Bríd Smith becomes first TD to speak publicly about her abortion

People Before Profit TD talks for first time publicly about abortion she had in the 1980s

Bríd Smith TD on her abortion: “The country tried to make women feel ashamed. I had a boyfriend who tried to make me feel ashamed and he quickly became an ex.”

Bríd Smith TD on her abortion: “The country tried to make women feel ashamed. I had a boyfriend who tried to make me feel ashamed and he quickly became an ex.”

 

“I had an abortion in the 1980s when I was in my twenties. I was never ashamed of that abortion,” People Before Profit TD told Kathy Sheridan on The Women’s Podcast

The theme of the conversation was shame and the way the emotion has been used to control women in Ireland and elsewhere for centuries.

“I was supported by family and friends,” said Smith, looking back on her experience which happened a couple of years after the Eighth Amendment , a constitutional ban on abortion, was introduced by referendum.

“The country tried to make women feel ashamed. I had a boyfriend who tried to make me feel ashamed and he quickly became an ex”

Smith, who was 27 at the time of her abortion, said she travelled to Liverpool by boat “to keep costs down” and stayed with a brother of a friend. On her return to Dublin on the early morning ferry, she was met by her sisters and they went “for a few scoops” in the early house in the Long Hall pub.

“I just didn’t want to be pregnant,” she said. “The more I talk to people about this the more I realise it’s part of normal life. People don’t realise how many people . . . have had terminations that they then don’t discuss. It strikes me the establishment is way behind the people. The Citizens' Assembly showed us that.”

When it comes to the campaign to repeal the Eighth amendment, she said “we’ve got a fight on our hands”.

Also contributing to the Walk of Shame Women’s Podcast, recorded last weekend on the Wonderlust stage at the Body & Soul Festival, were comedian Erin McGathy and abortion rights activist Lucy Watmough. McGathy was briefly married to high-profile TV writer Dan Harman, the creator of Rick & Morty and Community, and spoke of the way she was “shamed” after the break-up. “Our break-up was amicable but some of the headlines were ‘Young wife taking alimony even though they have no children’. I took no money.

Another comment was: “This is what happens when you marry women.” My weight goes up and down a lot and that’s another thing I was shamed for,” she said.

Watmough talked about her chaotic behaviour as a teenager which eventually led to her giving up alcohol and drugs a year ago. She described several mortifying “walks of shame” as a younger woman but said the biggest walk of shame she ever experienced was walking through Dublin Airport while coming home from having an abortion in England.

It’s illegal so “you’re hoping desperately nobody knows what you’ve done,” she said.

To listen to the full conversation go to iTunes, Soundcloud, irishtimes.com/podcasts, or your preferred podcast app

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