Donegal woman Dominique Meehan has joined a pro-choice panel to highlight the effect of the Eighth Amendment on survivors of rape.
The 25 year old Letterkenny woman spoke today ahead of the 6th annual March for Choice in Dublin this Saturday, organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign.
Dominique was raped in 2015 at a gaming convention in Dublin. Her rapist was jailed for 12 years last June.
Dominique said: “I represent a quarter of all women in Ireland who have been raped and who have to deal with even the thought of an unwanted pregnancy.
“I told my parents that if I’m pregnant we’re going to England. How is that fair for anyone in my situation, knowing that my own government would look at me as a criminal because I couldn’t carry my rapist’s child?”
Speaking at today’s pre-march press conference, she said she suffered nightmares in the days after her rape, dreaming that she was pregnant.
Dominique said: “In my dreams I watched my stomach swell, I had morning sickness, I even had back pain. I was terrified, more than I have ever been during my attack.”
“That fear is utterly debilitating. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I was feeling my stomach every day to see if it was swelling like it did in my dreams.”
“I told my parents that if I was pregnant I needed to go to England. How is that fair though?
“Can you imagine someone in my position couldn’t be treated by the HSE, that treated me so well, in Ireland they couldn’t treat me here.”
Dominique said she had taken six pregnancy tests before being admitted to the psychiatric unit.
“Everything came out negative, but the stress of believing and thinking to my very soul that I was pregnant still managed to send me into the psych unit. I was suicidal.
“If there were options in Ireland other than having a baby to just send it into a foster system or killing it on my own with alcohol or my own suicide, then I would never have needed to be admitted into the acute psychiatric unit at all.”
“We can’t carry on like this, giving rape survivors no option but to carry their rapist’s child no matter the psychological consequences to the rape survivor.”
The March for Choice will take place on Saturday 30th September at 2pm, beginning at the Garden of Remembrance, Dublin. The March will coincide with the annual Global Day of Action for Safe and Legal Abortion.
The theme of this year’s march is “Time to Act”, which the Abortion Rights Campaign says is a comment on the upcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment and the importance of action for the thousands of people denied abortion services in Ireland over the years.
ARC spokesperson Linda Kavanagh said: “The reality is we have an instrument of violence against women written into our constitution, violence that is enacted every day on all pregnant people in Ireland. The Eighth Amendment has caused untold misery and damage, and it’s time we removed it once and for all.”
Ms Kavanagh said the organisation’s judgement on the announcement of a stand-alone referendum on the Eighth Amendment will be reserved until the wording is made known to the public.
“We have all waited long enough to finally be allowed to make decisions about our own bodies, it’s vital that the government get this right,” Kavanagh said.
Other speakers at today’s conference were Krysia Lynch, Chairperson of AIMS Ireland (Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services) and Bríd Smith, the first TD in Ireland to share her abortion story.