An Irish couple desperately seeking an abortion are travelling to Liverpool today, and are documenting their journey across social media.
In recent months, Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws have been repeatedly highlighted, and come under increasing scrutiny.
The country’s Eighth Amendment of 1883 stipulates that abortions may only be permitted if the women’s life or mental health are at risk. If caught seeking an abortion or even trying to induce one themselves, women can face custodial sentences.
As a result, many women have reported seeking abortion pills, with 4,000 Irish women making long journeys to England to find a doctor who will perform the procedure for them. Some even seek more extreme methods.
Today, a married couple using the Twitter account @itstimetorepeal and hashtag #itstimetorepeal– a name referencing to the demand to repeal the eighth amendment – is documenting their journey, inspired by others who have done the same.
Their Twitter account shows the long and tiring journey the pair take have had to take, that includes travelling in a plane, a train and a car.
On arrival at the surgery, they note the “very familiar accents” in the waiting room – surrounded, as it appears they are, by other Irish women also having to travel to seek an abortion.
The husband posted a powerful statement on their account, explaining the heart-breaking reason why they are making and documenting the journey.
Explaining that the couple took several attempts to have a child, he goes on to explain why their second pregnancy must be terminated, saying:
“Our first child was born with a genetic condition that meant we spent many months in hospital and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Although there is a risk any future children may carry the same condition we decided it was a risk worth taking.
“At our first pre-natal appointment we were offered a genetic screening test. Although it does not screen for the condition that affects our first child, it will for others that may inhibit the baby's chance of survival.”
We have arrived. Forms filled in and shown to the waiting room that's almost full. Deathly quiet only broken by some very familiar accents..— Heartbroken&Punished (@itstimetorepeal) November 10, 2016
But then the couple received a life-changing phone call:
“A fatal foetal abnormality was discovered. We had never heard of Edwards Syndrome before but we were told that even if carried to full term the period of life would be counted in the minutes and hours after birth. It is a crushing sentence for any person to hear let alone for my wife who has had to give up her career to become a full time carer for our little boy.”
Their son’s condition means that he requires constant monitoring in order to stay alive, so leaving him to travel for the abortion is a huge risk in itself.
Read more: Abortion: The unheard stories
“(Despite) what should be a simple procedure that could be carried out 20 minutes from home in a risk free environment, we are being forced to travel to the UK, leaving our child behind and the risks that involves to do the most humane thing possible to a baby that will never survive,” he writes.
“We hope that this may enlighten those who do not want to listen or even allow the people of this country to decide for themselves. Our government has continually kicked the can down the road and we, the people, must decide if we can allow this to happen.”
You can follow the couple’s journey here and on Snapchat.