News Columnists

Saturday 25 February 2017

Dr Ciara Kelly: #TwoWomenTravel - 170,000 women travel

Most women will never tell anyone about that desperate, lonely trip
Most women will never tell anyone about that desperate, lonely trip

Once more Ireland's uncaring abortion regime hit world headlines this week. I have a feeling that is not the first or the last time I have opened an article with that line; this time is a result of #TwoWomenTravel trending globally. This was the twitter account of two Irish women, one pregnant, the other her friend, travelling over to England to access an abortion. They documented their journey in a series of short, simple tweets; showing the plane on a dark, bleak morning at Dublin airport. The mundane train journey. The generic waiting room. A cheap cafe. A shabby hotel room.

Media outlets form The Guardian, to The New York Times followed their journey with a kind of fascination at how Ireland can continue to fly in the face of women's human rights while telling itself that it somehow has the moral high ground. The women addressed all of their tweets to Enda Kenny - who didn't reply to any of them. And two tweets stood out for me. The one where they simply said 'Joined by more Irish in the waiting room' and the picture of the bloodstained sheet from the morning after the procedure - because that shows just how dangerous this arrangement is to the life and health of Irish women travelling, while still bleeding from surgery.

The reason the 'Joined by more Irish' tweet struck me is because it isn't just #TwoWomenTravel it should in fact be #TenWomenTravel - because that is the number who do every day. Or #170,0000WomenTravel - because that is the number of Irish women who have made that sad, fear-filled, voiceless journey to date. And I say voiceless, because such is the level of shame heaped on Irish women here for undergoing what is a routine medical procedure in accordance with their human rights in most other western democracies, most will never speak of it. Most will never tell anyone about that desperate, lonely trip.

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