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A Word in Your Ear

When I was 30, I realised I had to make a decision. Post university I had spent years alternating between intervals of unemployment and work that paid less than I needed to support myself so I was constantly returning home to be subsidised by my parents – a situation that shamed me. It had become perfectly clear that I would have to leave Northern Ireland in order to find self-supporting work. I considered two options. Moving to the Republic of Ireland or to England.

That was 1983, the year of the Irish Abortion Referendum. The result of the 1983 referendum was a landslide against abortion. The Irish, including Irish women had spoken. A pregnant woman’s life was now hostage to a fertilised egg in a country whose social and religious values dictated that a married woman had no right to refuse sex, and neither the man nor woman was expected…

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