The aim of this radio project is to illustrate how abortion laws in Ireland affect the recovery of women who must travel to England in order to get the procedure. The inspiration for this idea comes from the death of Ann Lovett in 1984. It has been thirty years since her death. The sale of contraceptives was illegal at the time and the previous year, 1983, saw the introduction of the ‘pro-life’ amendment to the constitution which sought to outlaw abortion in all circumstances. Lovett’s pregnancy and death confronted small-town Irish society with teenage sexuality and unwed motherhood, but these issues were already present in the 1980s. What was new in 1984 was the very public way that the community was forced, by one girl’s personal and painful dilemma, to wrestle with how it defined right and wrong, inclusion and exclusion, punished transgressions from the norm, and negotiated the limits of a community’s responsibility for its most vulnerable members.
Focusing on one young woman’s experience, and how her physical and emotional recovery was hindered by the journey from Ireland to England and back again, I aim to force the Irish public to wrestle with their views.
After Ann Lovett’s death, hundreds of women wrote to the Gay Byrne Show to share their experiences of having children out of marriage. The death of Ann Lovett not only evokes ideas about how mass media allows frightened voices to be heard but also about how our “conversation” with the media is different to how we converse in ‘real-life’.
Although ‘pro-choice’ groups are active in the media, individual case-studies are rarely come by. Particularly, the theme of ‘Recovery’ allows one to comfortably explore an element of this politically and socially charged issue in a way that relates more to fundamental ideas of human rights. I aim to use this to my advantage by encouraging people to engage more with the issue when they previously may have been discouraged by religious conflict, society norms, cultural tradition and a government far removed from the people. The silence of Lovett’s community while hundreds opened up on radio in 1984 may teach us a lesson about how we can utilize media to maximum effect in 2014.
Now is the time for Lovett to be remembered. Hundreds attended a rally late last year in solidarity with the International day of Action for Abortion Rights in Ireland. That same month marked the second anniversary of the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, who directly suffered from Ireland’s abortion laws. R.O.S.A. and the Abortion Pill Train activists have become known in the media for their campaigns to repeal the eighth amendment. I aim to portray one persons story in order to illuminate a moment in time for Ireland.
Written, recorded and edited by Claire, inspired by all at CF.