‘Today I no longer hang my head in shame’: Readers react to abortion vote

‘No woman should have to go through the trauma I had to go through’

A woman reacts on the result of yesterday’s referendum on liberalising abortion laws. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

A woman reacts on the result of yesterday’s referendum on liberalising abortion laws. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

 

Dozens of people wrote to The Irish Times liveblog on Saturday, telling their personal stories of abortion and giving their reaction to the news of a Yes result in the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment.

Thank you to everyone who wrote in - you can still send on your story here.

Below is a selection of some of the best so far.

Celine

Fantastic result today. Didn’t think it would mean so much to me personally after 24 years. Having to travel to London 24 years ago this May as a young student, the shame I carried for years was so difficult. I felt like a criminal having got a number written on a rolled up scrap of paper and returned to finish my final exams.

I now have four children but 24 years ago I was not in position to have a child. I knew instinctively I had made the only right decision for me yet the stigma and shame of leaving the country and not feeling I could tell anyone did cause me untold pain. So glad to see today that Ireland has really changed finally!!!

Joelle Braun

I went to Liverpool exactly two years ago after a fatal foetal abnormality diagnosis. I couldn’t vote yesterday as I’m not Irish. My partner did it for us three. My 3 year old boy marked yes!

I’m so relieved today that this won’t happen anymore for any woman/husband/partner/kids living here, no matter for which reason a woman chooses to terminate.

Thank you Irish people for these loving compassion you have just thrown at us!

Siobhan Dunne

Hi , I’m following this from Melbourne, Australia. I was devastated to not be able to make it home to vote but I’m so proud to be Irish today.

I believe ‘Savita’s Law’ is a fitting and well deserved name to progress our beautiful country and acknowledge all those who have suffered in the past.

Bronwyn Molony

I am overjoyed by this result. I came home last night after voting very dejected at the possibility we would lose and I was tense about how close I thought it was going to be.

The Irish people have spoken, and they said they believe in compassion and healthcare for women. I finally feel safe at the thought of being pregnant here.

What a day. History has been made: we repealed the eighth!!

Anonymous

This year, in February, I travelled to England, as I was seen as a criminal in my own country for making the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I wished I could have stayed at home and received the care that I did when I went abroad. But now, today is the day that all changes. I am not a criminal, I am simply a woman who was not ready or fit to be a mother and that is ok, I made the choice that was right for me and I do not regret it.

I cannot wait to have children one day, and I am so proud that my daughters will live in a country where they are loved and respected. It is extremely emotional and empowering and I can not describe how happy I am to know that my fellow women of Ireland will never need to cross the waters. I have never been prouder to call myself Irish. I thank everyone in Ireland for making this happen.

Members of the public gather at Dublin Castle for the results of the referendum on the 8th Amendment. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Members of the public gather at Dublin Castle for the results of the referendum on the 8th Amendment. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Ann

This is a very emotional and cathartic result for the country. I am proud of all those who campaigned and voted yes, thank you.

I suffered a miscarriage in 2005 while visiting Ireland on holidays, it has just occurred to me from what I have learned from this referendum that my rights and health were much more precarious in Ireland than if I had been in the UK where I live.

I am 49 now, I went to college in Dublin in the late 80s and lived in the UK since 1990. So I remember well the Ireland of no contraception, no divorce, of paedophile priests and anti-abortion (Emily O’Reilly’s book about the 1983 referendum is an insight to this Ireland).

So Ireland has come a long way. I still think Ireland has a little way to go to be a mature republic taking full responsibility for its own problems. I found the references to the UK abortion laws by both sides of the debate quite difficult to square with my experience of the UK. They were frequently repeating that the proposals in Ireland were not like those in the UK implying that the UK was the morally unacceptable face of abortion whilst in fact the UK were expertly and compassionately caring for Irish women. I have always found the UK to be a very civilised country, not something I would have always said about Ireland (until I learned more about the new face of Ireland from these recent referendums).

I imagine a number of those who voted ‘no’ suffered no less from these laws than others. But they maybe wanted to believe that their suffering was for some higher purpose, it being difficult to accept that they have been betrayed by an historically misguided and oppressive ideology of Church and State.

Erin Mullan

Savita’s father has requested the new law be called Savita’s law. What a wonderful and just idea. I still have trouble looking at her lovely face without tearing up.

I am a dual Irish-Canadian citizen who works as an abortion clinic counsellor in Canada. I am so delighted with this result. It is a tremendous victory not just for Irish women, but one that will inspire people everywhere as we work to provide access to safe abortion, a change that will save the health and lives of countless women.

Mark Quinn

I’m married and raising a family in Leicester. This result and the same sex marriage votes have convinced me Ireland now is a different country to the one I left in 2002 and a very different place to priest infested dark place of the 70s and 80s where I grew up.

I would now seriously consider moving back knowing my daughter’s welfare would receive the consideration it deserves.

Thank you Ireland for yesterday, you have made this expat prouder than any St Patrick’s Day or World Cup ever could.

Katie Harrington

Now that No has lost the vote, can they recalibrate their goals from keeping abortion illegal to reducing the number of abortions by reducing the number of crisis pregnancies that happen?

As talented fundraisers, they could commit to supporting rape crisis centres, providing free contraception, offering bursaries to struggling single mothers and so on. They could truly #loveboth.

Aidan Loftus

So overwhelmed with the results. It’s just amazing all the work and dedication all the Repeal groups put in to get the yes vote through.

I hope in the very near future nobody has to go through the barbaric torture my partner and I, family and people we know have experienced travelling to the UK. Fare play to all involved to repeal the 8th.

Margaret

A Yes vote will mean Ireland has finally grown up as a nation that now will respect all it’s citizens, growing up in the 60s for me its like emerging into the light from a long dark and secretive tunnel. Thank you everyone, very emotional.

Jill Scully

As both a young Irish woman and a doctor, this result takes a huge weight off my mind both for myself when I want to start a family, and the pregnant women I will care for. It is truly heartwarming to feel this supported today in Ireland!

Grace Gilbert

I’m so happy about YES. I used to say I AM a statistic but today I can happily say I WAS a statistic. As a woman who travelled to the UK 12 years ago and came home to no counselling or medical help after a traumatic experience that will never leave me. Today I can now turn to my daughter and proudly say that she will never have to suffer the way I did.

Thank you Ireland for making it a safe place for our daughters, sisters, nieces to grow up in, without shame, and disgrace, and finally, a world where doctors can now give you pain medication to help you recover from the worst decision any woman/mother will have to make in a lifetime, within the law, and no criminality.

Today I’m proud to say I’m free of the handcuffs I’ve had on for the past 12 years, of a sentence that I can now leave behind. #proudstrongirishwomen”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Minister for Children Katherine Zappone at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Minister for Children Katherine Zappone at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

A Lynch

I am an Irish immigrant living in Scotland since 2000. In 1988, as a scared teenager, I travelled to London to terminate a pregnancy. It took time to get over the shame I felt. It’s been even longer letting go of the anger.

Today, I am bursting with pride. Thank you my fellow citizens. I should never have doubted you. Thank you, too, to a UK that welcomed me all those years ago and looked after me. I will be forever grateful.

Tom Lordan

This is not just a Yes for women’s health and autonomy (though primarily it is that), but also a Yes to the present and future leaders, builders and innovators of Ireland, for whom gender equality is a crucial component of an increasingly just society.

Jennifer

15 years ago this Summer I travelled to Bristol to have my baby boy Alex. He had Fatal Foetal abnormalities and my health was at risk as I have Chrohns disease. I could not bring him home because I could not get a birth certificate.

No women should have to go through the trauma I had to go through. It has been terrible to see no change in 15 years but so delighted there is change now. I was a young, frightened, 25-year-old who was frightened to tell my story. So emotional Ireland has had the chance to speak.

John Rogers

As an Irishman I am relieved and proud to see how many men seem to have voted YES. But today is for mná na hÉireann. Our women are kind, smart, tough, proud and beautiful. Not a time for euphoria but this is a fine day for our country.

To see my home county of Leitrim voted YES leaves me in bits.

Nick Winters

The atmosphere today in Dublin castle was that of an appetite for change. Today, we satiated that appetite and witnessed democracy in action. We voted yes to marriage equality in 2015 and now in 2018 we voted yes to the right to choose to have an abortion. The landslide victory for the Yes sides of both referenda reflects how we as a nation have matured, grown and is gradually shattering the shackles of our conservative and Catholic-dominated past.

The result of the referendum is not only a win for women’s rights but is also a victory for secularism. Perhaps now we can also start a conversation on euthanasia, another issue that revolves around bodily autonomy but would surely be as divisive and as polarising. Let us move towards a fairer and more just Ireland and become a shining beacon for secularism.

Jenny Campbell

I am from Northern Ireland and I am so proud of the Irish people that they have taken this decision. Irish women have long been fighting for the right to contraception, the right to proper and respectful treatment and control over their own bodies. Now they have won that right. It’s about time. Ireland has changed enormously over my lifetime and now shows a wonderful joyous respect for humanity that the generations of repression from religious ideology had so suppressed. Now let’s get the North free too.

Anonymous

I am so relieved that the yes vote won. I will never forget that at least woman died because women in Ireland were denied the option of a termination for non-viable pregnancies. Women’s health and women’s rights have been finally acknowledged. I am eternally grateful to all the women and men who campaigned for this referendum; I am in awe of their energy, determination, commitment to this cause. I am thankful to all the people who voted yes. I am especially thankful to those who travelled from overseas, and the people who helped Irish citizens to return home , for this important event. I live in Vancouver, Canada, and have lived outside Ireland for more than 18 mounts and did not have the opportunity to cast a vote. As a health care professional I feel great relief knowing that women in Irland with crisis pregnancies, or who experience a crisis during a pregnancy, will be offered evidence based care and their lives will no longer at risk because of the restrictive/contristive nature of the eight amendment.

Sinead McCarthy

TODAY

Today, I no longer hang my head in shame but lift it up to feel the winds of change and breathe.

Today, I feel accepted and welcome in my own country for the first time in a long time.

Today, I no longer carry a toxic secret but rather a private painful life event.

Today, I want to live. And that living starts now.

Today, by voting Yes you have already changed lives. Thank you.

People celebrate the result of yesterday’s referendum on liberalising abortion law in Dublin. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters
People celebrate the result of yesterday’s referendum on liberalising abortion law in Dublin. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

Jane Collum

What a lovely free for all country you have created Nell fought for pills and condoms for you all once but no that didn’t help it went further marriage was interfered with and look at that disaster broken families children who don’t know their parents but now to kill the innocent shows me how evil and heartless people have gone like spoilt greedy people you live by nothing the animals in the field mind their young I look at you all and see sadness because little have you learned and realise what you have brought the country to its knees and only afew of us are watching from the sideline but we have strong marriages loving families strong faith peace and contentment in our lives and certainly have no blood on our hands when we stand on front of our God but then again you crucified him when what he said you did not like not much has changed in 20000 years all I can say God help you black was your symbol watch the country going deeper into darkness but us who believe will shine have a lovely life it’s sacred

Karen Maye

I was four in 1982, I still remember the posters of aborted foetuses. When I was 13, I remember the nun saying abortion was murder. I remember learning about Magdalene laundries. The horrors kept coming, forced adoptions, babies in septic tanks, exile, shame. I was pregnant when Savita died. I remember the opposition to the protection of life in pregnancy bill. It was clear the constitution and far too many of our legislators did not value women. The huge numbers of men and women who voted yes showed me that the people of Ireland value women and trust women. My daughter is now 4, I took her to Dublin castle for the count. She joined in with all the clapping and cheering, as children do, blissfully unaware that history has been made, a new Ireland awaits. I hope she remembers that moment.

Gearoid Griffin

We have touched a deep well of compassion - and that “we” includes those who voted “no”.

Having removed what was seen to be lack of compassion for mothers to be - what did “equal” mean? - we need to share that compassion with our unborn in the forthcoming legislation.

Once upon a time each of us was an “unborn” with no voice or vote.

Money needs to be spent on providing compassionate support for mothers to be and their unborn and I would like to see progress on this at the same time and with the same urgency as enactment of abortion legislation.

In the past the State has abdicated its responsibility to care for the welfare of its citizens to charitable institutions. Now that Ireland has “grown up” she needs to act like a caring adult for those who are trusted with her care.

Olga Moore

Truly disappointed. I had not realised how radically Irish society had changed. And not for the better. This is not liberation for women. Liberation for women is women standing together in times of crises not walking us to the abortion clinic to clear away the problem as neatly as possible. It is being there for each other when a child is diagnosed with a life limiting conditions and helping

each other through the birth and after care. That is true women helping women. But that takes real time, real effort and real humanity And that’s what makes us better people. Or should I say that’s what made the Irish a cut above the rest. I had lived abroad but chose to move ‘home’ to Ireland. We now live in a disposable society and we wonder why the youth are so weak willed. We no longer believe in a conscience. “If im ok with it it must ve right.” We have no moral compass . We look to mimic other countries who have made the mistakes and care now paying the price.

We no longer face up to problems and overcome them with the help of others in the community, as there is no longer community spirit. In throwing away religion the majority of the Irish people have lost their participation in the community and also not found any true replacement ideology to follow. Unfortunately we still seem to have a generation who are still making decisions to spite the Church, when the Church is no longer the enemy. The enemy is the breakdown in the moral fibre of the country. People have no respect for each other. The cant and wont put in the time or effort to look at the bigger picture which involves understanding right from wrong. Babies and children with disabilities are the softest easiest target to hit first. Bravo two down! Who is next??

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