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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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Lake Bled, Slovenia

ImageI was looking through old holiday photos, and came across this stunning photo I took from Lake Bled Slovenia.

Last May I was lucky enough to do an inter-rail around Europe with a few friends. For those that don’t know, an inter-rail is basically travelling around Europe by trains. Among many of the places we visited was the remote area of Lake Bled in Slovenia. We were originally only supposed to stay for two nights, but we loved it so much we extended our stay to three.

Contrast to some of the bustling cities like Berlin and Amsterdam that we had already seen, Lake Bled was scenic and peaceful. The cinematic views are enough to win anyone over.

While some might turn their nose up at Lake Bled as a holiday destination, there is actually loads to do. For instance we went white water rafting (which was an experience in itself! capsizing in a rapid flow downstream was quite the adventure), biking around the area, hiking through the forest, and of course swimming in the lake.

For someone who isn’t exactly the “outdoorsy” type, I definitely enjoyed myself! It was refreshing to try something new. Our hostel doubled up as a bar so there was plenty of entertainment in that department also!

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There was some lovely restaurants around the area also, with food to suit everyone. We found a lovely little Mexican restaurant just 5 minutes from where we were staying.There is even a little sand area at one side of the lake with deck chairs where you can lie and sip a cocktail in the sun. The Slovenians are so friendly and welcoming and suggested lots for us to do.

Even if you prefer the excitement of the city, Lake Bled is definitely a place you should  consider visiting sometime! 🙂

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