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UCC Express W/C 15th Sep - Abortion & Ireland

It’s happened again. Once more, Ireland has abandoned a vulnerable, pregnant woman, in her time of most need. Just as the collective psyche of our nation was beginning to forget the horror of the case of Savita Halappanavar, we got a chilling reminder, in a case reminiscent of the X case, of just how archaic and incongruous our laws are, when it comes to the reproductive needs and rights of Irish women in the 21st century.

This debate is no longer about whether you are pro-choice or “pro-life”. This is about whether you believe rape victims and women on their deathbeds are entitled to determine their own destiny. Do you view them as living, breathing, emotional beings? Do you think they get scared and suicidal at the thought of carrying a pregnancy, forced upon them by the most heinous of crimes? Do you recognise that they and their loved ones collectively cried, as they needlessly slipped away, because “Ireland is a Catholic country”? Why do people feel they can rationalise such horrendous tragedies, just because their “moral compass” allows them to, because they are “pro-life”?

Colours to the mast, yes I am pro-choice. However, that is inconsequential at this stage, I believe. It is one thing for a society to wash their hands of the plights of thousands of women, who board planes and ferries every year, to avail of an abortion, in the vacuum of Irish provision. It is quite another thing, to leave a woman die, or force a suicidal rape victim to sustain a pregnancy, forced upon her by her rapist, because of the cowardice of our political system and the dictation of a conservative minority.

As a society, we should be appalled at the most recent treatment of a teenage rape victim. Force-fed, lied to and made endure a pregnancy, that made her want to end her own life. And all to appease a minority who place equal, if not more value on a zygote than they do on the suffering of a living, breathing woman? I think it was indicative of the mindset of the more hardened “pro-life” contingent, that in the wake of this most recent case, a vigil was held for the prematurely delivered baby, yet no such holy processions were held for the raped and suicidal teenager, the actual victim in the whole sordid debacle.

How many more women’s lives must be lost or diminished, before this nation grows up and accepts we need a proper solution and not some halfway-house to reside in, in order to keep the Vatican and the men in frocks content? Individual people are very much entitled to be against abortion and to express that resistance, as private citizens. However groups of people that congregate as conservative groups, hell bent on using misinformation, lies and scare tactics to further an outdated agenda, to the detriment of a huge amount of women, should be recognised for what they are. They are a hindrance to the development of a fully functioning Irish state and a threat to our very democracy, not to mention the lives of women. 

People need to stop dissociating themselves from the plights of women and resist reflecting on women’s options from a safe distance. What if it were your daughter that was raped and suicidal? What if it were your partner that needed an abortion to give her a better chance of survival? Would you place the same value on a microscopic embryo as your loved one in that situation? Abortion is a contentious and divisive issue, there is no doubt about that. However, now is the time where we must come together and empathise with women once and for all. Just because your life is secure and you have the ability to offer a new life a home, don’t assume everyone else can. 

Just because your pregnancy or that of your partners was event free, don’t assume all others are. Being “pro-life” should be about more than using your self assumed superior morality, to dictate the futures of others. The care and protection of women should precede all else, and most certainly that of the unborn, as uncomfortable a concept as that is for some.

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