Thursday, 23 February 2017

Abortion. Where do you stand?

     (Photo cred Twitter: @repealproject)

It is a controversial topic: Abortion and everything that goes with it.
A taboo subject that not many are willing to talk about openly 

It wasn't until recently when I had a conversation with a very brave woman who had an abortion that it really got me thinking about how little I knew on the subject and in reality how deep this topic goes, far beyond the initial abortion process.   

I never spoke with someone who has had an abortion. Then again maybe I have and just didn't know, it's not like people wear a badge or look any different and for some its not something they want to shout from the rooftop. But it struck me how real the problem of accessing abortion is. I know it has been a problem for years I'm aware it is not ground breaking news, but sitting in front of me this woman told me her story and I finally had a face to one of the thousands of women who made and continues to make the decision to have an abortion. It made it more personal even though it hadn't happened to me.

38 women left Sligo in 2015 to avail of Legal Abortion services in the UK, according to Statistics given by the UK Department of Health and more than 3400 women made the trip to England to avail of Legal Abortion services in 2015.

Did you know that an abortion can cost anywhere from €500 to €1600 and that's not factoring in the price of travel? I was blown away by this cost. Call me naive or stupid if you want, but I just assumed that it cost a couple of hundred, €300 at max. Even abortion pills can cost anywhere from €500 and up.

I'm not sure where I am going with this blog post I just feel like I want to speak about this topic, something that has divided the country especially in the last few months.

Pro-choice, anti-choice, pro-abortion, anti-abortion, Pro-Life,  Free safe legal,  wherever you stand on the subject, whatever your views on the subject I feel like everyone should be informed on the matter: both sides of the argument. I asked a friend to go with me to a protest awhile ago and she answered me honestly saying she wasn't informed enough to go and I was glad she was honest enough to say it instead of jumping on a band wagon she was unfamiliar with.  

Let me make one thing clear: I want women to be allowed to legally have abortions in Ireland.

I have always said that I personally would never have an abortion but I have no problem supporting another woman having one, whatever her reasons maybe. But since speaking with someone who has had an abortion it really threw me.

We hear of all these women that make the journey or sit at home and take the pills on their own and it got me thinking of the reality of what I would do if at 25 I happened to fall pregnant.

At the end of the day I can no longer honestly say I wouldn't have one.
As of right now my life is no were near ready for a baby, I can barely afford my own life never mind factoring in another human being. So if I got pregnant what would I do? It is a decision I hope I am never faced with but if I do it is sad to think that my country wouldn't support my decision of abortion if that was my wishes. I have a contraceptive implant in my arm but at the end of the day, pregnancy can happen no matter how careful you are as nothing is 100 percent.  

I have heard a lot recently that 'oh yeah a woman should be allowed have an abortion if'......."if she gets raped, if the baby has fatal foetal abnormalities, if this, if that....." 

But why do we have to have these if's and buts?

if a woman is raped and gets pregnant she should  be allowed to have an abortion if she wishes.  if a woman has sex, the condom rips and she gets pregnant she should be allowed to have an abortion if she wishes.
if a woman has sex, her contraceptive pill fails to work, she gets pregnant, she should be allowed to have an abortion if she wishes. 
if a woman has sex, gets pregnant and she believes she can't economically afford to have a baby she should be allowed to have an abortion if she wishes. 
if a woman who gets pregnant and simply does not want a baby then she should be allowed to have an abortion if she wishes.
if a woman wants an abortion, she should be allowed to have one regardless of the circumstances.
if a woman wants to do it, she should be allowed. 

she should be allowed have an abortion if.she.wishes.

how can you say one woman is entitled to an abortion and another woman is not? this game of circumstances is a vicious one and something I had once fought the reason for repeal. I explained to family members 'but what if I got raped' when instead there should have been no but's or if's..
how about instead the simple statement should be 'what if I just don't want a baby'.
The Consequences 

Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, 2013: A person who is guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, or both. 


Section 2 of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990: sets out the law in Ireland on sexual assault. A sexual assault is an indecent assault on a male or a female. The maximum sentence is 10 years imprisonment or 14 years if the victim is aged under 17 years. 

If you look at these side by side both carry the same weight of sentence: 14 years for aborting a baby that let's say has been conceived by rape VS 14 years for the person causing the rape. how does it make sense. Both punished for a crime committed by one.  

The following excerpt is from the in 2014 and you can read the full article here. This piece confirms that even if you are at risk to yourself, your own word is not enough and three people have to decide that for you: A veterinarian will abort a calf if a cow is falling ill. How is it that livestock is worth more to this land than us? (We Face This Land, 2016.)

The only exception is when there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother. This includes a risk arising from a threat of suicide.  Three doctors – two psychiatrists and an obstetrician – must examine the woman and jointly decide that there is a risk to her life that can only be averted by a termination of the pregnancy, having regard to the need to preserve unborn human life.
One of the psychiatrists is seen first. If he/she believes the woman’s condition “satisfies the requirement of the Act”, then she will see the second psychiatrist who must agree with the first if an obstetrician is to become involved.
The Health Service Executive said it can ensure this process happens in a “timely manner”.
It is illegal in Ireland to have an abortion in the case of lethal foetal abnormality. It is also illegal to carry out an abortion in cases of rape and incest. (, 2014.)

When it comes down to the nitty, gritty details and root of why people are so against abortion, its quiet clear isn't it? this isn't always about the un-born child, this is about the sense of control that the state, the churches and men have executed what they believe is their right over women, their bodies and their reproductive organs, something that has been happening for centuries: a violation of our human rights.

The phrase, 'well don't have sex if you don't want to get pregnant' or 'keep your legs shut' is the response I heard time and time again from people who I believe are living a very 'mundane, un-realistic, self-righteous, holier than-thou lifestyle.'
please stop shaming woman and girls for being sexual when all our lives and most likely for the rest of our lives you think you can control and continue to sexualize us.    

Why do people not believe that we as women and people can make the right decision for our bodies and our life? Why in 2017 are we STILL having to fight for the freedom of our own bodies and what we chose to do with them.

The guardian did a study where they found that 95% of women who had abortions believed it was the right decision.

Speaking with the woman who openly and confidently told me about her abortion story, she told me about dealing with regret and abortion, the following statement is from her submission to the Citizens Assembly 2016. 

"Most women/people don't regret their abortions some are happy, relieved, a hundred emotions all at one, but what if I or anyone did regret for a minute, a day, a fleeting week, a torturous year? 

"No one owns regret. It's an emotion.

"The anti-choice side seem to think its a golden key to the abortion debate that they hold in their imaginary superior moral battleground where they are the schoolyard bullies. If one of these anti-choice women who now regrets her abortion so much does then fine, but don't be such a hypocrite to do what you want then tell every other pregnant person what they can or cannot do."

I have read both sides of the argument, I have been attached online by 'Anti-Choice, Pro-Life' keyboard warrior campaigners and I have heard stories first hand of women who on their own made their choice to live their life the way the choose. I am aware I will probably get a torrent of abuse about this online also. 

But before you rip apart someone else's opinion, be informed, have some compassion and maybe put yourself in the shoes of all the thousand of woman, wives,  grandmothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, cousins, friends, enemy's, colleagues and girls that are forced to travel every year, every week and every day, looking for fair medical treatment on other land after being rejected and punished by our own country.  Don't believe its an easy decision for women to make, it's not but for some it is the only decision and it shouldn't be decided by anyone other than them.  

'We Face this land'
by Sarah Maria Griffen
       Centuries ago women accused of witchcraft faced,
Amongst other ordeals, trial by water
Tied to a chair or run under a boat
If she survives the drowning and floats she’s a witch.
If she dies, she’s a woman

We are not witches but if the church and state insist

Then let us be the descendants of all the witches they could not drown

This heirloom of trauma, this curse

This agony of water in order to hold agency over our bodies

Not all of us have survived, the waves do not part

There are no miracles here

When a stethoscope is a crucifix on your belly
How do you have any choice but the water
And fair medical treatment on other shores

A body is a body is a body is a body is a body is a body is a body
Not a house. Not a city. Not a vessel, not a country
The laws of the church have no place on your flesh

A veterinarian will abort a calf if a cow is falling ill.
How is it that livestock is worth more to this land than us?

Eleven women every day leave Ireland seeking an abortion abroad.
We ask for the land over the water. Home over trial. Choice over none. 
For our foremothers, for ourselves, the generations yet to come
Witches or women, these are our bodies which shall not be given up.


*This post does not suggest that anyone should get an abortion, this is a post in reference to my support on Repealing the 8th amendment of the Constitution in Ireland. All views are my own*

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