‘We’re the majority of decent people, not killers, not murderers’

Anne Conway (69), who had abortion in UK in 1970, ‘vindicated’ by referendum result

Anne Conway (69), who had an abortion almost 50 years ago, was "completely overjoyed" by the referendum result.

“We are vindicated. The people are with us. After so many long years of struggle, of setbacks, we will no longer be shamed.”

Ms Conway, originally from rural Cavan and now living in Dublin, told The Irish Times earlier this month of her experience, when she was 21, of having an abortion in London. She said the biggest shock, when being admitted to the clinic in London in 1970, was being greeted by an Irish nurse: “We see a lot of Irish girls here.”

“Although 48 years have passed, it feels like the atmosphere has not changed – the fear, the judgment, the stigma,” she said in the interview. “I’ve never told anyone about my abortion, just my husband and adult daughters. I regret that. I decided to speak about it now to try to change that stigma. It has to stop.”


Speaking on Sunday, she said she had been “buoyed up by the kindness and humanity of all the lovely young people” she had met during the referendum campaign and since the interview.

“I am glad I spoke out. It wasn’t easy but if it encouraged some more people to vote Yes, then it was worth it.

“So many young people thanked me for telling my story. It meant a lot to them to hear a woman from another generation speaking out.

"The youth of Ireland and their parents, who brought them up as caring people, have declared an end to the types of cruelty that went on in the past and that's been for too long in Ireland. We can safely hand the baton on.

“We’re the majority of decent people, not killers, not murderers. We’re the majority of ordinary decent Irish people.”

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times