Apologies for the interruption to my (ir)regularly scheduled posts about random bullshit no-one actually cares about, but I thought this was worth bringing up. Even though I have no idea how many people are actually reading this, this is my platform for my thoughts and this is something I feel strongly about. So here we go.
The 8th amendment of the Irish constitution recognises the equal right to life of the mother and an unborn child. This has always been a controversial amendment and people have argued that such wording has no place in the constitution. So, tomorrow, May 25th, Ireland is holding a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment.
I want to encourage any Irish people reading this website to vote yes to repeal the 8th amendment on May 25th.
We all have our reasons for voting yes or no. We all have our stories. Let me tell you a little bit of my story.
We spent a long time trying to conceive. It took forever. Long enough that we experienced that pain when our friends got pregnant. Why could they get pregnant so easily, without appearing to even try? Each month, we’d realise we once again weren’t successful and we’d be desolate, completely unable to comfort each other. If you haven’t gone through this, you don’t know the pain involved. When I look back on it, I remember it as being one of the hardest points in my life.
But eventually we did it. My wife got pregnant.
The pregnancy was fun, but the labour wasn’t. My daughter was posterior, which basically means that instead of being face-down, the baby was face-up, so the baby’s head and spine was pushing against my wife’s spine so that every push was intensely painful. Also, with every push, the baby’s heart rate would drop precipitously. Eventually, it was decided to bring my wife in for an emergency c-section, where they discovered the chord was wrapped around the baby’s neck (just before I heard my daughter cry for the first time, I heard a surgeon say “look at this messer!”)1.
Obviously, this whole experience was extremely traumatic, both emotionally and physically. And that was just the beginning. Then there’s the issue of being a brand new mother, trying to breastfeed having had major surgery on your abdominal core. I can’t begin to explain the pride and admiration I have for my wife and how she handled the whole thing.
And this is when I realised that this only made me more pro-choice. Having seen first-hand the reality of pregnancy and labour and the reality of raising a child and the lasting (permanent?) scars, both literal and metaphorical, involved in the whole process, I firmly believe there is no way a woman should be forced to go through all this if they couldn’t manage it. And this is to say nothing of extreme cases involving, say, assault or a fatal foetal abnormality. Forcing a woman to go through all that would be barbaric.
Jump forward a couple of years and we’ve been extremely lucky and managed to conceive our second child without really trying very hard at all.
But halfway through the pregnancy, we found out there were complications. Well, no, wait, that’s not quite accurate. There were possible complications. And not insignificant ones, possibly. Which meant a lot of sleepless nights, worrying about how our child would be affected by all this. And there were a lot of tests. So many tests. During one particular test just after Christmas, a doctor (an Irish doctor) asked us “have you considered termination?”
We hadn’t, and we wouldn’t, because we knew the risks, and we knew how strong we were and we knew that we could manage it, no matter how bad it turned out to be2 and I wouldn’t judge anyone for making a different choice in the same circumstances.
And that’s kind of the point of all this: the choice already exists. When the doctor asked us if we’d considered termination, he meant “have you considered (traveling to England for) termination?” The 8th amendment doesn’t stop Irish women from having abortions, it just stops them from having abortions in Ireland3, where they can be surrounded by their loved ones when they really need it.
It’s a horrible, uncaring section of our constitution and should be taken out. And that’s what this referendum is about. Recognising that something is wrong with the current situation and trying to do something about it.
Please, vote yes.
- My daughter came out perfectly fine. As I write this, she’s a strong and sturdy two and a half years old. And she’s bilingual, did I mention that? She speaks English and Polish. Smartest kid I know. ↩
- It’s fine, by the way. My ten-week old son is healthy and thriving although he will need to be continuously monitored until he’s about a year old. ↩
- The 14th amendment added some extra provisions to the language introduced by the 8th amendment, saying “This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state”. ↩