Hi, all. First, I just wanted to announce that I have finally finished exams, so you’ll be hearing a lot more from me in the coming months! And secondly, I wanted to celebrate something far more important.
Yesterday, on 26th May 2018, Ireland overturned the 8th Amendment, making abortion legal up to 12 weeks, and 24 weeks in exceptional circumstances. Abortion is an incredibly sensitive and controversial subject, and the Irish people became divided over who voted for and against the legalisation of abortion. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, this change represents a move forward for women’s rights, and this can be appreciated whichever side you stand on. I think with subjects such as abortion, it’s hard to say you are for or against it in every single eventuality, and sometimes case by case analysis is necessary.
However, this change represents a massive step forward for Ireland.
Abortion isn’t just about the terminating of pregnancies. It’s about dictating what a woman can and cannot do with her body, and the power of policy makers to decide how a woman can use her body. And the law banning abortion continues the stigma surrounding women who get pregnant at a young age. If a woman is raped and cannot have an abortion, it suggests that she must be punished, and it continues the age-old idea that the woman is to blame, while the man, in most cases, gets off scot-free.
The referendum came about in part due to the lobbying of the Irish pro-choice campaigners after the death of Savita Halapanavar, a 31 year-old who was denied an abortion despite life-threatening complications, and sadly died because of this lack of medical care.
So the fact that this intensely Catholic country has decided, with a 66.4% majority, to now legalise abortion, shows great progress for the pro-choice campaign and for women’s rights, meaning that, once the legislation is put in place, tragedies such as what happened to Savita will be less likely to occur.
Women in Ireland will now be able to have legal and safe abortions in their own country, without having to travel to England, or face the shame that was once attached to becoming pregnant too young, or even being forced to have a child because of the awful actions of a rapist. Of course, there is always going to be stigma surrounding those who have abortions, much as there still is in England and across the world, but this decision suggests a step in the right direction.
The fact that the vote for legalising abortion had such a majority also shows that this was the will of the people, and the growth in more progressive attitudes with regards to women’s rights is fantastic to see. It would be amazing to see the change enacted in such a religious country enacted across the world, with many regions still forcing women to seek abortions elsewhere, and suggesting that women should not have a choice over their own body, which I think is incredibly sad.
Therefore, this decision yesterday gave me a little bit of hope as to our future, and whether you are for or against abortion, or whether you think abortion should be on a case-by-case basis, by giving women the choice, and by letting her deicide whether she wants an abortion or not- a decision that should always be up to her- is incredibly significant. Just because abortion is legalised it doesn’t mean everyone has to use it, but just having that choice could mean the difference between life and death for some women.
Do you agree with the things I’ve said? Do you think abortion should have been legalised in Ireland yesterday? Let me know all your thoughts, opinions and ideas in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!
Currently reading: ‘Everyday Sexism’ by Laura Bates