Dear Love Boaters

Repealed

So, the voters of Ireland have spoken, overwhelmingly. Last Friday, Irish people voted to repeal the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution.

More people voted in the referendum than have ever voted on a single day in the country before. It was that important. The vote was carried by nearly 70%. It was that important.

Of course, those who voted ‘No’ are very disappointed. They may be feeling hurt, and upset, and abandoned, and powerless. They fought hard for something that was important to them, and they feel let down by those who voted ‘Yes’, and who are responsible for the fact that the 8th Amendment will be repealed, and women will have bodily autonomy.

 

I would hate for those voters to feel powerless, so – based on a number of suggestions that the No voters mooted as ‘solutions’ to choice – I’d like to offer the following for their kind consideration:

  1. The No voters were very concerned about foetuses being aborted because they (the foetuses) had severe, life-limiting, life-constraining disabilities. Given their concern, I’m sure they’d love to help children and families who have disabled children. I know several such families who need respite, who need practical help with regard to buying nappies and specially-adapted vehicles and much more. My friend, Tracy McGinnis, has a GoFundMe page to raise money to buy an adapted house for her severely disabled son. You can donate here.
  2. They were also concerned that women and girls who were pregnant as a result of rape would not have abortions. Clearly, their concern for those of us who have been raped – and especially those of us who have been raped by our own fathers and brothers – is touching. I’d suggest donating funds to their local rape crisis centre, sexual assault treatment unit, or even training and volunteering to help women after they have been raped.
  3. There was much attention paid by the ‘No’ campaigners that even the threat of suicide, or other mental health difficulties, was not enough to offer support to women who wanted to make choices around their pregnancies. I’d suggest that they fund-raise for Pieta House, the Samaritans, or – better yet – to pay for more perinatal psychiatric services in Ireland. Currently, there are only three such specialised doctors, and they practice in Dublin.
  4.  As a lone parent – one who didn’t abort, in other words – I’d have loved their support when my children were younger. My family of origin is toxic and abusive, so I have no contact with them. Nor do I have support from the ex, so someone to have come around a few times a week to help with the housework; with child-minding; or even to make me a cup of coffee and chat with me when the kids were in bed, would have been fantastic. So – No Voters – find a lone mother in your locale, and find out what you can do to help her. Then help her.
  5. In a similar vein – find a man who was left raising his child/ren on his own because the 8th Amendment caused his wife’s death, and do what you can to help him, and them.
  6. No-ers had a great plan for women who didn’t want to continue their pregnancies: They figured these women should continue their pregnancies, and then have their babies adopted. Now, the problem with this ‘solution’ is that adoption is the solution to unwanted parenthood, not unwanted pregnancies. So, here’s what’ I’d suggest: People who think adoption is a great idea should roll up their sleeves and get stuck in to helping re-unite babies, who were sold by the religious orders, with their birth parents. They should campaign to have the files held by these religious orders opened wide, and information shared with those who want it.

 

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head. I’m sure you can think of more. Please feel free to share them. No voters – you’ve shown us your passion, you’ve shown us you can mobilise, you’ve shown us that you can be (dare I say it?) obstreperous; you’ve shown us how loud you can be when MSM ‘silences’ you; you’ve shown us that you can persuade people to fly in from all over (but especially from America) to help you. Put all that passion and expertise (and money!) to good use and help out the already-born.

Ah here!

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:

Direct Provision

People with mental health difficulties

People with learning difficulties (Aras Attracta’s )

Disabled children

Prisoners (over-crowding, slopping out in Mountjoy, lack of conjugal visits etc.)

Children in Childcare settings (remember the Prime Time investigation?)

Homeless people

Children at risk

 

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.