I have been a bit absent from my blog a bit, and I know that I have not posted a meal plan in a while. The truth is I have been preoccupied by a few things over the past few weeks and one big part of that is the upcoming referendum on repealing the 8th amendment. I’ve been trying to find the words to post on here for a while now, and I know this will not be as eloquent as some, but I feel that I need to get this out there ahead of Friday.
I have been sharing a lot of stuff over on my Facebook and Instagram pages that make my feelings on the issue very clear. I am very much pro Repeal and will be voting yes on Friday. I know this is an emotional issue, and I have had my emotions go through the ringer over the past few weeks. I have gotten angry, I have been anxious, worried, scared and I have cried. The 8th Amendment was added in 1983, 35 years ago and I will be turning 34 this summer. So for as long as I have been alive there has been a restriction on my medical care. As I have never been pregnant, I have never really known what this has meant and my pro-choice stance has always been based on my belief that a woman should have the right to choose if she wants to carry and give birth to a baby, regardless of the circumstances of its conception. However, since the tragic and awful death of Savita Halappanavar, I have heard countless tragic and heart-breaking stories of just how many ways this amendment truly affects the women and families of Ireland. My reasons for being pro-choice have deepened greatly.
In terms of my original reason for being Pro Choice, I genuinely believe a woman should have a say in what happens in her body. Pregnancy happens in so many different scenario’s and there are so many reasons why a woman may consider an abortion. Who really is to decide what is a ‘valid’ reason and what is not. I agree that an abortion is never an ideal scenario, and in an ideal world we would not have any unwanted pregnancies. But we do not live in an ideal world. No contraceptive is 100% effective, access to contraception is an issue and we have a long way to go to improve our sex education in schools. For those that do find themselves in a situation of a unplanned or crisis pregnancy, we need to provide better support for these women so that less feel abortion is the only option for them. We need to give them other, real practical solutions that can be presented alongside the option of abortion so that people can make a choice, and the choice that is right for them. It is never going to be an easy choice, or one made on a whim, but it can be made easier with more support for whatever option is right for the woman. I know not everyone agrees with abortion for these (varied and valid) reasons, but the fact is they are happening. Women travel every day, women import the pills and take them in their homes alone and scared. We should be supporting these women and making it safe for them. Ensure they do not feel alone and that they do have options, but equally the option they have chosen is valid.
For what the No side like to call the ‘Hard Cases’ (I am not sure there is such a thing as an ‘Easy Case’), but let’s look at the instances of Rape & Incest. We need to have compassion for the victims in these scenarios. I am aware not all victims will choose this path, but the option should be there. We should not be looking to prolong their suffering or make it worse. Not every victim wants to disclose the cause of their pregnancy, or discuss it with anyone. And why should they have to? The reason the 12 weeks without disclosure of reason is being proposed is to cater for these victims, they have already had their choice and control taken away from them, so we need allow them the compassion and respect to decide for themselves without adding them to their trauma.
We have read and heard from so many women who have suffered the devastation of a FFA and how one of the most difficult time in a person’s life has been made that much worse by the 8th Amendment. For those women who get comfort from carrying these pregnancies to term for the chance of a few precious moments with their child, they get all the support they need here at home as it should be. For those who feel that is not right for them, who can’t carry a doomed pregnancy to term. Who can’t deal with the questions from friends, co-workers & strangers about due dates where they have to verbalise the pain they are going through or lie and brush off the question. For those who have families to care for and other children to consider. For those that feel allowing a child to be born into a short life of pain and suffering is not compassionate or right. For those, we offer them nothing but the option to travel. The stories of these families are nothing but heart-breaking. Women who have to travel alone as their family cannot afford to go with them. Families who have to leave their babies behind and have remains couriered back, or smuggle these remains back in their car. We need to give these women and their families back their dignity and allow them the right to deal with their tragedy in the best way for them.
Currently the only way and abortion can be performed is if there is ‘real and substantial risk’ to the life of the mother. That leaves it up to our doctors to determine how sick we let a woman get before the risk of death is real and substantial. For women suffering miscarriages, they must wait until the either the heart has stopped beating or some sort of infection has set in before they can intervene. And in the case of some infections, waiting for this to develop can be disastrous. In other countries, where a miscarriage like this presents the women are given the choice of waiting or allowing doctors intervene to speed up the inevitable. For some women with existing conditions, the risks to their health change and increase during pregnancy. Some medication is not compatible with pregnancy, some treatment plans and some medical tests such as MRI’s cannot be performed during pregnancy or certain times during pregnancy. For the majority of medical procedures and treatments, men and women are given a say in what risk they are willing to take with their health. The doctors present the facts and a choice is made. This right is taken away from women during pregnancy. For some women, they are willing to wait to be a deaths door for the chance of having a baby. For others, the bar is set lower. Neither woman is given the option here, there are no choices given as the doctors must act according to the 8th. Why do we not give women the trust, dignity and respect to have a say in their healthcare during pregnancy.
I am voting yes on Friday because I trust women to make the right decisions for themselves. I trust that they will listen to the medical advice presented and be able to decide what is best for them. I trust that if a women says she cannot continue with a pregnancy then there is a valid and good reason for that which is quite frankly none of my business. The women of Ireland are so much more than baby makers. The change will not take away the choice of women to continue their pregnancies, every day people have much loved and much wanted babies and repealing the 8th amendment will not change that. So on Friday let’s prove that as a country we respect women to know what is best for them.