In Her Shoes... the powerful new platform for women brutally impacted by the 8th
*This piece contains details which may prove upsetting to some readers.
A new platform has been created for Irish women to share their stories of how the 8th amendment has affected them.
In Her Shoes has become incredibly successful almost overnight with more than 23,000 Facebook followers at the time of publishing.
The creator of the page Grainne* was inspired to start In Her Shoes after helping out at an information stall for Repeal the 8th in her local town.
"Speaking with people on the street, finding that some people just couldn't imagine the reasons a woman might need an abortion. I felt like if they could only hear what women are going through, if they could 'take a walk in her shoes' so to speak. Walk a mile in her shoes, hell - walk 300 miles from Galway to Liverpool as she tells you what brought her to this decision."
Grainne initially planned to create installations of women's stories in small towns around the country, but as a busy mother of three small children, she realised that she needed an idea that wouldn't take so much time to organise and that it had to have a wide reach.
"How could I help the public to empathise with the 12 women and girls that are having abortions, daily? I started the Facebook page and it has well surpassed any expectations."
Many of the stories have been shared thousands of times. Some are from women who have had abortions, others are of women whose lives have been overshadowed by the 8th, like this woman who was a victim of incest.
"I was a victim of child sexual abuse. From the age of four my much older brother regularly took me to a secret place, over time he took it further and further, at age eight or nine it was full sex. I lay in bed at night measuring my tummy with my arm across my hips and tummy - feeling for a bump, terrified and not really understanding what it took to get pregnant, my first period came at 11, and the final time with my brother was at the age of 12. I could have easily became pregnant... and then what? Sex was shameful and not mentioned in our house, my Catholic mother despite being loving could not even cope with us kids seeing kissing scenes on telly.
"If I had become pregnant at 12 years old by my own brother, I would not have been able to have an abortion in my own country with the support and care and love that I needed. Nobody wants to talk about incest, sadly it happens. Women need safe and supportive care when and where they need it for whatever reason."
Another woman spoke of complications that occurred on her return to Ireland after having the procedure in the UK.
"I rang the Well Woman clinic and went got an internal scan. There were products of conception in my womb and I was told to get to the hospital straight away. I was hysterical. I got into the car, got to the hospital, stood in the little cubicle waiting, telling them I was sorry."
"Then I felt a gush. I ran to the bathroom. What was left of the baby was now all over my legs, my shoes and the floor. I remember bending down trying to clean it. I was just so torn apart with grief and anger that this had happened. I had to have a procedure to remove the rest the following morning and in that time, nobody really spoke to me or cared what I’d been through."
Grainne says that the reception to In Her Shoes has been overwhelmingly positive.
"I think because people are honestly empathetic, good, and want to care for others. The stories highlight such vast reasons a person might need an abortion, or how their continued pregnancy and birth was impacted by the 8th.
"So many reasons that the general public had never considered, and are horrified that their fellow citizens and residents are not receiving adequate and compassionate care."
If you wish to submit a story anonymously you can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Grainne asked to be anonymous so her name has been changed.