Every day I make choices. Do I have the Cornflakes or Granola? Do I wear jeans or leggings? Should I go on that date or not? What does my body want today? Turns out, 22 years of decision making has made me a pro. With these decisions, the final say will always come down to me. It doesn’t matter if my friend recommends Cheerios or if the whole world thinks I would look better in a skirt. I trust my own decisions. My body, my choice.
I am currently sitting in my bedroom, tearing up reading women’s experiences with abortion. The reason for the tears that are filling my eyes is not because of their choices, it is the lack of support behind these choices. Women from all different backgrounds and situations, all in the same boat, or in more recent cases, aeroplane. We ship our women off to other countries in shame, but the only shameful thing about that is the lack of compassion and safe arms to hold us at home. We live in the Emerald Isle, so why is the grass greener on the other side?
Recently, a little girl, maybe age 5 or 6, came up to me in a shop to tell me she loved my hair. Of course from her viewpoint, I would be a halo of purple towering above her. To her I was a role model, someone she could look up to, and someone who would probably linger in her mind for a little while. What would I wish for this gentle soul that crossed my path? I would wish her the power as a woman to make her own choices in life. To know whether she wants her hair purple or not, and the power to voice this opinion without being shamed for doing so. Sadly, to many others, I am just a uterus with no voice. To the youth I am a symbol of female empowerment, but to this country I am just a woman, another number on the list, rather than a story. I recently travelled to England for a family event, in the seat behind me were two little girls. Sisters, I presume. Where would they be in 15 years time? Would they be echoing the new voice of Ireland? Or would they be sitting on those aeroplane seats in despair, looking for a way out all on their own? I passed hundreds of faces in Dublin airport that day, but how many were travelling to seek a solution in unfamiliar hands and compassion in unfamiliar hearts?
I am one of huge amounts of women supporting Repeal the 8th. The silence has had it’s time, we have lowered our heads in shame for long enough. We have turned a blind eye to the basic rights of our women. This impacts all of us. Whether you would agree to an abortion or not, that is not the point. The point is that it is our own individual choice. If women want to have an abortion, they are going to. Whether that means they have to travel to another country, alone, isolated, or if they will take tablets in their bedroom, alone, isolated, risking prison time, or if they finally receive the right to stay at home, surrounded by support and aftercare in what is already a traumatising crisis. And for those who argue it will become the easy way out, a form of contraception, well, I can tell you, as a young, sexually active woman, that is most definitely not the case. This is not a form of contraception. If you feel this is the case, then you have clearly never had the feeling of a sinking stomach when your period is late. You think abortion is an easy answer to a completely life changing situation? I’m not ashamed to say myself and my friends have had pregnancy scares. We are woman with working reproductive systems. We also use contraception, but that doesn’t mean a crisis can’t occur. That also doesn’t mean if one of us was expecting we would instantly decide to abort it. It isn’t the easy way out, it is an option we all deserve in an issue that affects women worldwide every single second for so many different reasons. It is traumatic no matter what way you look at it, but we all deserve to have the choice, whether we are 16 or 46. We want the choice for the friend in the long-term relationship with the love of her life, the friend who would not have support from the baby’s father, the friend who cannot financially support this child, the friend who’s parents would kick her out if she chose to have this baby due to shame and stigma, the friend who already has three children, the friend who’s baby will have no quality of life during a very short life, and the friend who was horrifically raped, by a family member, a stranger, or by her own boyfriend.
I am calling on all of us, both men and women. Think of the most important women in your life and remember that you have one vote. That one vote holds enough power to change people’s lives, it holds enough power to change an entire nation. Are you really prepared not to use your voice this May and let the voices that are ostracised be overshadowed by people who cannot comprehend why we so desperately need this Yes vote? We cannot afford to move backwards, we cannot make any more of a mockery of our women. You cannot say what is right for me, and I cannot say what is right for you. I do not dwell in your mind or live in your shoes. You cannot tell me what choices I should make. Why should you? You do not know the location of my birthmarks or the size of my stretch marks. You cannot decide what is right for me when you will not be there to live out the consequences by my side.
Men of this country, you also have every right to roar for us. This is your issue too, you do not have to stand back and watch the women who light up your life suffer in silence. You know she deserves healthcare in her own country, and at some point you could very well face issues brought up because of the 8th Amendment. If you walk alongside her, if you raised her, if you grew up with her, if you crumbled with her through a crisis, or if you just know she deserves to be given a choice, a choice because she is the one living in her own body every day, and a choice because she is a human being, then please keep fighting for us. Please continue to echo our roars.
It is so important to remember that this current lack of human rights does not stop abortions, it only makes them unsafe. Please remember that you are not voting for abortion, you are voting for choice. We are currently casting our women aside to deal with their problems alone, rather than standing up for them and making them feel at ease in the place they know best. Voice your opinion. Speak up for our women. Use the vote they fought for to come together as a more compassionate, and roaring Ireland. Someone please do it for myself and my sister – Two women who are not eligible to vote but would love to. We were once those little girls on the aeroplane, so please use your voice for us. Speak up so when we have our own little girls they feel safe, strong and supported in this country. It’s time to stop shaming our women and let these times become scars in Irish history.
You still have time to prepare for this major moment, and hopefully, this major leap forward.
You want to have your say? PLEASE VOTE. Do not be afraid to share your opinion, do not become a lost voice in our society. Speak up to end the stigma and shame against our women, speak up for safe healthcare, speak up for choice, speak up for each other, and speak up because one day, these realities could land on your own doorstep.
#REPEALTHE8TH #TOGETHERFORYES #MEN4YES