On Friday, 25th of May 2018, Ireland voted by a landslide to repeal the 8th Amendment. We decided that we have had enough of the government having control over our bodies. Most importantly, we decided as a country, that giving women a choice was the only way forward for our Emerald Isle.
Since Saturday morning, it has become obvious that there was a majority vote in favour of removing the 8th Amendment from Bunreacht na hÉireann and for the first time since our declaration as an Irish Republic, allow women to have full bodily autonomy.
Thus, the aftermath of these results however, have caused quite a stir online. Facebook and Twitter have been filled with ‘pro-lifers’ angst and disappointment with our country. I must ask, why they are so disappointed? I can’t help but wonder if the result had of went the other way, would the No side not have been celebrating their victory too?
However happy I am that as a country, we have wholeheartedly decided that the 8th has no place in Ireland anymore, I do agree that abortion is not something to be celebrated. Nonetheless, I think the reasons for celebrating the removal of the 8th and abortion are in-fact, quite different.
Ironically, there are Irish women out there who have been campaigning for repeal since the 80s, why shouldn’t they celebrate the success of their campaign? And why shouldn’t the women of Ireland be able to celebrate their new-found bodily freedom?
The point is, in the aftermath of the repeal campaign, the true meaning of the result has been lost in translation. The men and women who chose to vote Yes have not let our country down. ‘God’ should not forgive us all for the decision we as a country have made.
We are celebrating the end of a grueling campaign. Actually, we are celebrating the new-found hope Irish women have while facing crisis pregnancies. Abortion is not what is being celebrated, facing abortion is not a happy place to be, deciding if you should have a termination is not a decision made lightly. We are celebrating that we now have a choice. We now have the freedom to decide what is right for our own individual bodies and circumstances.
Repealing the 8th amendment is not going to change Ireland for the worse. Women are not just going to start having abortions like it’s nothing. Abortion was already here. In actuality Irish women were already having abortions, but unsafe ones. Pills bought illegally online and taken at home by our mothers, daughters, aunties, cousins and friends without any medical supervision or guidelines.
By repealing the 8th, we have not made abortion okay. We have not made the decision to have one or not any easier. We have not made them readily available. We have not created a new form of contraception. We have not ignited an era of millions of aborted fetus’. We have not created an anti-life culture. Our children will not grow up with a lesser value of life.
By repealing the 8th, we have simply chosen to trust the women of this country. We have chosen to trust our women enough to know what is right for them. We have, for the first time ever, allowed women to have a choice. We have provided a light in what can sometimes be a very dark and lonely tunnel. We have allowed women to access safe and supervised terminations. We have given a choice to our women.
To all those close to me and the rest of the 30 odd percent who voted No, I am truly sorry you feel so upset and disgusted with the decision our country has decided to make. I am sorry you have only been able to open your mind’s wide enough to only see and hear the word abortion. I am sorry that the concept of choice is not important to you. I am sorry you feel betrayed and unhappy with this country going forward. I am sorry you feel we have made the wrong decision.
Above all, I am hopeful, and I pray, that not a single one of you have to face the darkness of a crisis pregnancy, whether it be directly or indirectly. I hope that repeal will surprise you. I hope you learn compassion, and most importantly, I hope you learn to trust your fellow Irish-women.
And to those who voted Yes – thank you. Thank you for acknowledging that our bodies are our own. Thank you for allowing us to be women and not vessels. Thank you for trusting us to make our own decisions.
And finally, thank you for giving my body back to me.