Why I Marched – Louise O’Neill / Fiona Lawless

Author Louise O’Neill, and healthcare worker, Fiona Lawless, share their viewpoints on the need to repeal. For both, the matter of human rights is foremost.

I support the abortion rights movement because I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I trust that women are capable of making decisions regarding their own bodies and their own lives. Without any interference from other people, least of all the state. I’m also aware that restricting access to appropriate reproductive services has had a hugely detrimental impact on Irish women’s physical and emotional well being. I think it’s our duty to ensure that doesn’t continue in this country.

We have had such a long history in this country of attempting to police women’s bodies. The eighth amendment is a direct descendant of the Mother and Baby homes and the Magdalene Laundries, which were tools used to punish women for expressing their sexuality.  

Repealing the 8th would be a huge step in the right direction, a way for this country to atone for the sins of the past while declaring that we are not going to accept this misogynistic treatment of women in the future.

Most people who are on the fence say that they are ‘okay’ with abortions in the case of rape and fatal foetal abnormality. I am very interested in questioning that further. Because when you say you believe abortion is acceptable in these cases, what you mean is that you do not have a problem with abortion. You have a problem with how the woman became pregnant. It’s worth looking at that and asking yourself – do you really believe that it’s wrong for a woman to have sex for pleasure? Do you think women should only have sex for procreation?

I know some people want to support the campaign but are afraid to speak out for fear of recrimination from family or repercussions at work. While I think it’s vital that we speak out and march, I understand that’s not possible for everyone.

In that case, I would suggest making a donation to the Abortion Rights Campaign. And, lastly, the best way to support the fight for bodily autonomy is to turn up on the day of the referendum and vote to repeal the 8th amendment.

Louise O’ Neill is the multi award winning, best-selling author of Only Ever Yours and Asking For It. Her next two novels, Almost Love, and The Surface Breaks will be published in 2018.

I support [the abortion rights movement] because at the end of the day reproductive rights are a basic human right as set out by Amnesty and the UN. It is frightening to think that should I get pregnant I essentially have no say in how my “treatment” goes. And also, women should not have to travel to access a basic, safe procedure. Especially those women who are already traumatised by a FFA diagnosis, who have been raped etc.

Repealing the 8th means that I have more of a choice. A choice of not being pregnant if I don’t want to be. A choice in my birthing plan should I become pregnant. Choice in prioritising my health and wellbeing should the need arise. And giving this choice to every woman who lives in Ireland.

We are not asking you to have an abortion or even to be in favour of people having an abortion. But at the end of the day I am asking you to trust me with the decision that will have a massive, life long affect on my life. Trust women to make the decision that is right for them, in their circumstances.

I get it, it’s not an easy thing to speak up about, it’s a very emotive subject. But what I would say is just correct the people who are spreading false information. If you can educate one person on it, then that’s an improvement.

– Fiona Lawless, 30, work in healthcare, live in Dublin, hippy at heart, passionate feminist.

The aim of this series is to be a starting point for conversations. We all have a part to play in making our society better. You can make a difference by exercising your vote. If you are unsure whether you are registered to vote or not, make sure you check the register.

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