There is a great piece here
about the latest horrific development in the ongoing Irish abortion debate. I'd love to say I'm shocked that something so horrific has happened but I'm not, it was frankly inevitable. The line that stood out for me the most from the piece was this:
"But those who are pregnant and suicidal will not go to these panels, the risk is too great."
That is pretty much were we find ourselves with the current Irish law on abortion in Ireland. Women who find themselves in desperate situations will do desperate things rather then seek professional medical help. This is not a new development either, this has become the standard Irish reaction. Over twenty years ago a 14 year old girl was raped and her family took her to England for a termination. Before the planned abortion was carried out, her father, who foolishly wanted his child's rapist to be punished for his crime, asked the Irish police if DNA from the aborted fetus would be admissible as evidence in the courts. That was when the shit hit the fan so to speak, a high court injunction was put in place and a terrified, rape victim was dragged back to Ireland before the abortion could take place and the whole country lost its god damn mind. We've had two referendums since then both of which supported limited access to abortion in Ireland but until a woman died in an Irish hospital from the refusal of a termination that would have saved her, no Irish government would implement policy to reflect the results of those two referendums.
With their hand forced we had a sort of policy for limited abortion finally put in place but of course it's an utter mess and joke and what's the result? Another rape victim being put through hell.
I've been fortunate never to find myself in that situation and I'm well aware how lucky I am that if I did find myself there I have the support and the means to go around the government and not have to risk dealing with Irish law. I have had friends who confided in myself and others when they first discovered they were pregnant and for various reasons they felt they couldn't go through with the pregnancy. Friends who got advice from co-workers and randomers online about were to buy over the counter abortion pills or about drinking certain mixtures of household cleaning products in order to induce a miscarriage. This is the kind of information that is out there for desperate people. Thankfully none of my friends went down this road, some chose to go through with the pregnancy and some opted to travel to England for a termination but all had the support of family and friends and all the options offered to them so they could make the choice that they wanted.
I wasn't brought up in a massively pro-choice household but both of my parents ended up supporting access to abortion because they could see that they had no right to enforce their views on other people. My mother is a GP, she views herself as neither pro-life or pro-choice, she does what she thinks is best for her patients and rightly believes it is not her place to judge. My father was very pro-life for many years. He voted no in both referendums on the topic but then he went to work overseas. He went to several developing countries and saw the conditions women there had to deal with. He saw the results of back yard abortions and saw what desperate people would do when backed into a corner. He was never someone who openly supported abortion but he knew he had no right to dictate to others what happened to their bodies and regretted voting no.
The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland bans abortion but the majority of the people that document effects weren't even born when it was signed into law. Miss X had a miscarriage thanks to the public exposure of her case and was branded a whore and slut by the pro-life movement (her rapist, by the way, got 3 years in prison and when released kidnapped and raped another teenage girl), Savita Halappanavar died and thousands of Irish women travel to the UK each year and the few that try to work with the Irish system are treated no better then cattle. To be an Irish women right now feels like a joke.
In a little over a month it will be seven years since my father passed away. I remember my father for a great many things but the one thing I and many who knew him know was that was so damn proud to be Irish and he made me want to be proud to be Irish but today I'm finding it very very hard.