I’m fed up. No, really. Here we are again, with the 8th Amendment making life a misery for a family: Denying her parents the possibility to bury their daughter; denying her children the right to grieve their mother; denying her partner the right to say goodbye to the woman he loved. The sickening details of the case currently making headlines in Ireland are here.
We all know that if this woman had not been pregnant at the time she died, she would have been afforded dignity at the time of her passing. But this is Ireland. So forget that. This woman’s personhood is gone, but her person is being used as a vessel to maintain a foetus. How is that acceptable in a so-called ‘modern’ country in 2014? How? It’s beyond macabre. It smacks of something Josef Mengele would have dreamt up and visited upon poor unfortunates in Auschwitz.
In the last years of the last century, I sought help to conceive. My doctor spoke of IVF as being a last resort. He also mentioned the stigma attached to being ‘a test tube baby’. If there was stigma in Ireland attached to being a test tube baby, can you imagine the stigma that would attach to being a cadaver baby? Except, of course, this foetus is not expected to survive until viability. So what, exactly, is the point? Well, the point is that doctors at the hospital (understandably) don’t want to be seen to be acting in contravention to the constitution. So to avoid situations like this – and this is really simple – repeal the fucking amendment that allows women to be treated like this. Seriously.
It’s stories like this that remind me why Ireland is such an awful place to live: We treat our most vulnerable citizens with such little respect. We have a history of cruelty to those who cannot help themselves. As a society, we tolerate the intolerable being meted out to others.
Actually, forget our history. Look at how we are – today, in 2014 – treating our most vulnerable. Here’s a list to get you going:
People with mental health difficulties
People with learning difficulties (Aras Attracta’s )
Prisoners (over-crowding, slopping out in Mountjoy, lack of conjugal visits etc.)
Children in Childcare settings (remember the Prime Time investigation?)
And, of course, the thousands of women in Ireland who find themselves pregnant, vulnerable and in need of abortions. I use the word ‘need’ very deliberately: I have never met a woman who wanted an abortion; but I have met many who needed them, because of the circumstances surrounding the conception, or the circumstances they were in shortly thereafter, or because their foetus had a condition that was incompatible with life. Women denied safe, legal abortions in Ireland.
Now, add to that list women who have the misfortune to die with a foetus inside them. What message is this sending to our women and young girls? That are not worth as much as their male counteparts; that they cannot expected to be treated with as much dignity as their male counterparts and that the state has an interest in the contents of their wombs.
I have a ten year old daughter and, after the last time we went to a demonstration begging our government to hold a referendum to repeal the 8th, she thought for a bit and said ‘I think Ireland is only a good place if you’re rich and white and a man.’
I think she’s right.