“Scream so that one day a hundred years from now another sister will not have to dry her tears wondering where in history she lost her voice.” – Jasmin Kaur.
Okay, so yesterday was the 6th annual Pro-Choice march in Dublin. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it into the march despite my best efforts but given the occasion, I thought I’d write a blog post on some of the reasons I feel so strongly about repealing the Eighth amendment in our constitution.
(For anyone that isn’t aware, The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland recognises the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child. This amendment created a constitutional recognition of an unborn child’s life and so makes it impossible for any government to introduce legislation allowing for terminations in the womb except in exceptional circumstances.) Also, I feel like it is relevant to mention that this legislation was approved and brought into effect in 1983…
*Trigger warning, this post includes references to sexual violence, abortion and rape.
So, this post has been particularly difficult to write and I have not written it alone. I wrote it alongside a very close friend who, some time ago was sexually assaulted. This friend wants to keep her anonymity but she has both given me permission to write this post and she has read it over and approved it.
For the sake of the post let’s say her name is Mia. Purely because I don’t think I know any Mias and I don’t want to use anyone’s name that I know, given that it’s such a sensitive subject.
The exact details of what happened aren’t relevant but ‘Mia’ was raped by a stranger one night, in a place that was well-known to her, a place where she should have been safe. The person who raped ‘Mia’ did not use contraception.
Initially ‘Mia’ felt guilty, afraid and ashamed. She blamed herself and told me that the attack left her feeling dirty and embarrassed. It took over a year before she reported what happened to the Garda and even now, very few people know about the assault. Unfortunately because of the time it took her to report the incident, alongside the fact that it was a stranger there wasn’t a whole lot that the Garda could do.
It has taken ‘Mia’ coming up to two years to come to terms with what happened to her. Two years to even be able to say the words “I was raped” out loud. Two years to feel like she has reclaimed control over her sexuality. Two years of her life to stop questioning herself as to whether or not she is safe and whether or not she should cross the road every time a man she doesn’t know walks past her on the street. It has taken ‘Mia’ almost two years to begin to leave what happened behind her and to really start enjoying and living her life again.
“There have not been the words or phrases that can accurately capture and display the trauma of what were the worst moments of my life. There have never been words invented for feelings that should not exist. Situations that should never be allowed to happen can’t be explained in ways that people will understand because they surpass human comprehension.” (‘Mia’)
The trauma of the assault was almost enough to cause ‘Mia’ to end her own life.
It was just out of total luck that she didn’t fall pregnant. By that I don’t mean that she was lucky because not one single bit of what happened was lucky, but the whole situation would have been made 100Xs harder had pregnancy been an issue!
Now, can you try to imagine what ‘Mia’ would have gone through if she had fallen pregnant. On top of the unimaginable horror she was forced to go through, imagine if she had been faced with the idea of having a baby, unplanned, by her rapist.
‘Mia’ hasn’t even told her family about what happened, after almost two years. She says that she still, after all this time struggles to say the word ‘rape’ because that makes it too real. She still faces regular nightmares about what happened. Two years on and her life is still being impacted by the assault.
If ‘Mia’ had fallen pregnant I’m honestly not sure if I’d still have my amazing friend by my side.
I like the idea of living in a country that could give both girls and women who fall pregnant, both those who have experienced sexual assault and who haven’t, a choice. I like the idea of living in a country where if ‘Mia’ had needed it, she could have had access both to clear and accessible information and to a safe abortion within her own country, that she could have afforded, where I could have gone with her; if she needed me.
I like the idea of living in a country that prioritises it’s women’s health and safety over completely out of date religious views that I don’t understand and am quite frankly appalled by.
I like the idea of living in a country that would provide me with safe health care if I ever got into a situation where I decided an abortion was my only option (a decision I hope I never have to make and would definitely not take lightly).
I like the idea of living in a country that I feel prioritises my health, physical and mental and my safety.
Right now, I do not feel like I live in such a country.
Until the Eighth amendment has been not replaced, but totally repealed I don’t think I’ll feel safe and content in the idea that I am an equal citizen who is cared about, and who’s welfare is a priority to her countries’ government.
In a Pro-Choice post one of my friends shared on Facebook, he wrote about how he wasn’t pro-abortion. How no one is pro-abortion. He said that doctors don’t want to give abortions and women don’t want to have to have them. But how it is so important that legal, safe abortions become an option for girls and women who need access to them.
I couldn’t agree with this more.
The reality is that on average 12 Irish women are forced to travel abroad every day to access abortion services. That is 12 women too many every day. Abortion in Ireland is illegal and a woman can face up to 14 years in prison for having a termination. 14 years for making a very hard and personal decision over her own body. These statistics are disgusting.
Our country has an awful habit of concealing it’s ‘problems’ and pretending they don’t exist. Well, they do exist and Ireland’s government needs to stop ignoring the fundamental needs, and my opinion rights of its citizens and repeal the Eighth amendment.
Being Pro-Choice doesn’t mean that you are pro- abortion. It means that you agree that women should be trusted to make their own decisions over their own bodies and that we deserve a choice. That women deserve more than to be owned and controlled by the Catholic church as they have been traditionally throughout Irish history.
If you are on the fence about this issue or simply just don’t care enough to have an opinion, it is my hope that after reading this post and hearing about ‘Mia’ and just some of what she went through that you will at least educate yourself enough on the issue to form an opinion. The women of Ireland need everyone on board with this and we need to all fight together. We need to force our government to listen and allow us to live in a more just and humane society.
Simply not having an opinion on this issue is not an option. Women are worth more than that! We all deserve more than that!
‘Mia’ deserved to have a choice if she had needed one, I deserve a choice, every woman in Ireland deserves a choice.
Kimbo. X ✨🌻🌸💖