So I usually refrain from posting things of a ‘controversial’ or political nature. There’s no concrete reason for this, I guess it just comes down to the fact that most of our social feeds are littered with this kind of stuff already. Article after article of Trump indulging his inflated ego, horrific images from the devastating war in Syria, sometimes it just becomes too much. So naturally, I try to keep things pretty peachy. Oftentimes we just want to hide away from ‘the issues’, and that’s okay. For a long time I found myself avoiding the news, because it was always ‘bad news’. It’s always something horrible, another terrorist attack, a murder, a natural disaster. It’s very seldom good news is it?
But we can’t bury our heads in the sand all of the time, and I’m starting to realise that. If you have something to say, you should say it. If you have a strong feeling towards something, express it. If the trailblazers of the past had stayed silent, we wouldn’t be where we are today in a number of areas!
Lately in Ireland, the major issue up for contention has been Abortion and repealing the current 8th amendment. Amidst all of the activism and campaigning I’ve seen, I’ve largely stayed silent on my views. This morning I read an article that has inspired me to share my thoughts in a more comprehensive way. You dear reader, might not care or agree with what I’m about to say, but again, that’s okay.
The article I’m referring to was by student Midwife Lucy Kelly, and you can read it here. In the article, Lucy explains how working in an abortion clinic changed her opinion on the matter. Now I assumed from the first few paragraphs that this was going to be another self righteous piece condemning the ‘selfish women who murder their babies’. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. Lucy explains how in fact, the opposite occurred. Working in the clinic made her inherently more sympathetic towards the women who make these heart wrenching decisions. Her words really struck a cord with me and I just felt so compelled to pen a response.
“The thing about pro-choice is that you are stepping back and admitting that actually, you have no say in this situation. This is not your life. This is not your pregnancy.This is not your experience.”
I cannot echo these sentiments enough. I have friends and acquaintances who are pro-life, (some of which may well be reading this) and I respect their views 110%. But what I cannot understand for the life of me, is why anyone would ever want to restrict another person’s choice? I mean I mightn’t necessarily have an abortion myself, but I would like to have the choice. You never know what your circumstances may dictate.
Why are we so reluctant to give women freedom over their own bodies? Why are we blatantly disregarding their fundamental rights? Why are we allowing women to be labelled as criminals? Where is the empathy?
The truth is no one actually wants to have an abortion. It’s not something any woman takes delight in. I can only imagine it is one of the most painful experiences one would ever have to endure. The argument that if legalised, abortion would be used as a method of contraception is quite frankly, ludicrous. Not to mention downright insulting. No one in their right mind is that irresponsible. Whenever I see that reasoning thrown about I cringe to my very core. I mean honestly, what self respecting woman is going to wake up one day and say “fuck it, I’ll just get an abortion if I get pregnant”. I would like to think as human beings we are not that hideous.
“The thing about pro-life is that you are promoting the rights of an unborn fetus you know nothing about, and diminishing the autonomy of a live, grown human being who you also know nothing about”.
The eighth is not protecting anyone in this country. Rather it is fundamentally harming the women in our society, when they are at their most vulnerable. That to me is unforgivable. I read a contrasting article by a woman who chose to continue with her pregnancy, despite being told that her child would not survive a minute outside the womb. I commend this woman for her tremendous, brave and incredibly difficult decision. She remarked that she was so ‘happy the Eighth Amendment was in place. It not only protected [my baby’s] life and mine, it ensured we both received the best standard of care throughout my pregnancy and after’.
Here’s my bone of contention. The 8th did not protect this woman. She made a decision. There was nothing stopping her from making this decision. Ironically, if another woman was in this situation, the 8th would have hindered her decision to choose a different option. See where I’m going here?
Personally, I could not have continued with this type of pregnancy. I couldn’t carry a child for 9 months knowing that there would be no life at the end of it. I’m sure many other women feel the same, and this is why choice is so so important. To the women that don’t agree? The funny thing is, you have a choice.
The 8th literally forces women into submission It is just unfathomable to me that there are people who would vote against choice, in this, and every other situation where abortion is a viable option. To quote Lucy again:
“The idea that women are incompetent and unable to make sound medical and life decisions is as barbaric as beheading peasants for stealing a bowl of stew. The idea that a woman who chooses to terminate her pregnancy is a failure, or made a mistake, is completely ignorant. And the idea that you, as an irrelevant third party to this woman’s life, gets to have a say on what is morally or medically right for this woman and her family, is just plain arrogant”.
You might be asking then, when is it a viable option? and this is where so much of the debate lies. People are afraid of the term ‘abortion on demand’, because it evokes a fear that women are going to be aborting babies en mass. It becomes problematic when people start chiming in with their personal opinions of when and why abortion should be allowed. For instance, I was asked recently do I think people should be allowed to abort children if they have Down Syndrome or other mental/physical defects? I’m aware that this is something that’s happening in Iceland and other places at the moment.
Honestly? In this instance no, I wouldn’t agree with someone aborting for that reason, nor would I do it myself.
My immediate reaction is “that’s awful”, but does that give me the right to judge another person’s decision to do that? Does it mean we shouldn’t legislate for abortion because some might choose to terminate in this instance? It becomes very messy very quickly when we start conjuring up different scenarios. The fact of the matter is none of us really know what we would do in these situations until we are in them. And if and when we are? I believe we should have the widest availability of choice, even if we mightn’t agree with some of those choices.
So put simply, yes I do think people should be allowed abortion if they feel it is the best option for their circumstances, whatever the reason. It’s not for me to take personal offence to. We shouldn’t muddy the waters of bodily autonomy with our own individual morals. Bottom line, we need very clear legislation and we are making our way towards change.
Last year the Irish Citizen’s Assembly voted on 13 reasons for which they feel a termination should or shouldn’t be lawful. Here is a quick glimpse at some of the results:
- 89% voted for women to be legally permitted to abortions if there is likely to be a foetal abnormality likely to result in death, before or after birth.
- 80% voted that there should be no restriction on termination even if there was no risk of death shortly before or after birth.
- 64% of the Assembly agreed that termination should be allowed without restriction as to reasons.
- 72% of the Assembly feel socioeconomic reasons should allow a woman to gain an abortion. But 50% stated a termination in this case needed to take place before 22 weeks.
These results are really interesting to see. I’m glad the Irish people are so open to change. As it stands, we are now a mere 9 weeks away from holding a referendum on the 8th. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the outcome, but I can only hope that it will a positive one. To be honest, if it didn’t pass I’m not sure I would want to continue living in a country where the rights of the unborn are given more weight than the rights of the woman. It breaks my heart to see women treated this way. Look at the case of the 12 year old girl who had to travel to the UK recently for an abortion. The Irish Times reported on the story earlier in the week. You can check it out here. How could anyone force a child to continue a pregnancy?
The #LoveBoth campaign is so hideously ironic. They aren’t loving both at all when they are reducing rape victims to become mere vessels for their attackers offspring, they aren’t loving both when they are forcing 12 women overseas a day to access healthcare they should be afforded here. The propaganda I’ve seen from them is disgusting and frankly dehumanising. Please take the time to educate yourself and don’t believe those sensationalised images and stories that are doing the rounds. You aren’t stopping women from having abortions, they are already having abortions. You are stopping them from accessing it safely, legally and with dignity in their own country.
To sum up, I’ll leave you all with one final quote from Lucy:
“I am with these women. I’m with her. I’m with her whatever choice she makes and I trust her to make the right choice for herself and her family.”
I am with her too.