The shame, the sin, and the crisis pregnancy support numbers scrawled on the walls of public restrooms were all I knew about abortion until my late teens.
Ireland’s constitutional ban, which effectively imposed a blanket ban on dismissals – from 1983, until the country voted overwhelmingly to overturn it in 2018 – deprived women like me of the access to reproductive health care; health care considered a basic human right in dozens of countries around the world. It marked us. It harmed us. She has consistently denied us the freedom to choose.
In the context of this experience, it is not surprising that the leaked draft decision of the United States Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade sent shivers down my spine. Such a decision, if it were to come to fruition, would amount to the darkest regression in women’s rights that the United States has ever seen.
It is impossible to quantify the pain caused by the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution before its repeal four years ago, after a bitter referendum campaign that plunged the country into feverish chaos marked by citywide protests and screaming TV debates.
Images of activists on both sides harassing each other outside the Supreme Court in Washington DC this week brought back painful memories of a time when posters covered with graphic images of late-term abortions adorned the streets of my hometown.
“Aborted passengers: turn around now! We will reimburse you for the cost of your flight.
These are the words a Midlands ‘pro-life’ organization lobbied to festoon the walls of Dublin Airport with in 2017 as the fight for reproductive rights intensified ahead of the Irish vote. They claimed to care deeply about Ireland’s unborn children, but washed their hands of vulnerable young mothers as soon as the child arrived.
The Ireland of my early years told women experiencing unplanned and crisis pregnancies that they were the sole orchestrators of their plight; the blame lies entirely with them, the shame and stigma lies with them alone.
The Eighth stole so much from us. Abortion was rarely talked about, not even among my friends when it was safe to do so, far from the Catholically conditioned opinions of our elders and teachers.
At school, the official line was a deafening silence. In fact, the official line stopped before any meaningful conversation about contraception – no instruction, guidance, or discussion would be held on the subject because it was “unethical to the school and the state”.
It was reproductive education without any reproductive education. We grew up in blissful ignorance of abortion, and grew up scared of the word itself: generations of women denied the right to decide their own future unless they had the money to travel. abroad.
I studied law in all its forms for three years. I’ve written tons of legal articles on issues like domestic violence and sexual consent that called for repeated references to the Eighth. I vividly remember my senior year family law exam, sitting in the yawning abyss of a college gym regurgitating the constitutional verse: “The State recognizes the right to life of the unborn child and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws the respect and, as far as possible, the defense and vindication of this right..”
Wrapped in this archaic language and legalese is the state-sanctioned position that, from the moment of conception, the potential existence of a non-viable fetus is equal to that of the living, breathing mother who The door. This madness was the reality of Ireland until just four years ago, and for those affected by it, the scars run deep.
Reversal Roe versus Wade, which is likely to trigger a total abortion ban in about half of the US states, won’t stop abortions – it will stop safe abortions and block access to essential support services afterwards. This will force countless women to travel interstate or overseas for basic health care, banishment mná na hÉireann (Irish women) know this only too well.
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For 35 years, from the time the Eighth was ratified in 1983, my country exported its vulnerable girls instead of providing them with basic health care. The laws imposed on us because of the relationship between church and state said that these women were not Ireland’s problem. They were disreputable individuals, devoid of any maternal instinct; which should be sent across the water to the UK or Europe or wherever – but not to our doorstep.
General bans on abortion have a disproportionate impact on minorities and low-income women who are unable to travel long and costly journeys to access needed services. The idea that this fate awaits millions of women in the United States is unbearable and must be avoided at all costs.
If you strip away the venom surrounding the abortion debate, you will find thousands of women with thousands of unique stories and struggles, thousands of explanations, and thousands of reasons for the choices they have made. No one should be forced to continue a pregnancy against their will. The United States now faces a fierce battle to ensure that this does not happen.