The IFPA provides confidential and non-directive pregnancy counselling services to women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, or a pregnancy which has become a crisis, and their partners. We support a woman’s choice about her pregnancy in all cases, whether that choice is abortion, parenting or adoption. In our written submission to the Citizens’ Assembly, we developed case vignettes to illustrate the wide range of reasons why women seek abortion and the barriers they face in doing so.
Róisín is unemployed and living in poverty. She becomes pregnant unintentionally. She has two children, both in foster care as a result of problems she experienced with drug dependency. She has a history of mental illness during her pregnancies and is still battling depression at the time of her third pregnancy. She has remained sober for a year and is working with social workers to try to regain custody of her children. She knows that having another child at this moment of her life would jeopardise her health and her chances of regaining custody of her children. She decides to travel to England to have an abortion.
Róisín approaches a religious charity and seeks financial assistance. She disclose her situation to a case-worker, who takes detailed notes. A week later, she is told that because of the charity’s ethos, she won’t be helped to access an abortion. She borrows money from a money lender at a high interest rate. She travels to England alone and in secrecy and has an abortion at 9½ weeks pregnant. She is careful not to alert the social workers or miss a contact visit with her children.
She returns to Ireland the day after the abortion for her contact visit with her youngest child. On her return home, she begins to bleed heavily and has to ask a neighbour to call an ambulance.
Outcome: In post-abortion counselling at the IFPA, Roisin tells her counsellor that although she experienced pain, nausea and bleeding for weeks after her abortion, she did not seek further medical advice. She felt humiliated and degraded by her experience with the religious charity. She is still struggling with depression, and firmly believes the abortion was the right decision for her.
*Róisín's account is not based on any one individual, but draws on the experiences of a number of women who have been in contact with IFPA services.
Download the IFPA's submission to the Citizens' Assembly.