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Stop forcing women to travel for abortions

As a host for the Abortion Support Network, along with other volunteers, I provide accommodation, transport and food for Irish women forced to travel to England for abortions.

Just after Christmas, a woman needed a last-minute place to stay. I picked her up from the station, tried to get her to eat some dinner, provided her with a warm room for the night and then took her to the clinic in the morning.

This experience brought home to me the barbarity of outsourcing abortions to another country.

If I were in her position, I would have made an appointment with a clinic at most a few miles from my home.

My husband, or best friend, would have accompanied me. They would have assisted me in working out the route and helped me find my way from the station. They would have sat with me all day in the clinic, cheering me up, or just providing comfort. They could have spoken to doctors and nurses for me, allaying any fears and finding out any information I wanted.

They would have come home with me afterwards, covered me in a blanket and watched some TV with me. They would have given me painkillers, hot drinks and hot water bottles. They would have been alert to any problems and able to call for help in the unlikely event it was needed. We would have talked and I could have shared my thoughts with a person I loved.

I felt so moved that this woman had to go through this experience on her own in a strange place. Outsourcing the care of these women, relying on the help of English strangers, is a heartbreaking thing.

Polly Barklem


Belfast Telegraph Digital

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