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Saturday, 4 July 2015

Society of Shame: #RepealThe8th

Today I saw a family on O'Connell street having just participated in the Rally for Life parade in the city centre. They were the image of the catholic family, about 4 kids with mammy pregnant with another and all of them wearing pro-life placards. This really got to me and that's why I'm deviating away from my usual topics today and giving my two cents worth on what's going on with the campaign to #repealthe8th, whatever it may be worth.
There was a time when I was pro-life. I turned to a very extremist form of Christianity early in my teenage years and so was sucked in hook, line and sinker by the images of late-term abortions and cut up babies that were born crying. It wasn't until I got to college and began to look at it from an actual medical and societal standpoint that I realised how wrong I was and I am now very much pro-choice. 

During my journey to my current thought on the issue, I got to a "I wouldn't have one myself but I wouldn't judge anyone who did" state of mind and I've met many others who are in the same place. But I realise now, much to my shame, that I was still being judgemental by saying that. I was implying that I was in a better position than those who would take that path and  that I was in some way morally superior to them. In other words, I was being totally up myself. This mindset also separated me from the issue and I felt that the campaign to make abortion freely available in Ireland was something that I wasn't part of and that's something I regret. The thing is, abortion happens in Ireland whither our government allows it or not. But we, the society of Ireland, who pride ourselves on being a loving group of people and with the recent change in the marriage laws, a very open and progressive one too, are turning a blind eye because sure they can always go to England and they can deal with it there! 

But it's not as easy as that. For centuries, 'mother Ireland' has been a present motif in our literature, our culture and our society at large. The people who put themselves forward as pro-life subscribe to this image of the beautiful and natural persona of the pregnant woman. She has no shoes for some reason and is very fond of long, white flowing dresses and has long wavy red hair which reaches her perfectly formed third-trimester baby bump. Society paints this picture of pregnancy as a magical and perfect state where, besides the birth (thanks Eve), there is no pain or discomfort and everyone involved is both physically and mentally secure and nothing will ever go wrong. This is why that family I saw today bothered me so much. It is absolutely fine that those parents are not going to need the procedure, they were lucky to have everything go their way. But there are people all over the country who are not as lucky and who have been denied the care they needed because they didn't fit into the perfect mother model and wanted or needed to end their pregnancies. Women and trans-men who cannot afford to go abroad or who don't have the papers to travel. Those who develop fatal foetal abnormalities and have to carry their dying babies to full term. Those in abusive relationships who don't want to bring a child into their reality. When the people in power are so far removed from the lives their decisions are affecting, how can we expect change to happen on its own? It can't. Most of the people in the chambers, a large portion of the voting public, they will never have to go through this. But the people who are forced to go through a pregnancy they don't want or may kill them, how are we going to answer their cries? Right now we're telling hem, "sure you can do it, just don't do it here". It's disgraceful, it's immoral and it needs to change.