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An aircraft lands at Gatwick, UK.
Reuters/Neil Hall
Lonely flight.
LIMITS OF CHOICE

Two Irish women have live-tweeted their journey to seek abortions in England

By Cassie Werber

Two women from Ireland have live-tweeted their journey to England to obtain abortions in protest of their country’s restrictive laws banning the procedure.

Using the handle @TwoWomenTravel, the unnamed women tweeted about the loneliness, exhaustion, and pain of making a journey abroad for a medical procedure that could be provided at home. The images powerfully tell the story of that difficult, lonely trek in grim trains, dreary hotel rooms, and bloodstained sheets:

(We have reached out to the women for comment, but they have not yet responded.)

Abortion is illegal in Ireland in almost all cases, making it one of the most restrictive regimes in the world when it comes to women’s choice over whether to terminate a pregnancy. In June 2016, the United Nations ruled Ireland’s ban an infringement of human rights.

The blanket ban has led to an expensive and difficult workaround for Irish women: If they have the autonomy and financial means, they travel to England, where abortion is legal, for the procedure. In 2015, 4,284 women from Ireland and Northern Ireland traveled to England for abortions, according to statistics from the UK Department of Health (pdf, page 71).

In some of the tweets, the women ask Enda Kelly, Ireland’s leader, how he would feel in their situation.

Abortion remains a live issue in many countries, and often serves as a proxy for the conflict between certain conservative values on one side, and women’s rights on the other. In Ireland, the debate also takes in issues of women’s life and death. In 2012, Savita Halappanavar, a dentist, died in Ireland after being denied an emergency abortion.