Next Friday the people of Ireland are voting whether or not say Yes or No on the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution which gives the unborn child equal right to life as the mother (as adopted in 1983). That’s putting it in very simple tones. Abortion has been criminalized in Ireland since 1861 and what the 8th Amendment really does is give the unborn child more rights than the mother. The only way a woman is allowed to have an abortion is if she is going to die from having the child and even that isn’t always taken into consideration.
From The Conversation.com:
Instead of stopping abortion, what the 8th actually prevents is doctors intervening to protect the health of their patients if that would jeopardise foetal life. It prevents elected and accountable politicians from making laws to respond to real-life need. It says that as long as a woman is still alive when her child is born the state has done its duty to her and, more importantly, to her child.
There are so many fantastic articles out there right now about it and here are a few:
I’m not Irish and I can’t vote but I’ve been following along very closely because it seems unbelievable to me that this is still a freaking issue.
So here is my story:
Oonagh was a planned c-section because I had already had two c-sections in the last four years and the risks were too great. But I went into labour early and while I was lying on the operating table the Obstetrician called everyone over to see how my uterus was being held together by a thin piece of skin that “looks like stretched Saran Wrap.”
“Another 20 minutes and both mom and baby would have died, good thing we got her on the table.”
It turned a happy moment into something traumatizing.
Then the Obstetrician asked if I was planning on having my tubes tied. Since we had already decided that this would be our last baby I said that I was.
“Good.” She replied. “I’m taking out extra because you can never, ever do this again.”
I was later told that should I get pregnant (the chance was small but still a possibility) I would not be allowed to carry that baby to term.
And you know what, the thought still makes me really sad. Not because I have an overwhelming desire for another baby but because I just love my husband so much and my daughters so much and, lets face it, we are really good at this whole baby making thing. But my option was abort or carry to term and most likely leave my family without a wife or mother.
Imagine right? Oh wait, I can easily imagine because two years later I was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
You know who else usually shouldn’t have babies? Terminal cancer patients. An attempt to do so would most likely leave my family without a wife or mother.
Sensing a theme here?
Women in Ireland have been denied abortions even if they are terminally ill. They are denied medical treatment if there is a chance that treatment will harm their baby because doctors hands are tied due to legalities and both doctor and mother can face up to 14 years imprisonment.
But here is a different story.
When I was 19 and ridiculously in love with my then-boyfriend we got really drunk one night at a Christmas party after being apart for months. The next morning was a hungover, panicky did we or didn’t we debate (most likely did). We went to a walk-in clinic and got the morning after pill and then went to Subway and got a meatball sub that I ate half of and puked up. I don’t know what the morning after pill is like these days (this was over 20 years ago) but back then it was kind of like taking a whole bunch of birth control at once. The doctor told us that I most likely wasn’t pregnant even if we did because of the time in my cycle but he gave me the choice to do what I felt comfortable with. The pills made me sick and my boyfriend slept in my parents basement that night because he was worried about me but to be honest I have thought more about that disgusting meatball sub over the years than I have about this incident. We dated for six years after that and were always super cautious and never had a scare again. Now we have children with other people and great lives and once in a while we will email each other about kids books (mostly Harry Potter). All because I had a choice.
The woman in both of these stories deserves equal rights to a choice no matter what the reason.
So why is this bothering me so much since I don’t even live in Ireland? Well, what I do live in is a fairly conservative province with a known anti-abortion activist who is the leader of the United Conservative Party and wants to be our next Premier. There are also people who leave anti-abortion propaganda in my mailbox as they troll the neighbourhood. The mailbox that my children excitedly check daily. My front lawn looks like I run a daycare so if these people really cared about children they would not leave their hate literature in the mailbox of a home that is over run with children.
Also, these pamphleteers are usually older women – why? Why you gotta love God more than your own sex ladies? But maybe that is a different conversation.
If you believe that women should have autonomy over their bodies then any reason for an abortion does not matter and is none of your business. It certainly isn’t my business and it really really isn’t the Church’s or politicians business. And let’s be honest, it really isn’t men’s business either. At what point in history has a group of women ever sat around making decisions about men’s reproductive rights?
So I care what is happening in Ireland because I care about what is happening to women all over the world. A Yes vote doesn’t just effect women in Ireland – it effects women every where because every time a woman is given more power over her own body the scales balance out just a little more for all women.