Ireland’s 8th deadly sin

I haven’t posted in awhile, to those of you who read my posts and enjoy them, I want to say thank you, I started my blog a little over a year ago now and the response has been very surprising in the best way possible. I have received some genuinely lovely messages from people about my posts and it has really helped me feel a lot less self conscious and encouraged me to be more open, so thank you! I hope you stick around for more!

I have written and rewritten this post so many times in an effort to make it perfect, it didn’t help that my end goal was to completely change a person’s way of thinking. I know not everyone is going to agree with me and that’s fine, you don’t have to agree but I hope this makes you think.

The Eighth Amendment is currently one of the most controversial human rights topics to date and no one seems to be budging when it comes to their personal opinions about it. This is my opinion, I cannot speak for every single woman in this country or outline every single scenario that women in Ireland are facing with unplanned/crisis pregnancies but I want to shed some light on the other areas of the Eighth amendment that seem to be ‘No Man’s Land’ in this debacle.

Let’s start with bodily autonomy, for those of you who do not know what this actually means it refers to having self governance over one’s own body which, to put simply, means that your body is your own to do with as you see fit and your body cannot be used to support or save a life. You should have full control over your own body, it is a fundamental human right but governments around the world seem to hold very different views which for many, is infuriating and honestly, quite scary.

The subject of bodily autonomy is frequently brought up in discussions about the Eighth but it is starting to bore people. It’s a sad reality that this kind of rhetoric becomes ‘overused’ I know that it’s important to mention and it is the foundation of this very issue but let’s touch on some other subjects too that relate to bodily autonomy. The Eighth Amendment is very vague in its entirety, many would argue that it’s crystal clear but if it were then those infamous court cases regarding Ms Y and the X case may not have happened. I will leave links below this post that explain both cases and how they came to be. Then, we have Savita Halappanavar who died due to complications in the later stages of her pregnancy. Another story that has also become tired rhetoric but is an important example as it should have sparked major change in Ireland, it should have lead to changes that would prevent even more women from dying but unfortunately it was swept under the rug.

Anomaly scans are not often talked about which I find surprising as they are one of the most vital scans a pregnant woman can have. The scan is an essential one for detecting fatal abnormalities the fetus may have, this scan is only available to private patients which is absurd as I believe every pregnant woman should be able to access this scan. As well as this, we have the Irish maternity boards, why them you ask? Well, there are priests on maternity boards in this country, as far as I know, science and religion don’t exactly get along so why are members of the Catholic Church (who have harmed women and children in the past in some of the most heinous and barbaric ways possible) allowed to sit on these boards?

As a woman, I have to admit that this scares me, not having reproductive rights scares me. I could riddle this post with all kinds of facts but all of the information is already out there and I have a few articles I want to share with you that are at the bottom of this post. I want to tell you about how the Eighth has affected me, it affects all of us and not in a positive way whether you’re aware of it or not.

When I was eighteen years old I had a pregnancy scare, my period was a month late which had never happened before and despite being on the pill at the time I was still paranoid. I was very sick which meant that I couldn’t leave the house to get a pregnancy test, I was too ill to walk around for too long so leaving my house just wasn’t physically possible. I was afraid to tell my mom, stupid really because she’s very open minded and pro choice and would have helped me in whatever she could. I was afraid because I felt stupid and at fault, like I should never have done it which is ridiculous because I am a very responsible person and contraception is not 100% effective, it takes two to tango they say, so why is it all on me?

In my panicked state I started researching abortion, I started looking at clinics in the UK and what procedure I may possibly have to undergo, the abortion pill was the way I would have to go as I thought if I was pregnant that I was around six weeks which meant that in two weeks time I would have had to undergo a more invasive procedure. The starting price was around two or three hundred euros which if you include flights and accommodation is very expensive and I had no clue how to be able to afford it. I went with plan B which was to miscarry, I started looking up what pregnant women should avoid in order not to miscarry, drinking alcohol, eating certain types of fish and vegetables and high levels of stress were all doable as it was around Christmas time and no one would have noticed.

My mind was racing and the more logical side of me argued that I was on different anti biotics and my body was fairly weak so because of the state I was in I would miscarry anyway or I wasn’t pregnant to begin with as period loss happens if you’re very sick. Nonetheless, I did everything I could to miscarry. I put my health at risk because I was scared, I have never wanted kids, I know that may change but right now I do not want to be a parent. The idea of not going to University or having a career as a journalist crushed me and I should not have felt as alone and as helpless as I did, the fact that many women and girls feel this way is a horrible reality in Ireland.

I was lucky enough to have not actually been pregnant and I cried with joy when I got my period, I didn’t tell anyone about it for about four months and when I told my mom about it (two years later, a month ago actually) she was shocked that I hadn’t told her before. The Irish people need to start talking about sex and reproduction properly, young people are going to have sex whether they are educated about it or not so it is important that we’re all more honest with each other because sex being a taboo subject is the biggest load of bullshit. Everyone has sex, since the beginning of the human race we’ve been at it, it’s the most natural thing we do and though this may be hard to believe, contraception and abortion have also been around for centuries.

When Pro Life (I don’t think they should be allowed to call themselves that, it’s very misleading) start to actually campaign for better maternity care and come up with an actual alternative to abortion, I will listen. However, that won’t happen, saving lives is not their concern, if it were, the Eighth would have been replaced long ago. Abortion occurs whether we’re aware of it or not. There comes a point where one must ask themselves, do you want abortion to be illegal in Ireland and have women performing their own abortions at home, possibly harming or killing themselves in the process or would you rather have legal, safe abortion services that women can access safely without putting their lives at risk? Those are the only two options we have right now, no matter what anyone says, those are the only options we have.

We need to be honest and we need to change our attitudes about this, when a corpse has more rights than a live pregnant woman something is seriously wrong and it has to change. Whatever your stance is on the Eighth Amendment, it cannot stay as it is, it just can’t, it’s dangerous and ignorant to think that anyone is protected under that amendment. Its existence and the damage it has done makes me ashamed to be Irish, we fought for our freedom for centuries and Irish women have to fight for their lives in a first world country. I will not die for the beliefs of a person I don’t know or agree with, I will not be punished for being a human being. Parenthood is not a life sentence that I wish to serve so do not force me to do so.

Mentioned cases and extra information:

http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/analysis/x-case-and-the-letter-of-the-law-184761.html

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/solicitor-claims-religious-influence-in-ms-y-baby-case-35666670.html

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/savita-halappanavar-medical-negligence-case-to-proceed-1.2412074

https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/youre-pregnant-now-what/stages-pregnancy

womenonweb.org