Ireland is due to have a referendum next week to remove a Constitutional ban (the 8th Amendment) on abortion. If the referendum is carried Irish women will be able to have access to abortion in their own country for the first time. This is an issue that directly affects me and my life and my health. There’s been a lot of ‘othering’ going on about the type of woman who has an abortion, so I wanted to counter that by telling my story about the impact the 8th Amendment has had on me, an ordinary Irish woman, who is just like you.
DID you know that more than half of those accessing abortion care are already parents?
Did you know that more than half of those accessing abortion care were already using at least one form of contraception when they became pregnant?
Did you know that every single day nine Irish women leave Ireland to travel to the UK to have an abortion while a further three women take safe but illegal abortion pills, that they bought off the internet, in their own bedrooms?
Did you know that after I had my son in 2013 I was so ill with post natal depression that I typed a goodbye text onto my phone for my husband and shook out a handful of paracetamol to take my own life?
Did you know that the only reason I didn’t follow through was because I was interrupted by a neighbour knocking at the door?
Did you know that on another day I spent an hour at the top of my stairs telling myself to just let go, to throw myself down on to the hard hall tiles below?
Did you know that I was so ill that for weeks I couldn’t look after my son, that he lived with his grandparents pretty much 80 per cent of the time?
Did you know that I missed his first smile?
Did you know that because I have had post natal depression, I am now at a hugely increased risk of having post natal depression again in a subsequent pregnancy and that I am at a hugely increased risk of having a more severe form of depression the next time?
Did you know that next time I might not be so lucky, that I might not survive becoming a mother a second time?
Did you know that I think it should be up to me to decide if that is a risk I want to take for myself and my family if I became pregnant again?
Did you know that I don’t think it should be up to you to decide what is or isn’t a risk for me and my family?
Did you know that I am meticulous about my contraception?
Did you know that no contraception is 100 per cent effective and a tiny half a per cent failure rate could be my downfall?
Did you know that I don’t actually want to have any more children and that part of that is my personal choice but part of it is because I live in fear of the 8th amendment and of being forced to continue a pregnancy that could ultimately kill me?
Did you know that I thought I was a terrible mother, back then – for handing him over to others to look after, for having those terrifying thoughts, for being ill, for not being strong enough?
Did you know that I don’t think I’m a terrible mother now – that I think if I became pregnant again and if I chose not to continue the pregnancy that this makes me a good mother, a strong person?
Did you know that I have Crohn’s Disease – a chronic life-long disease of the bowel – and that pregnancy exacerbated my symptoms so much that I was seriously ill for the whole duration of my last pregnancy and had to have two surgeries after I gave birth?
Did you know that five years later I’m still not well, still not back to how I was before I became pregnant?
Did you know that if I became pregnant again I’d have to stop the meds which are giving me some relief right now?
Did you know that because my Crohn’s was so bad during pregnancy the last time that there is a hugely increased risk that it would be even worse the next time around – meaning more pain, more illness, more surgeries after birth?
Did you know that it’s hard for me to talk about these private personal matters – but that I feel I have to, I feel I have to try to help people understand why I feel so strongly about this?
Did you know that I’m not careless or stupid or a slut or irresponsible or wrong or dirty or a disgrace or a murderer – and neither are the 170,000 women who have had to leave Ireland to have an abortion since 1983?
Did you know that my name is Karen Mulreid and that I am your daughter, your sister, your friend, your colleague and one day I could be one of the 12 women a day needing access to an abortion?
Did you know that I have faith that the people of Ireland are caring and compassionate and brave enough to see the damage the 8th amendment has done over the past 35 years and to Vote Yes on May 25th?
Did you know that I have faith in you?
Did you know that I’m counting on you?
Did you know?
For more details on the campaign to Repeal the 8th Amendment visit Together for Yes