"I Only Have One Regret" - Irish Woman Shares a Brave and Moving Account of her Experience with Abortion 9 years ago

"I Only Have One Regret" - Irish Woman Shares a Brave and Moving Account of her Experience with Abortion

One of our favourite Twitter accounts can be found at @Ireland.  A new curator takes over the account every week and it’s a wonderful insight into widely varying lives in our country.

Last night, followers witnessed one of the most powerful uses of social media we’ve ever seen. This week’s curator is Janet Ní Shuilleabháin, usually found tweeting at @sharrow_ie.


Janet took her turn at the helm to share an incredibly brave and honest account of the abortion she had in her youth, and how the experience has affected her life since. The unedited tweets can be found below.

For more, and to interact with Janet, follow the @Ireland account here.


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  • So earlier today I disclosed that I am #Prochoice that I had an abortion myself and that my activism includes being apart of @freesafelegal
  • So I am going to talk about that for the next little while, figured I'd give people a heads up as it may be triggering for some.
  • I only have one regret about my decision to have an abortion and that is I had to travel. My partner at the time was very supportive
  • When the x case was happening in 1992 I was in 6th year. while the nuns were trying to get us to wear fetus feet pins
  • My sympathies lay with Ms X who was pregnant and did not want to be, was only 3 years young then I was.
  • So a few years later when I ended up pregnant due to contraception failing (no contraception is 100%) I knew what  I wanted.
  • If I had of continued with the pregnancy, I knew I would not end up putting it up for adoption, family ties are that strong.
  • I was working at the time and wanted to go on to 3rd level education, I wanted to be able to provide well for my children when I had them.
  • We had to go for counselling to get information and then make the arrangements and book flights.
  • My first time ever on an airplane was to travel to the UK for my abortion, far from the glamours way flying was portrayed.
  • Every time I see an airplane seat buckle it reminds me of that journey and how I had all day 'morning sickness'.
  • Having an abortion was my Choice, I respect the choices of other women. I am not ashamed of my choice. So why be silent about it.
  • I am not alone in my choice, we know that at least 150,000 women have taken that same journey to the UK to have an abortion.
  • The mid morning flight, the pale serious women on it were easy to spot, there were 3 other women traveling on the same plane as me that day.
  • One of whom I got talking to when we got on the train at the airport. Turned out she lived in the same areas I did.
  • She also had her partner with her. We talked about everything but why we were traveling.
  • When we got to the first clinic, another young woman saw her and rushed to her and they cried loudly sobbing clutching each other.
  • Turns out they were cousins and neither knew the other was pregnant and traveling to have an abortion.
  • I had a scan and had blood work done, saw a cousellor and a dr. Then left to spend the night in a B&B
  • I remember all the floors of the waiting rooms, the b&b, the corridors clinics and wards so clearly.
  • The next day we traveled to the  clinic, there were protesters outside. They shouted at us in English and Irish.
  • "Tá grá ag an Dia tusa agus a léanbh."  unforgettable.
  • Léanbh? I was 11 weeks pregnant.
  • We had to tell so many lies about traveling, it was a supposed romantic weekend away.
  • We had to have our story straight for when we got back, what we did, what we saw, so many lies.
  • I knew people would ask me questions and I had to be able to smile about traveling, when it was what I had to do to get my life back.
  • I was put under a general anesthetic, I had not concerns about that as I had one when I had my tonsils out at age 7.
  • When I woke up I knew I was pregnant any more as I was lying completely flat on my stomach.
  • I cried from relief and sadness that the first time I had been pregnant it wasn't a happy event. It was a time of stress and worry.
  • Most of that stress would have been minimized if I didn't have to had traveled to a different country.
  • Recently @Doctors4Choice have said that more Irish women have had abortions then have had their tonsils out.
  • I guess I am one of the rare over lapping ones who have had both procedures.
  • I spent that night in the clinic being checked on by nurses and crying a lot. I no longer had to hold it together, I had got to the UK
  • I had over come all the difficulties, the booking of flights, the getting the money, the getting information, the currency exchange
  • I had done it, I had managed to have an abortion and not be pregnant any more.
  • the 3rd night was spent in the B&B and I knew I had to get all of my crying over and one with before I got home.
  • As I shared my bedroom with my 3 younger sisters.
  • It was like the time over there in that strange place was another universe and I would leave it all behind when I got on the plane home.
  • This was also back before mobile phones, there was only the house phone, so there was no way to talk to my partner about it.
  • I remeber the rush of relief and elation when I got off the plane in Dublin Airport. I was home I was safe I was no longer pregnant.
  • I would not have the children I have today who I love so much, if I had not of ended that pregnancy.
  • I got on with my life, not telling anyone, it was hard, esp walking past pro life protesters at the GPO
  • When I went to college I got elected and WRO, women's rights officer.
  • I ended up dealing with young women in crises pregnancy situations. I would refer them to Cura or the IFP
  • If they made the same decision I did, I tired to be supportive. Sharing my experience, letting them know what would happen.
  • I would ring and try sort out grants and accommodation for them the same way @AbortionSupport does today.
  • I even had married women who had children come into the college to find me for information, as their family dr was pro life.
  • The @AbortionSupport helps women from Ireland every day with information, money and somewhere to day when they travel to the uk.
  • The @AbortionSupport is a small charity run on grants and domations by volunteers.
  • some people ask why not adoption, adoption solves the question of an unwanted child not an unwanted pregnancy
  • Some of the young women went mid week to the UK and would then stay up the weekend to recover in diggs and rented houses.
  • I would bring my fellow students paracetamol tissues and listen to them, when they got home.
  • To this day some of them still get in touch via email when that time of the year comes around.
  • some of them are now married with kids and thier husbands don't even know they had an abortion.
  • There are so many of us who have had an abortion, but the shame and stigma has kept us silenced far too long.
  • That silence causes suffering for ourselves and for others who are traveling, estimated 12 women a day form Ireland.
  • My godmother was a single parent, cherish did wonderful work to end the stigma around being an unmarried mother.
  • Women who choose to continue the pregnancy, have my utmost admiration, respect and support.
  • That silence causes suffering for ourselves and for others who are traveling, estimated 12 women a day form Ireland.
  • My godmother was a single parent, cherish did wonderful work to end the stigma around being an unmarried mother.
  • Women who choose to continue the pregnancy, have my utmost admiration, respect and support.
  • some of my fellow students did choose to do that and came back after taking a year off to have the child.
  • They were very cute babies and I baby sat some of them.
  • I have lost track over the years of the number of women I have helped. It's easily over 60.
  • And over the years many more women shared their stories with me.Each one was an honor as it's not easily told.
  • When I was pregnant with my first born I was giddy and happy when I went for my booking in appointment at the hospital.
  • I gave a full and honest medical history, I believe that doing so is important.
  • I got a very hostile reception when I answered the question of have you been pregnant before, honestly.
  • I was told I should pray to god for forgiveness and hopefully this child would be ok and survive.
  • Needless to say when I encountered that mid wife, again I asked to see someone else.
  • When I got into my 2nd trimester, I was now finally more pregant then I had been before.
  • My pregnancy went well and what mixed feelings which had remained with me were washed away when my son was born.
  • I was finally a mother, I was a parent, on my terms and at a time of my choosing.
  • Nearly  3 years later I had my second booking in appointment, again I got a less then friendly response when givng my medical history.
  • I looked the midwife in the eye and told her if she could not be professional then she should fetch someone else.
  • Then I had my daughter and I was over joyed as my family was complete.
  • I only ever wanted to kids, I was lucky to get one of each.
  • I still remained an activist, sharing information on contraception, were to get the morning after pill and refering people to the ifpa
  • I do believe that an ounce of prevention is better then a pound of cure.
  • So when a certain group rolled out posters all over the country, I was furious.
  • More shaming, more stigma, more lies. Having an abortion did not tear my life apart, I felt that having an abortion saved my life.
  • It made me able to have the life I chose. I made my decision, I made my choice, it gave me back control over my body , my life, my future.
  • So I heard about a meeting before the Rally which was planned outside Lennister House.
  • It was strange and empowering to be in a room full of unapologetic pro choice people.
  • I got involved with the Irish Choice Network and out of that the Abortion Rights Campaign was formed. @freesafelegal
  • I was at the meeting that the campaign name was announced, it was slightly sureal.
  • Abortion had been such a taboo word, but with the protests and the Vigils after Savita's tragic death that taboo was broken.
  • The word abortion was finally being used it was no longer the 'Substantive Issue"
  • At that meeting I for the first time publicly say to a group of people that I had an abortion.
  • I wrote about that experience here hhttp://sharrowshadow.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/blog-for-choice-day-i-had-an-abortion
  • For the last year I have been working with the abortion rights campaign, working on admin work and being a spokes person.
  • I attended a speak out which @freesafelegal organised, were women shared their stories of having an abortion.
  • Women who have traveled to the Uk or holland or spain and some who used the abortion pill here in Ireland.
  • We shared our stories, hugged, cried, laughed, broke the silence.
  • The feeling of solidarity was huge, we looked at each other with a feeling of not being alone or isolated any longer.
  • I have spoken about the fact I have had an abortion to @PennyRed when she was over.
  • I mentioned it when I was on @newstalk to discuss the @bpas1968 notice about how they look after women.
  • I spoke about how having a daughter & how if contraception fails & she choose to have an abortion I don't want her to have to travel
  • When I was on #thehenhouse yesterday with @barbrascully Thank you for having me on.
  • I believe that we should have the right to an abortion when a woman's health is in danger not just life.
  • I believe we should have the right to an abortion in the cases of fatal fetal abnormalities, no woman should be a walking coffin.
  • I believe we should have the right to abortion in the cases of rape or incest.
  • I believe that we should have the abortion pill legalised, to give women the right to choice.
  • I believe that abortion should be decriminalised, no woman or dr should face 14 years in jail.
  • I agree with Minister Shatter that while the 8th amendment is in place women at not truly equal citizens.
  • I believe that I have to be careful about only using the word women when talking abortion rights cos Transmen may need an abortion.
  • So that is my story, that is my journey that is why I am #prochoice and am part of the abortion rights campaign. @freesafelegal
  • I would like to think that pregnant people will have the health care the need here when we #repealthe8th repealthe8th.ie
  • The last 12 months have been huge for me personally and for many others who have had an abortion we are no longer silent
  • So I am done for now, it's been a hell of an hour, I will answer some questions