Doctor told abortion story for ‘all the women who could not tell theirs’

Siobhán Donohue says voting to repeal Eighth Amendment a ‘surreal’ experience

Dr Siobhán Donohue, a GP from Bray, Co Wicklow, with  her children Aoife, Ciarán, and Joey. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw.

Dr Siobhán Donohue, a GP from Bray, Co Wicklow, with her children Aoife, Ciarán, and Joey. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw.

 

A doctor who has spoken of her experience of travelling to Liverpool to terminate a pregnancy, has said she is “quietly optimistic” that the Eighth Amendment will be repealed.

Dr Siobhán Donohue said neighbours and friends had contacted her before she voted in Bray, Co Wicklow to express support for her decision to tell her abortion story while campaigning for a Yes vote.

Twenty-weeks into her pregnancy Dr Donohue was told her baby had anencephaly, a condition which meant his skull would not form fully and that he would not survive after being born.

She said she had told her story for “all the women who could not tell theirs”.

Dr Donohue, who is the national chair of the Terminations for Medical Reasons support group (TMFR), said the experience of voting on the amendment was “surreal”, much like her trip to Liverpool in 2011.

She has spoken of spending time in Liverpool Women’s Hospital where she was told there was a room nicknamed “the Shamrock Suite” as “that many Irish women have been in it”.

‘Human face’

She said personal stories were very important in the campaign as they put “a human face” on the facts and figures surrounding the number of people who travel to the UK for terminations.

Women should not have to go through the experience of taking a flight and leaving behind their medical team and the care and support of their families to receive treatment in another country, Dr Donohue said.

“I am cautiously optimistic it feels like there has been a slow build on the Yes side,” she said. “I think there is a lot of people out there who have had experience of this back through the years. This has changed our lives enormously, it is an emotional day.”

She said removing the amendment would be “a first step” but that there will “still be battles to take place” once the result of the referendum is known.

Dr Donohue added that “at least those battles will be able to take place...We can reassure people that they have an option”.