"Ten Irish women made that trip to England every single day in 2016. I was one of them."
This is Caoimhe Anglin's story, a young Irish woman who like over 3,000 other women from Ireland, was forced to travel to the UK for an abortion due to the current 8th Amendment laws in this country.
We've all heard the figures, seen the statistics bounced around like meaningless numbers, but the truth is that every single one of those 3,265 women who accessed abortion services in the UK last year alone have a story. They're not a statistic; they're your neighbour, your sister, your friend.
Everyday Stories is a new exhibition in FilmBase in Temple Bar that reveals the humanity of complex lives, considered decisions and difficult journeys.
An exhibtion of eight real-life stories from women who have experienced abortion, each story has been illustrated by an Irish-based artist and range from crisis pregnancy and diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality to the story of an Irish nurse in the UK.
"I decided to tell my story because I feel the need to have my voice heard, but the truth is that no pregnant person should have to justify their decision or convince anyone else why their reasons for choosing abortion are 'good enough.'"
“We need to ask ourselves: are we a nation with compassion for women who find themselves in incredibly difficult situations or are we a nation that abandons women and forces them to seek care from other countries?”
At today’s launch, Caoimhe Anglin spoke of her inspiration for the project.
“Through this exhibition and the accompanying website, we are revealing the humanity of complex lives, considered decisions and difficult journeys,” she said.
“We hope ‘Everyday Stories’ will bring perspective, compassion and understanding to often divisive and difficult public debates, and will help us find common ground.
“I am sharing my story because abortion happens and will continue to happen for Irish women. Ten Irish women made the trip to England to access abortion every day last year — I was just one of them.”
Caoimhe began asking Irish women around the country to share their experiences with her as part of what began originally as an online project.
While at first it was difficult to find people willing to open up, she found that the more she told her own story, the more women found the strength to come forward and talk about their own experience.
Once the illustrations started to flow in, Caoimhe knew that this needed a physical exhibition — she hopes to bring it to every county in Ireland (arts centres around the country, get in touch if you would like to welcome this important exhibition to your space).
The exhibition runs from today until Thursday, November 9, at Filmbase in Dublin’s Temple Bar, and is available online at www.everydaystories.org.
Members of the public are invited to submit their own stories through the website, and a new story will be published online every two weeks.
Take 20 or so minutes out of your day and drop in to see this harrowing but vital collection of the everyday experiences that Irish women have faced, and will continue to face until the 8th Amendment is overturned.
We're more than a statistic; we deserve more.
If you have been affected by the issues in this article and/or are dealing with a crisis pregnancy, you can avail of free and non-judgmental advice and counselling here.