Friends, it’s been a while.
I am breaking my blogging silence to speak about something important. Something that is very important to me.
Tomorrow, in Ireland, one of the most historic referendums is happening. The referendum on whether or not the eighth amendment to our constitution should be repealed.
For those who don’t know, the eighth amendment is as follows;
The states acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.’
In layman’s terms, this means that the life of a fetus, no matter it’s gestational age, has equal rights to it’s mother. Sounds good in theory, but in practice, in this little isle of green, it has been used in other ways.
The eighth amendment has been a way of tying women’s rights. Introduced because of our fantastic ability as a country to bow down to the weight & will of the Catholic Church which has long been castrating our people for its own gains (anyone who has an issue with what I say here, I have no problem debating it with you. I have my Faith in God, but my Catholic church has failed my country & I will be happy to calmly & kindly explain to you how). This constitutional amendment has led to women having lesser rights than men. It has led to women being denied cancer treatments because they are pregnant, even in the case where both of them will die without medical intervention. It has led to a woman who was medically brain dead bring kept alive on a ventilator & artificial feeding for 24 weeks to incubate her still-living fetus; she died after her ventilator was removed & her child lives motherless. It has led to countless women travelling to the UK & further afield for pregnancy terminations. It has led to parents of unborn children with fatal fetal abnormalities or in-utero death being forced to carry these children to term with no hopes for life. It has led to the worldwide scandal of Savita Halappanaver who died of sepsis because she could not have her unviable pregnancy terminated. It has led to shame, heartbreak, and suffering for women in this country.
While I have mixed feelings on abortion myself – ie I can’t see myself ever having one & would encourage others to seek other options before having one – I recognise that every single person has the right to decide if they want to be parents or not. I believe in choice. I believe in women.
With this in mind, I wrote a poem about this referendum. I am posting it below. Anyone who wants to discuss this issue with me, I do welcome it, but I ask that you be kind. Because I respect that people are anti abortion, but you must understand that this referendum is not a simple cut-and-dry abortion issue. Please arm yourselves with the facts before you attack me. Thank you.
Repeal the 8th
All of my life I have lived on this fair isle,
raised Catholic, asking questions that were given no answers.
I have spent my life marred by the Church; capital C you see,
an ‘illegitimate’ child of an unmarried mother.
Lucky I hadn’t been born a decade earlier and sold by the laundries,
as I was told once as a child too small to understand what those places were.
In the shadow of the Church I grew,
and learned shame.
Learned to put my head down, hunch my shoulders, because of what I was –
Our little slice of lush heaven is run by men in frocks
telling women not to lift their own frocks,
and if they do, to deal with the consequences of their actions.
To be ashamed, so ashamed.
As an adult now, I pull against my shackles,
my own daughter looks to me to lead,
not follow blindly these rules that are a danger to our sex.
How many times must we endure a death like Savita’s;
Six years have passed since our system failed her, since our State Church failed her,
and not a letter of our law has changed.
This 8th amendment ties women’s health, but not women’s tubes,
God forbid we not continue the Irish race, the Irish way of life.
God forbid we put an end to bodies of babies found in tanks, in mass graves,
unmarked and unheard;
One of Ireland’s dirty little secrets.
Not allowed to talk about it, who on earth wants change.
I lead my girl with one hand and cover her eyes with the other against the NO posters;
the graphic images that are not appropriate on a lamppost,
but they think it’s better than a poster to ‘vote yes’.
I respect your right to a vote,
but not to lie.
The referendum is not only about abortion you see,
but equal rights.
The rights of women to have control of their own health, their own futures.
To women who cannot or want not to bear children, to be able to say
no, this life is not for me.
Ireland it is time for change.
It is not to be feared but embraced,
we are moving away from the Church,
from the hurt, from the poverty they have caused us.
This change is for our better and you would see if if you just open your eyes.
To the pain of your sisters and mothers who were shamed and shunned,
and bore more children than their bodies could bear.
To your daughters, your nieces who look to you for help, for guidance of how to behave.
To the women who’ve known pain, known oppression, known fear
because that’s the way it’s always been done.
No more, Ireland.
No more will we be your lesser halves of this species.
No more will we be forced into a life that we would never choose,
because of our anatomy.
No more will we watch unwanted children failed by a system that doesn’t care for them once they are born,
but only care that they are born.
No more, Ireland.