Part of me thinks there’s little point blogging about the current abortion story that is bothering Irish people at the moment. If you are unfamiliar with the salient points of the situation, you can read them here.
There has – rightly, in my opinion – been much outrage around how the young woman at the centre of this case has been treated. There are no winners in this situation – neither the woman nor her baby is better off because she was forced to continue the pregnancy (which was the result of rape) until 24 weeks. The woman herself has been violated in several ways and has had several of her human rights trampled on. But this is Ireland and, apparently, that’s perfectly legal.
The amount of violence that has been visited upon this woman’s body and psyche do not bear thinking about. The wars of a nation are waged on the bodies of women, and this is yet another example of that situation. Time and again I ask myself why Ireland hates women so much – why, as a nation, we hold them in such contempt. Last night, in conversation about this issue, someone said that it’s like living in Saudi Arabia. Sadly, in this instance, that’s not quite true: Women in Saudi Arabia (which was described by a former colleague of mine who used to live there as ‘the largest women’s prison in the world’) have access to safe, legal abortions. In this instance, women in Saudi Arabia are better off, treated with more respect, than women in Ireland.
So, my daughters and I will be taking to the streets again on Wednesday evening (join us if you can). We will be shouting about the need in Ireland for women’s bodily integrity to be respected. We will be demanding the laws around abortion in Ireland be changed. We will demand that the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution be repealed.
I was 17 when I first marched, in Dublin, on a Women’s Rights issue. At that time, we were clamouring just for the right of women to access information regarding abortion. It seemed so ridiculous – even then – that people could be prosecuted for giving women information about how to procure a safe, legal abortion outside this jurisdiction. It is equally ridiculous now, that women still can’t access safe, legal abortions in Ireland.
The last referendum on abortion was in 1983. What this means is that no one under the age of 49 has voted on the issue. What that means is that no one on whom this legislation can impact personally has had a say in the law around it. It’s time to change that. It really is. Because, 23 years later, I can’t believe I’m still protesting this shit.