You might not know me, but you know others like me. You have friends, family, mothers, aunts, sisters, wives, girlfriends, peers, all of whom have lived a life much similar – in the broad strokes – to mine. You see we’ve lived in the same country but we’ve walked very different paths. We’ve borne witness to the pain the 8th amendment has caused.
When you see us now, you see people who are exhausted. We’re tired of feeling like we have to scream to be heard. And even then we often aren’t. We’re tired of being dismissed and being sent away. I mean that literally. Up and down this country there are remnants of Magdalene laundries. Places to send women who had “disgraced” themselves having children out of wedlock. Up and down this country, women are travelling abroad to access basic healthcare abroad. Healthcare that is not provided at home, even if you are raped, or a child.
In voting No, or in not voting at all, you are condoning what has happened and is still happening. You are voting against the women who are enduring pregnancies knowing when they give birth their child won’t survive. Why would you force someone through that. It’s nothing short of torture to force a women into the position of carrying through such a pregnancy if she doesn’t want to. Imagine carrying a pregnancy you know won’t survive. Think for a second about what pregnancy entails, the physical changes that accompany that. The emotional heartbreak of that situation. Day by day you watch your stomach swell, family rejoicing turning to dust, congratulations from strangers falling on deaf ears – knowing that there won’t be a happy ending this time. Only those who have been through such an experience can have any true knowledge of what that is like. They should be supported not dismissed.
But they are not the only people who need our support. You might have seen posters about people living with disabilities. Well the truth of the matter is, differently abled people need access to healthcare services too. They are not separate to this issue. They are a part of our society. How is limiting their access to healthcare, should they require it, helping them? Genuinely. Stop for a moment and reflect on some of the people that you’ve undoubtedly met in your lifetime. Should those women have to go through with a pregnancy that they potentially aren’t capable of supporting, or even carrying? For many, the physical and emotional cost of a pregnancy might be too much to bear. Should they be forced to continue with one? A no vote, or not voting, on the 8th amendment says that they should. And again, these women are only one section of society who need access.
But sure, perhaps it doesn’t matter to you. You’ll probably head out for pints with the lads, you might meet someone and hook up with her. Perhaps you’ll never see her again. Perhaps she falls pregnant. Are you ready to support her? Are you ready to give up pints with the lads? Are you ready to potentially give up where you live, your home, your friends, your hobbies, maybe even your job? Sit back and think about your current financial situation. If it’s anything like mine, your rent is probably extortionate and set to rise. On your current wages, and expenses could you afford to take care of another person?
I assume, if you’re having sex, and aren’t trying for a family, you’re using contraception. If you aren’t you definitely should be, because legit, that’s hella unsafe. But no contraception is 100% effective. Condoms split, pills, IUD’s, caps, rings, implants etc. can all fail. Should whatever method you and your partner are using fail. Are you ready to become a parent? Because I hope so. At the moment in Ireland, should a person consider a termination they have limited options. Even using the word options here is laughable. Because you can either travel – which not everyone can do. Or take medication, which is currently illegal and comes with a potential 14 year jail sentence.
There’s a strong possibility that you know someone who has had an abortion. And just because you don’t know it, doesn’t make it any less true. You can help those women, and future generations get the medical help they need at home. This is not about harping on about hard cases. Every case is hard. Do you think the women breaking the law to access pills make that decision lightly. They are not laughing as they do so shuttered away from the world in secrecy. The women travelling abroad every single day don’t do so easily either.
On May 25th you’re being asked to vote on the 8th amendment. This is a chance to allow the space to create legislation in Ireland that is supportive and reflective of our modern society. We cannot put any safety measures, supports, or any checks in place if we don’t remove the 8th. We cannot move forward while the 8th remains. It’s sad that this issue has become one of one side pitted against the other. Of people begging for the support of their country. This shouldn’t become a women vs men issue, and this is not the intent of this piece. We need to wake up to the fact that this is a people of Ireland issue. While the 8th hurts one demographic disproportionately – it impacts us all. You have the chance to help make a change.
Now is the time to stand up and drag our country forward. To absorb, to read, to talk. Talk about the 5 women a day taking pills at home without medical supervision, or the 12 who have the means to travel abroad. Talk about the women around you. Talk to them and listen to what they have to say. Actually listen. Take the time to think. And when you do, think about Savita Halappanavar, Aisha Chithira, Michelle Harte, Sheila Hodgers, Amy Dunne, Ms Y, Miss X, Miss P, and A, B, & C, – because they are all women that you shouldn’t know. And yet, you do.
So on May 25th, it’s time to do the right thing. It’s time to vote Yes.