How These Women Are Ending The Stigma Around Abortion One Photo At A Time

Photo: Courtesy of X-ile Project.
Ireland is home to some of Europe's most restrictive abortion laws, but one group of women in Dublin hopes to change that. The X-ile Project, a new website that launched Thursday, features photographs of Irish women who have traveled outside the country to obtain abortions.

The project was founded by five women in Ireland who want to express support and solidarity with Irish women who have gone to extreme lengths to obtain abortions in countries where such services are legal. According to data from the U.K. Department of Health, more than 160,000 women have traveled to England and Wales between 1980 and 2014 to obtain abortions (not to mention scores of women who have gone to other countries for the procedure).

Laura Lovejoy, one of the X-ile Project's founders, told Refinery29 that the majority of women included in the project obtained abortions in the U.K., though some of them have traveled to other countries, too. She attributes Ireland's strict abortion laws to the influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland, though she told Refinery29 that there are many pro-choice Catholics in Ireland as well.

"A lot of people personally and privately support the relaxing of the abortion laws, but they feel like they can't talk about it, or they feel too ashamed to talk about it," Lovejoy said.

She and the other women behind the X-ile Project hope that by making the issue more visible, they can inspire others to talk about abortion rights in Ireland, too.

...women are taking an overdose of ecstasy tablets to induce an abortion, because police are actually seizing these abortion pills that they're ordering online.

Laura Lovejoy, X-ile project founder
In addition to traveling for abortions, Lovejoy explained, women who don't have the resources to leave the country have resorted to potentially unsafe methods of terminating their pregnancies.

"A lot of people order abortion pills on the internet," Lovejoy said. "I've heard that women are taking an overdose of Ecstasy tablets to induce an abortion, because police are actually seizing these abortion pills that they're ordering online."

Lovejoy said that since the project went live on Thursday morning, the positive feedback both within Ireland and from the international community has been overwhelming.

"We really didn't anticipate such a huge and positive response," Lovejoy said, adding that such a response is encouraging for abortion-reform supporters in Ireland.

Lovejoy also believes that while the majority of politicians in Ireland haven't expressed support for abortion rights, the country's passage of a same-sex-marriage referendum in May "indicates that people in Ireland are becoming more open-minded." That, she said, could bode well for abortion-law reform. Until then, though, women will be forced to resort to unsafe measures or leaving the country in order to obtain abortions.

If you'd like to submit your story to the X-ile Project and be included in its next group of photographs, you can send your name and location, and the group will contact you about arranging a photo shoot for its next collection.

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