Irish women who've had to travel overseas for an abortion are going public for the X-ile Project

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Jenny Noyes

Irish women who have gone public about having travelled overseas to access safe abortion.

Irish women who have gone public about having travelled overseas to access safe abortion. Photo: X-ile Project

Irish women who have been forced to travel to the UK to access safe abortion are going public, putting their faces online in a bid to break the stigma and speak out against Ireland's near-total abortion ban.

So far, eleven women have signed up to go public on their abortions as part of the X-ile Project, which was launched on Thursday to coincide with World Human Rights Day. Five women are behind the initiative - Julie Morrissy, Ruth Morrissy, Paula Cullen, Laura Lovejoy, and Katie O'Neill. 

According to a statement on the project website, their aim is to "give much-needed face" to women and transgender men "who have effectively been exiled from Ireland and ignored due to unduly strict abortion laws.

"We aim to demonstrate that those who choose to travel to have an abortion are responsible, ordinary women and are our neighbours, friends, colleagues, mothers, daughters and partners."

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The X-ile Project says more than 170,000 women have left Ireland to access abortion, and they are leaving at a rate of 12 women per day. 

Abortion in Ireland is illegal, except where pregnancy presents a "real and substantial risk" to the mother's life, and doctors may refuse to provide advice on accessing a termination on religious grounds. Women who have illegal abortions can face 14 years prison. 

Julie Morrissey told Buzzfeed that after living in Canada, returning to Dublin a year and a half ago she was "overwhelmed by the stigma attached to abortion in Ireland."

"I was shocked and angry to come back to see women's rights like this in 2015," she said. 

"It is the time to confront the abortion issue in Ireland and to build toward a more progressive future where women are heard, respected and trusted," the statement says.