MICHELLE* travelled from Donegal to England for an abortion six years ago. She's no longer eligible to vote, but has a message for those who are. 

In 2012, the day before my birthday I was sitting in a BPAS Clinic in Liverpool.

A romantic, birthday trip had seemed like a plausible reason to go away. It was one less lie to tell and it meant that I had saved enough money for the flights, hotel and procedure.

The nurse noted my address was Irish and in that moment I sensed that she felt sorry for me. I asked if she saw many others like me and she replied: "Yes, we see women from Ireland every day. It’s truly awful.”

For the first time I felt shame. Not for myself. But for my country. Having lived a life proud to be Irish, I found myself sitting in front of these kind nurses and doctors. 

They were forced to look after the women that Ireland turned a blind eye to, the women Ireland swept under the carpet, and I wasn’t proud anymore.

I left Ireland shortly after. I spent time living in Europe, before moving to London.  

When it became clear that Ireland was moving towards a referendum on the Eighth Amendment, I joined the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign. Being involved with the group has meant I can be active in fundraising, spreading factual information and that I can support the campaign at home.

The one thing I cannot do however, is vote.

The termination of a pregnancy is a personal and private matter, but every woman who crossed the Irish sea was forced to do so in public, exposed and afraid.

No matter what the circumstances, they were forced to carry the shame and stigma of a nation who refused to care for them.

This year the Irish government is asking us if we want change.

They are ready to listen to us, they are ready to support us, they are ready to legislate for us - as long we say Yes.

This May 25th, please get to the polls and vote YES for every Irish woman who had to travel by plane or boat for care denied to them at home. 

Vote YES so that the next generation of Irish women won’t have to do the same. 

Vote YES so that my experience is not destined to be repeated.

Please - Be My Yes.

Hannah Little