Abortion and the referendum in Ireland
Siobhán Silke, Communications Officer, IFPA
For me the most important aspect of the campaign was the storytelling. There was a time in the very recent past where you could count on one hand the number of women in Ireland who had publicly told their stories of abortion.
In 2000, the Irish Family Planning Association published a book called The Irish Journey which was a collection of personal stories gathered from clients of our counselling service telling stories of their journeys, but it was still anonymous. Then a few years ago, members of Terminations for Medical Reasons - a campaign group involving women and couples who had diagnoses of a fatal fetal anomaly and had been forced to travel elsewhere for terminations - went on Irish TV with their faces showing, with their real names and told their stories. That emboldened and gave courage to others with different tales to come forward too.
So, by 2018, there was a flood of women telling their stories. And it was it was really one of the most important parts of the campaign. I would say that no woman owes anybody her story. But their bravery was just incredible.
Part of my job during the campaign was supporting the women and ensuring that they had a level of protection. I was conscious they had to tell their own story directly, so they’re not filtered. But it it's a delicate thing, because you're asking somebody who is already vulnerable put themselves in a position that could potentially make them more so. I would certainly say when a woman has told her story three or four times to three or four different journalists, that’s enough and it’s time to find someone else. It is also important as a campaigner to have good relationships with journalists. Be ready to respond. Because the other side always will be.