I recently updated the Kerry for Choice website to include details on how to access abortion services and found myself close to tears, again. I keep thinking it has finally sunk in, then something happens and I realise that it will probably never feel real. But real it is. For all the faults with the legislation and there are many, people who need an abortion in Ireland can now phone a helpline run by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and be given details of their nearest abortion provider.
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“Maybe now it will actually begin to feel real. We actually did it.” I type, not for the first time. Clicking “send tweet” as the tears begin to fall. Opening Facebook, I type a similar message. The Kerry for Choice WhatsApp group is next, followed by an expletive laden text to P. My phone is buzzing so much it scares Arwen (the dog).
President Higgins signed the Thirty-Sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill into law. The Eighth Amendment has officially been Repealed. Yet, the joy I expect isn’t there. Relief and exhaustion are all I have. They are all I’ve had since May 25th.
We talk a lot about having conversations with regards to the upcoming referendum to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution. We talk a lot about having conversations because we understand how important those conversations are. Speaking to people, be they family, friends or colleagues, listening to their concerns and discussing the wide-ranging impact the Eighth Amendment has on the lives of pregnant people in Ireland is crucial in the run up to May 25th. A few years ago, conversations like these changed my thinking and helped me fully understand the implications of the Eighth Amendment and why we must repeal it.
2017 was a strange old year. The world continued to come apart at the seams, my health, both mental and physical, wasn’t great (again) which affected my writing and I spent a not insignificant amount of time trying to figure out how, y’know, to do life. It wasn’t all bad, mind; I wrote some stuff I am proud of, dedicated even more time to activism and met some brilliant people.
Here is a whistle-stop tour of my year, totally inspired by Grace Latter’s 2017: a year on the blog.
I haven’t always been pro-choice. For years I didn’t really consider the issue of abortion at all, but if asked I would say I was more pro-life than pro-choice. Yet, I struggled to explain what I meant when pressed further. I could understand where both sides were coming from, which in many ways can be a good thing. When it comes to the issue of abortion though, it can leave you feeling adrift.
I’ve written about abortion before, some of those blog posts were me trying to work out where I stood on the issue. To an extent I could understand where both sides were coming from, but the more I learned about the consequences of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution the more actively pro-choice I became. I’m a card carrying member of the Abortion Rights Campaign and founding member and chair of Kerry for Choice.
If you care about repealing the Eighth Amendment here are some ways you can get more involved with the campaign. There is still work to do before we see a referendum, but that work has already started. Be part of it.
On Friday news broke that a suicidal woman delivered a baby by Caesarean section in her second trimester. She had been refused an abortion. It was reported that the panel of experts “determined the life of the mother and the child was not at risk from suicide”, but given the advanced nature of the pregnancy a decision was made to deliver the baby.
This case, which is believed to be one of the first under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, 2013, immediately led to questions being asked. If the panel had deemed the woman’s life to be at risk from suicide and given the advanced stage of the pregnancy it is likely a Caesarean section would have been the only possible outcome given the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution. But if the panel decided there was no risk from suicide why was the Caesarean section carried out?
When the news of Savita Halappanavar’s death broke on 14th November 2012, I immediately had questions. I wanted to know how and why this young woman died. We all did.
The answers, according to the findings from the on-going inquest, paint a picture of failure after failure. Letting the Halappanavar’s down and Savita ultimately paying for it with her life. These failures were both human and systemic. There was an unnecessary delay in reviewing all the information and test results, which meant they couldn’t possibly treat Savita correctly. Unfortunately, she never stood a chance.