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31st August 2018, 14:57:40 UTC

Fionnuala’s story

At the time that I got pregnant, contraception was still illegal in Ireland. I am not reckless, I am quite careful and I am considerate about things and at that time I had gone off to the Irish Family Planning Association and I had told them. I had lied: I said that I was engaged. They knew I was lying, I knew I was lying in order to get a prescription for condoms. But you know condoms have probably the highest failure rate of any contraceptive and I found myself pregnant. It was absolutely impossible, I could barely sustain myself never mind a child so I knew what to do. I was very self-conscious about it, but we organised it.

It had to be a big secret. My boyfriend came with me and if it wasn’t for him I would have been really bloody lost. I couldn’t tell anybody, so he knew, I knew and I organized a friend of mine to be my cover to say that I had gone to stay overnight with her. And then we had to get the boat to Liverpool.

At that time obliviously there weren’t the medical abortions so it was a DNC and I was under a full anaesthetic. When I woke up and had my cup of tea I had to discharge myself against medical advice because I only had the cover for the one night for being away and we had to get the ferry back. So we had to discharge me in time for the ferry back to Dublin. The doctor said to me the reason we don’t advise it, I know a lot of Irish women do this, but he said, is because there is a risk of haemorrhage and there is no doctor on the ferry. Are you prepared to take that risk? I went: I have to. I have to get back.

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