If you follow me on social media, either via my blog or on my personal accounts, you will see that I have been increasingly vocal regarding the irish referendum this week.
And I guess unsurprisingly I have received a couple of messages questioning my strong views because I’m not irish. That’s right, I’m not. None of my immediate family is irish. I have never lived there. In fact I’ve only ever visited northern ireland for one weekend (side note: definitely something to rectify travel wise!). So why would I care so much?? My answer; why would I not?!
I know it’s what everyone says, but seriously. it’s 2018!! Why are women across the world still not trusted to have autonomy over their own bodies. They cannot make decisions about themselves. Ireland is literally the closest country to the uk and the law is so unbelievably outdated that there are humans refusing other humans life saving treatment. Women are dying, suffering, physically and mentally hurting, because of the decisions of others. Decisions that are made on their behalf and in spite of what they need. And despite the divide in the actual country, the republic of ireland still has influence over the laws in northern ireland, so they do not have the same rights as the rest of the uk. Repealing the 8th amendment could mean that the rights of those in part of the UK are changed to catch up with the rest of us.
I cannot comprehend someone telling me what is right for me and my body and therefore I cannot comprehend keeping quiet about the rights of other women, mothers, sisters, friends, aunties, cousins, that are sentenced to suffer alone, ashamed and in a strange country or a darkened bedroom. That are left to take unimaginable risks to be able to control their bodies. That are quietly bleeding, unable to tell anyone in case they are reported and arrested. That are mentally struggling and recieving no help or support. If a woman was raped and fell pregnant, she could face longer in jail for that the despicable being who raped her. Because please make no mistake, abortions being illegal will never stop abortions. It merely stops safe abortions.
Let me just say that again. A woman could be pregnant as a result of a brutal rape, an event no one would ever forget or fully move on from, but would be expected to carry a pregnancy to term if it occured, and if she made a decision that that wouldn’t be possible, which I don’t know how anyone can argue with, she could face a longer custodial sentence than the person who violently and cruelly raped her. It’s like something out of a television drama, but this is what is facing the lives of every single woman in ireland.
Perhaps the story that stands out the most to me is the utterly tragic story of Savita Halappanavar who in 2012 – a mere 6 years ago – went into a Galway hospital at 17 weeks pregnant. She was miscarrying and the pregnancy turned septic. A miscarriage is a tragic and awful thing to happen and completely impossible to reverse. There was zero percent chance of saving that pregnancy. absolutely impossible. But when doctors scanned Savita, they found that the poor baby still had a faint heartbeat.
That poor baby that sadly would never, ever have the chance to live had the faintest of heartbeats and therefore for those doctors, took precedence over its mother. Savita requested a medical abortion as the natural process was very prolonged, but this was denied as her life was not seen to be in danger. She was denied medical treatment because of a baby who, very sadly, was not going to live. Because of this delay in treatment Savita developed fatal sepsis and died. So when I hear that keeping this archaic and outdated legislation is about saving lives, I really cannot get my head around it. Instead of saving a woman’s life, a life with history and much more potential two lives were lost, one completely pointlessly.
This law is about so much more than just abortions, and whether they are right or wrong. The presence of the 8th amendment is quite simply a source of discrimination against women. It ensures that the health system discriminates against them. That professionals discriminate against them. It ensures that pregnant women are subjected to intense physical examinations against their will. It means that a healthcare professional can decide what a pregnant woman can and cannot do. All this in a country where contraception was illegal until as recently as 1980 and where a percentage of the population still opposes the use of artificial contraception.
Repealing the 8th will allow the regulation of pregnancy. It will mean that women are not psychologically tortured, that they are not forced to leave their homes to travel for treatment, victims of rape and abuse will not become more criminal than the vermin who subject them to it, and that those who tragically have pregnancies that are impossible to survive are not forced to prolong their pain and suffering.
No, I’m not irish. but I am a woman. I care deeply that others may have the same rights, may be trusted to make their own decisions, may know what is best for them and their bodies as I have.
You only have to look at the hashtag #HomeForYes to see how important this is, how far people are traveling to use their vote – as postal votes do not exist for Ireland, nor can you vote if you left Ireland over 18 months ago, even if it was your home for decades.
If by chance you are reading this ahead of the vote and you have the right to vote, I implore you to please vote yes. Vote to trust, vote to change and vote to care. Every single vote for yes matters. Please. Repeal the 8th amendment.
Mrs H xxx