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Why I Believe Choice is Important

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 eighth amendment. Amidst all of the activism and campaigning I’ve seen, I’ve largely stayed silent on my views. I did write a post a while back advocating that both sides should respect one another’s views, and I still stand by that. 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 the 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. 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 Eighth 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 Eighth 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 Eighth literally forces women into sub ordinance. 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 invokes a fear that women are going to be aborting babies en masse. 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 retardations? 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. Bottom line, we need very clear legislation and we slowly making our way towards change.

Last week 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. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with regards to a referendum/new laws surrounding abortion, but I can only hope the outcome will be positive.

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.

~J

 

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Repeal The 8th- Without the hate!

This is probably going to be one of my more controversial posts, of which there are few, but I feel I can’t stay quiet on the issue for much longer. It seems as if everyone and anyone is giving their two cents worth on social media these days, so I thought why not give mine. People are going to jump down your throat either way.

Repeal the 8th. Lets talk.

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Firstly let me make clear that personally I am pro-choice. I have always been pro-choice. I believe that every single woman should have the right to choose. But for goodness sake ladies what happened to respecting one another’s views, morals and beliefs? The fact of the matter is both sides of this campaign need to stop vilifying one another. The funny thing is, (and I did not expect this) but most of it seems to be coming from the pro-choicers. Which not only makes me sad, but ashamed of the turn this campaign has taken.

Over the last number of weeks I have been appalled at the amount of people I’ve seen shot down, shouted over, and dismissed simply because they are not pro-choice. What happened to engaging in mature debate?

Girls; I understand you’re passionate. I understand your drive for change, and believe me I understand you’re angry. But the way some (not all) of the campaigners are handling it is just largely counter-productive. Telling Sally she is a “backward bitch” because she is a strong advocate for pro-life isn’t strengthening your cause. That is something I’ve actually seen. A long with “old fashioned views” “catholic propaganda” and so on and so forth.

We need to be able to participate in dynamic discussions with people to make a real change. Oh and another thing? (you’re all going to hate me for this), But men matter too. Yep. They have an opinion on this too, and just because they don’t have ovaries does not mean they should be treated with any less respect. It takes two to tango, so why shouldn’t a man be able to have an opinion when it comes to the issue of abortion? It’s not as simple as a women’s bodily rights. Scream at me all you want, but it isn’t.

Sure it’s the woman’s physical body, and she absolutely 100% deserves to have full control over what happens to it. But the life inside of her doesn’t belong to just her. So forgive me when it makes my blood boil to see other women dismissing men whenever they try to engage in this issue.

There are so, so many elements of it to consider that are just continuously being overlooked (by both sides), to suit their own agendas. The mob mentality is growing on social media and it needs to stop. I have many friends, that for their own reasons are very much pro-life, but I would never dream of jumping down their throats in the manner in which I’ve seen.  Myself and my friends have had a number of discussions on the matter, in which everyone’s points were listened to and taken on board. You’d be surprised at how much you could learn by just shutting your gob for ten minutes and respecting what someone else has to say.

You don’t have to agree with it, but you have to accept that this is an extremely complex and sensitive issue, you aren’t going to convince everyone. Stop belittling those that are just as passionate about something as you are. Change isn’t going to happen via condescension.

Yes I would love nothing more than to #RepealThe8th, but in a manner which is considerate of the beliefs of my opponents.

Rant over.