In an interview with The Irish Times, she said she felt she had “no choice”.

“Yes, I would have preferred an abortion,” she said. “I was told the only way to end the pregnancy at this point would be a Caesarean . . . They said wherever you go in the world, the United States, anywhere, at this point it has to be a Caesarean.”

The softly spoken young woman, a migrant who looks about four years younger than her age, said she had spent three weeks in hospital and it “was all suffering”.

She spent two weeks in hospital being assessed by “many” psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses and obstetricians before the Caesarean section was performed on her this month. She was discharged a week later.

She tells how she arrived in the State this year and it was at a medical assessment that she found out she was pregnant.

“I told them this was very difficult to bear . . . I felt it would be a reminder of what happened in my country.

“I was raped in my country. I did not know I was pregnant until I came here.”

Sitting in a coffee shop, the thin, fragile woman says the nurse who carried out the initial pregnancy test said she could go to another clinic where a second test would be done.

She says she was referred to the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), where her pregnancy was confirmed.

“It was very difficult for me. I cried. I said I am not capable of going through with this. I said I could die because of this... They said to me abortion was not legal here, but people like me are sent to England for abortions . . . I asked to go and they said they would have to arrange the documents and that could take six weeks.”

She says she was sent to a hospital for a scan to determine the gestation of the pregnancy.

“They said it is okay because I was eight weeks and four days. After that day I hoped they were going to help me. I was shown documents that were filled in, and I understood that the process was under way.”

Over the following weeks, she says, she had a number of meetings at the IFPA and though the process seemed to be in train she was told some weeks later that the estimated cost of travelling to England, having the abortion and possible overnight accommodation could be over €1,500. An individual in the IFPA, she says, told her the State would not fund the costs.

“In my culture it is a great shame to be pregnant if not married . . . I didn’t even know what [the medic] was saying to me.

“I said to her, ‘I could die because of this pregnancy. I am prepared to kill myself’.”

At this stage she was 16 weeks’ pregnant.

“I said we’re getting too far, and she said, no, in England they carry out abortions up to 28 weeks . . . She said ‘that is not the problem. The problem is the money’. This was the final thing for me. I cried.”