Sarah's Story

As the story goes I found out I was pregnant on Sunday the 5th of March 2017 with my partner by my side. We both knew it was not our time to be parents and while we had a list of pros/cons of what would happen if we were to keep the pregnancy, we knew it wouldn’t work out. We made contact with the Marie Stopes Clinic and decided to have my scan done with Reproductive Choices on Berkeley Street, Dublin to confirm the pregnancy.

I wasn’t sure how to get to the clinic so I arrived quite early.  There were two women outside – an elderly lady and younger woman, probably in her 30s.  The older woman approached me and asked if I was going into the green building (Reproductive Choices). She told me that they charge stupid amounts of money for scans and she will do my scan for free.  They seemed genuine, so I naively went with them.

Gianna Care

We arrived at Gianna Care on Dorset St., which was in a small apartment with couches, a computer and a little kitchenette. On the wall, there was pictures of ‘how to save a life’ and certificates of [redacted] as a qualified psychotherapist.  I immediately felt uneasy.   The younger lady asked me why I was going into Reproductive Choices.  I said that I was not ready to be mother, I told her that it’s not my time. 

What followed was a long drawn out lecture of them telling me that my life will be ruined and I’ll regret everything if I go ahead with an abortion.  I was told that my chances of having another pregnancy after a termination would be slim. That I was killing my future children’s brother/sister.  I tried to tell them that I wasn’t ready but they wouldn’t listen to me.  I really felt that they did not care about my well-being.

Two women look at a computer screen.They asked about my family and what my parents thought of this. I told them my dad had died last year and they inferred how disappointed he would be if I went through with this.  They even offered me financial assistance if I kept the baby.  I felt they manipulated me to get details of my sister’s workplace, my partner’s job description and my phone number. 

I had 20 minutes until my appointment with Reproductive Choices and they were aware of that, but they kept trying to keep me there, I assume till I agreed to keep the pregnancy.   I felt completely trapped.

They filled me up with water and brought me upstairs where they had had boxes of baby clothes, a bed and an ultrasound machine. I was laying on the bed, and the younger lady put the sonogram machine in front of me. I told her I didn’t want to see the scan and the elder lady responded with ‘you might see its heartbeat and realise it’s your baby’. They were unable to find the pregnancy and offered to take me to the Beacon Hospital to have a scan but I was defiant that I had paid for my scan with Reproductive Choices and that I needed to go.

Reproductive Choices

I went to Reproductive Choices and explained to them what happened. The midwife I had was lovely. She showed me all her certs that qualified her to use sonograms, as well as her nursing certs.  She even made me a cup of sweet tea before scanning me. I was given the choice if I wanted to see the scan or not. I agreed, but it didn’t affect my decision. At this stage I was so anxious and upset that my blood pressure was high and I was advised to come back another day because the pregnancy was very early.

An hour later, the women from Gianna Care rang me and apologised for waiting outside, stating they ‘know how I feel’ and that it’s a difficult time for me. I told them I would keep pregnancy and thanked them for everything because I was terrified that they would hunt me down. I blocked their number and thankfully, I haven’t heard from them since.

When I returned to Reproductive Choices for a second visit, I brought my friend along with me.

I’ll never forget the feeling of walking up Berkeley St. that day. I thought I was going to get sick. I swapped coats with my friend, wore big sunglasses and a head scarf over my head in case I bumped into the same women; thankfully I didn’t.

Traveling to Manchester

A week later I had made my way to Manchester with a friend to have a medical abortion. I was just 7 weeks pregnant at this time.  We were collected in a taxi with 3 other women I had seen on the same flight from Dublin; complete strangers on this lonely journey together.

Once I had my treatment, I had 4 hours to wait for my flight back home. I planned to go to Manchester City to help pass the time but the midwife was adamant that I must return to the airport immediately after the last dose as it can come into effect very quickly.  She was right, The treatment started to take effect in the taxi to the airport.  I felt awful.  I was in so much pain. 

The 8th Amendment made me wait in an airport whilst in the worst pain my life for 4 hours. I just wanted to be home in Ireland in my own bed.  Instead I had to ask businessmen to give me their seats so I could curl into a ball and wish this would all end. 

Incomplete Abortion

I was advised to attend an aftercare appointment when home in Ireland, but I had completely lost faith in all agencies in Ireland.  Shortly after my termination, I was admitted to hospital from an incomplete abortion. This could have been avoided if I had gone for an aftercare scan but the stress of it all was too much. The thought of seeing those women from Gianna Care again was too upsetting.

It’s bad enough being in a crisis pregnancy and having to leave the land I love to receive basic human rights. To actually scare monger me to the point where I felt I couldn’t get aftercare because I’d have to face people from a rogue crisis pregnancy counseling agency again is disgraceful.

My story was not easy to write down but I want other women to read this so they can beware of these agencies and do their research whilst seeking a termination. Be safe always.

Artist: Martina Gleeson.

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