Monday 19 November 2018

John Masterson: It is time to give 150,000 faceless women a voice

A grown-up debate on abortion that includes women who have had one is overdue

Think of Croke Park filled twice. Both All-Irelands. According to the 2011 census, the population of Galway including suburbs and environs is 76,778. Double it. And since half of those living in Galway are men you need to double it again. The number of Irish women who have had abortions in Britain since 1980 is about four times the number of women of all ages living in the greater Galway area today.

In 1993 I was editor of an RTE current affairs series called Tuesday File. My brief included commissioning a small number of programmes from independent producers and we advertised for proposals. One I chose was submitted by a talented team, Fintan Connolly and Hilary Dully. They proposed to interview three woman who had been to London for abortions and who agreed to discuss their experiences.

After four years as executive producer of Today Tonight (the Prime Time of its day) I was well familiar with editorial procedures when dealing with sensitive topics. Having run the proposal up the relevant flagpoles, I was given the go-ahead to commission the programme. It was called 50,000 Secret Journeys.

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