Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Abortion is not a black or white issue
Let’s get a few things out of the way: I am pro-choice. But I wasn’t always. I was too young to vote in 1983 when the 8thamendment was inserted into the constitution but if I had a vote then I would have voted yes. I am still pro-life but in the intervening years something happened: I grew up. My views changed from the views of a child to those of an adult. I know now that life is not simple or perfect and it definitely isn’t black or white. Life is messy and stressful and painful sometimes and I have come to the conclusion that kindness and compassion – two highly underrated attributes in my view – are all that matters.
Those in favour of retaining the 8th amendment now are operating in a black and white world. A world that even they know does not exist. They operate in a world where mothers are cherished and where babies are born to warm, fluffy, welcoming families, where no one is hurt, or poor, or beaten, or frightened, or desperate. This is dishonest. There are as many shades of heartache and terror facing many women and awaiting many babies as there are grains of sand in the ocean and to espouse a black or white choice is not kind or compassionate – or honest.
They tell us that womens lives are not put in danger by the 8thamendment – now I’m sorry to burst their bubble (not thatthey will accept it) but that is blatantly not true. A pregnant womans’ very life must be threatened before intervention is allowed under the 8th. Not her health, not her sanity, not her ongoing ability to care for her born children but her actual life. This has led in some cases to the loss of womens’ lives directly as a result of the 8th amendment. A miscarrying foetuswith a fading heartbeat takes precedence unless its mother is actually dying; DYING. Right now because of the 8thamendment there is zero legal or medical clarity as to how ill is ‘dying’. Obstetricians and gynaecologists are forced into the courts in some instances and what doctor is going to risk 14 years in prison? No doctor or mother should even have to consider this in those circumstances. It is a ridiculous and incredibly unkind and compassionless state of affairs and cannot be allowed to continue.
What happens between a woman and her doctor when they close the door of the surgery is no-ones business but hers. No other person should have their noses (or their morals) in that space. They should not have the right. We should not have that right.
Finally (I have to keep this short) those who claim that the 8thsaves lives are making it up. It is as simple as that. Irish women have abortions every day. In Ireland they have them in their bedrooms, in their bathrooms. If they can afford it, they travel and have them in our nearest neighbouring country. So please do not think that you are saving babies by voting to keep the 8th amendment. All you are voting for is a continuance of the situation where desperate women will self-medicate - alone and unsupported - with no medical supervision, on bathroom floors on your street and on my street and all over this country. Or if they have no money or access to the internet they will fashion dangerous implements; or throw themselves down the stairs - as they have since time immemorial. Where is the compassion in that? No wonder the UN said we were inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on women. All we’re salving by voting no to the removal of the 8th amendment is our own self-righteousness.
There are those who will say that I’m in denial, or not dealing with the reality. I have seen the videos, the posters, thehorrific reality of abortion and still, I choose women. I choose living, born, breathing, sentient, thoughtful, desperate women over the foetuses which are wholly and totally reliant on them for their very existence. I salute those who choose to carry to term despite their varied circumstances but I cannot and will not force those who can’t – on pain of 14 years in prison for Gods sake! – to continue a pregnancy that for whatever reason that is personal and particular to them, to do so.
I have grown up. I hope my country has too. I hope we find it within our hearts to leave the woman close the door to the doctors’ surgery and make whatever decisions she has towithout our zealous judgement. I hope we are mature enough to trust her and to stay outside that door. That is the kind and compassionate decision.