As I sit at my laptop to write this piece, in March 2018, it is still illegal for a woman to obtain an abortion in Ireland. For those of you who know little of Irish politics, there is no need to reread that first sentence. It wasn’t a typo. In this, the 21st century in a country which prides itself on its inclusivity; the first country in the world to vote yes in a referendum for gay marriage, a country which is seen as one of the corporate capitals of the world, a host to advanced technology, a “modern” country, a woman who falls pregnant and for reasons that are quite frankly nobody else’s business, feels she can not continue her pregnancy, has no access to a safe and legal abortion in her home country.
The fact that a girl or woman of any economic or social background, under any circumstances can not gain access to a procedure that in this day and age is a human right, and often lifesaving, is not only shocking, but heartbreaking. I also regret to say that there is such negative stigma around abortion in this country that those who choose to travel to have a termination are made to feel guilty, as though they have committed an atrocious crime, that when they return it is something that is not spoken about. It is swept under the rug, never to be mentioned again.
The turmoil and anxiety that goes into making a decision to terminate a pregnancy is something I cannot even imagine. It is not a subject to be taken lightly, and from reading accounts of women and girls who have gone through this procedure, it certainly is not an easy decision. The fact that females on this small island are not only having to go through the phases of deciding on an abortion, but they then have to board a plane to a different country (often alone due to the cost of flights) is completely and utterly wrong. That they have to go through this traumatic event and return home to no proper after care is disgraceful. The sadder thing is there are those who can’t make it across the Irish Sea and therefore pose great risks to their health, and face imprisonment by purchasing illegal abortion pills online. No woman in a place which prides itself on being an open-minded nation should be treated like this, no woman should be denied a basic medical right.
For these reasons I am pro-choice. Lets make one thing clear, being pro-choice is not being “pro-abortion.” Pro-Choice realises that abortion is not as straightforward as A,B,C. It is not something a woman seeks casually, it is a huge decision. But if a woman feels she can not provide for, cannot financially support a child, is not in the proper mental state, or downright does not want to carry out her pregnancy, then she should have the CHOICE to terminate HER pregnancy in her HOMELAND. It is HER body, NOT the States, NOT the Catholic Church’s, it is HERS!
To be extremely honest, I’m ashamed (and very embarrassed) that this is an issue that even needs to be brought to debate and needs to be repealed through a referendum. Abortion should have been made available to women many years ago. When the United Nations has vocalised its condemnation of the Eighth Amendment, “UN says Ireland’s abortion ban ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading.’” Irish Times, June 2016, then it is obvious there is something fairly wrong about this part of our Constitution.
So on this International Women’s Day 2018 with the theme being #PushForProgress, please educate yourself on the Eighth Amendment and the fatal effects it has had on the girls and women of our country. Stand up for your sisters, daughters, cousins, friends, aunts, granddaughters, nieces, all females of Ireland and vote to Repeal the Eighth this May.
It is important to Repeal the Eighth for all future generations, may they never have to face the trauma and turmoil that has been endured by the women of Ireland for decades. Women should have a choice in how their body is treated in their own country. If you don’t agree with abortion, then don’t have one. It’s really that simple. Everyone has the right to their own beliefs and opinions, but no one has the right to take choice away from anyone else.
The Choice is all we’re asking for.
P.S. I am very aware that abortion affects both men and women, and men have a huge role to play in repealing the 8th Amendment but, seeing as it’s International Women’s Day, I decided to write this blogpost in the context of a woman and the issue of repealing the 8th, no offence intended lads.
I have devised a small list of some helpful websites and groups that can help understand the Pro-Choice movement, and why it’s so important to Repeal The Eighth.
In Her Shoes – Accounts from those who have had to travel abroad for abortions.
xoxo – “Yer Wan”, Jessie