As abortion rights are continually debated in the United States, we're still reminded of what restrictive access looks like through other countries' (relatively) less progressive policies. This is the case in Ireland. Abortion is illegal under Ireland's 8th amendment, except in certain circumstances. This weekend, two Irish women pushed back on the law as they live-tweeted their trip to Great Britain for an abortion.
The account @TwoWomenTravel was created to document the process of trekking to another country to receive reproductive care. The tweets are a sobering reminder of what restricted access of abortion already looks like — around the world (and even in parts of the United States) where women have to travel long distances to reach clinics that provide care. For those of us who live in places where abortion access is not as limited, it can be easy to forget or not fully realize other women's struggles. These tweets serve as a critical eye-opener.
Along the way, the two women took turns tweeting (one received an abortion, and her friend came along as a travel partner for support) about their plane ride, transportation, the clinic where the abortion was performed, and the journey home. They directed many of their tweets to Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, in an effort to bring the hardships created by the law to light. According to the UK Department of Health, in 2015, 3,451 women traveled from Ireland to receive an abortion in the U.K., where it is legal.
In the description of the account, the women acknowledge that the travel time adds up to 48 hours each way to receive care. Several of the tweets were posted twice, which the women explained happened because of poor roaming connection on their phones, highlighting yet another obstacle they faced as they sought care.
In probably the most meaningful tweet of the series, the women posted a picture of her friend's post-procedure bleeding and captioned it with the words "Not the first or the last bleeding women about to face a long trek home." According to the tweets, the women made it back safely to Ireland, after a tiresome journey to receive a medical procedure.
@TwoWomenTravel has gained a share of media attention, including from some celebrities (British comedian James Corden retweeted in solidarity with the women). Hopefully, more women will share their experiences, enough so that these accounts will persuade Irish officials to reconsider the law of the land. And for Americans, hopefully these chilling stories will remind us the fight for abortion access is as crucial now as it has ever been — and it's not limited to domestic battles.