Friday 16 November 2018

'I have kept the story of my abortion a secret from everyone for 40 years'

Maeve Sheehan hears one woman's story of feeling 'so alone' as she kept her abortion secret from everyone

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Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Before the internet or mobile phones or online bookings, more than 3,000 women a year travelled from Ireland to the UK to have an abortion.

This was the late 1970s and 1980s, an era when unmarried pregnant women were still consigned to Magdalene laundries. Others fumbled for coins in public phone boxes, clutching advertisements torn from the pages of British women's magazines. They are a largely silent generation of women, now in their 60s or 70s. Their stories are rarely heard. Most probably kept their heads down through decades of vitriolic public debate.

Siobhan, who is approaching 70, has kept her secret for four decades. And although she is sitting in a Dublin hotel with a journalist, she has never told her story to her husband, her children, her siblings, friends or extended family - and she doesn't think she ever will. For this reason, her name has been changed to protect her identity.

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