BE MY YES SO THE JOURNEY I MADE IS NO LONGER THE ONLY OPTION

Ais

Aisling* has been directly impacted by the Eighth Amendment, but doesn't have a right to vote. This is her story. 

When I found out I was pregnant it was a shock. Having a child at that time would have kept me in the toxic relationship I was in.

While my mind was made up, I remember the stress over the cost and need to travel. I could not pay the costs myself, so had to admit to my parents that I needed their help.

This was so difficult, but they backed me up. I was able to discuss my situation with Marie Stopes staff without judgement and received great support from them. Travelling to London was such a shock, my brain was all over the place, I got lost so many times.

I felt so ill after the procedure, severe cramps, throwing up. I just wanted to sleep it all off, but I had to get to the airport. That was really awful. Having to muster the strength after such a serious procedure, trying to hold it together physically throughout the trip home, it's indescribable how low I felt.

To this day I can count on one hand the number of people to whom I have told my story. The normal reaction is one of pity and "you poor thing". They mean well. In a way I was lucky, I had the money and ability to make the trip, many don't.

I made this choice, as have many before and after me.

I can’t vote in the upcoming referendum. So my opinion of legalising abortion in Ireland is just that, an opinion.

However, those eligible to vote in Ireland have a historic opportunity to acknowledge the reality of abortion in Ireland.

I have stayed silent because I fear what will happen if I talk openly about my abortion. But do not take the general silence to mean abortion does not happen. It does, it is and it will.

The vote will send a clear sign to those women and girls of how the Irish electorate feel about them; will they continue to feel OK with exporting the issue to foreign clinics while lining airline’s pockets?

Or will they stand up and say enough is enough; this is an Irish issue and Ireland can and will deal with it?

The #hometovote campaign is so important. You can become used to how things are, accept them, think it's normal.

Living abroad gives an opportunity to rethink the norm. I would hope that Irish people around the world, having experienced how other countries treat those seeking abortions, will come home to vote. For many years I have hoped that one day the journey I took, will no longer be the only option.

*The name of the author has been changed to protect her identity 

Hannah Little