As odd as it is to think about this now, I used to be consider myself pro-life. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, this label I’d given myself meant that I was against abortion. My naïve reasoning for this was because in my eyes, it was wrong and I’d never have one because of this. Sixteen year old me was obviously extremely uneducated on the matter because the fact is, you never know when you might have to access an abortion. People need them for a lot of different reasons and you never know what situations you might, but hopefully will never, face in the future. The 8th amendment effects anyone who can get pregnant. Even if you still feel like there’d never be a reason you’d access abortion, that’s fine too, because that’s your own personal choice. You will never be forced to have one. But there are people forced abroad every day to access abortion, because they don’t have that choice to seek healthcare at home.
When I was pro-life I had debates with friends from school about abortion. I didn’t understand the complexity of what I was talking about and I have the social media receipts to prove it. It’s not that I wasn’t listening to anyone, but nobody was telling me the cold hard facts about it back then. It was just a bunch of teenagers who’d finished up their Junior Cert chatting amongst themselves. That was 2012, the same year that Savita Halappanavar died. That’s when my opinion started to change.
The more people spoke about it, the more I started to educate myself and my mind changed completely. I won’t lie, what really altered my stance was seeing the devastating effects that the 8th amendment had on people that I’m close with. People I love that have been forced to travel abroad with their rapist because it was the only way they could afford and access abortion. Forced to have sex with him again the night before the abortion, because he was paying for it and that was that. He should never have been there. She should never have been put in that situation and every time I think about it I get so angry that I shake. People I love that have been forced to give fake names as their next of kin, when they end up hospitalised in England after complications with their abortion. The fear of God put into them because what they were doing was and still is illegal, terrified that their parents would find out if anything were to happen to them. Its grim, and its heavy stuff, but that’s the reality of the 8th amendment for people who have to access abortion.
The 8th amendment does not stop abortion. People order abortion pills online every day. People travel abroad for medical and surgical abortions every day. If people can’t afford this, they do it at home the dangerous way using medication, alcohol and whatever they can get their hands on. Yes, it still happens. The 8th amendment does not stop abortion, if somebody needs one they will do whatever it takes to have one. The 8th amendment just makes it that bit more difficult for those in need.
People are forced to travel every day if their unborn baby is diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality. What these people have to go through is cruel and heart breaking, and exporting them abroad to access an early induction is not the answer for these cases. Some people may choose to continue on with a pregnancy after doctors have confirmed will not be viable outside of the womb, but the option needs to be there for e
arly induction too. Nobody should have to return back to Ireland without their baby, and receive their ashes by courier. Yes, this actually happens. You can read Tracey’s story about what happened when her daughter Grace was diagnosed with thanatophoric dysplasia here.
We all know somebody who’s had cancer. But did you know that if you’re receiving cancer treatment and find yourself pregnant, that your treatment could be stopped? This because under the 8th amendment, the life of the foetus or embryo is seen as equal to the pregnant persons. So although the person who’s pregnant might have a young family at home that they need to look after, their life is still seen as equal to the embryos.
And sometimes, people just don’t want to be pregnant. It’s simple. A baby should not be used as a punishment for having sex. If somebody is not ready to be a parent for whatever reason, it shouldn’t be forced on them. People don’t want to be pregnant for a lot of complex reasons, and frankly it’s not our place to judge.
I’ve heard the words “But what if they regret it?” about people who need an abortion countless times. But sure, what if we regret anything we do in life? Should we not be trusted with making our own decisions? People who can get pregnant have a long history of not being trusted with their own decisions regarding reproductive healthcare in Ireland. This needs to stop, now. Vote Yes on May 25th.
If you’re interested in learning more about how the 8th amendment affects pregnant people in Ireland, head over to the In Her Shoes page on Facebook where hundreds of people have shared their anonymous story of accessing abortion.
This post was inspired by a post by Emily Donnelly, who wrote a post recently on why she went from pro-life to pro-choice. You can read it here.