Ireland: A Move in the Right Direction?

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!

Happy reading!

Currently reading: ‘Everyday Sexism’ by Laura Bates

9 thoughts

  1. Definitely agree with this. I’m half Irish but didn’t grow up there, so though I knew abortion was illegal I was never really confronted with what that actually means, practically, until I read The Break by Marian Keyes, where this was a subplot. I am definitely pro choice, though I understand the POV of people who believe that a baby is a life from the moment of conception and every life is sacred – I mean I see their point, however I don’t think that gives them the right to decide for other people. It’s basically how I feel about all things religion – you can believe what you want and practice your religion whatever way you want as long as it doesn’t harm others and you don’t force your beliefs on them. Maybe it’s growing up in Western Europe with liberal parents, but I find it such a strange idea that somebody else’s religion or beliefs should dictate how I live my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with your points. I’m not religious, but I think that, as long as people do not harm others, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, and to freedom of belief. I think that some people still see religion as being something which should be spread, and therefore forced on others, but I agree, this just seems wrong to me- it should be about something more personal, and about doing good, surely! That sounds like an interesting book, I might have to give it a go 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, I really value your point of view, and agree wholeheartedly.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. WordPress doesn’t give me all my notifications so I only saw this now. Yes, The Break is firmly within the genre of chick-lit I believe, which used to be a bad word in my world – I thought it was all superficial writing about romance and shopping, but it turns out there are some good ones in there too. Marian Keyes is a good writer who writes with a lot of humour and warmth – I would recommend her (though I’ve so far only read the one book).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree that chick-lit often gets a bad rep, but personally I sometimes just need something light and ‘frivolous’… and then yes, there are some really good ones in there that surprise you! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Could you clarify for me why you think pro-life individuals would celebrate the legalization of abortion? I’m not quite clear on that since the pro-life position is generally that life exists from the moment of conception and should not be ended. Typical arguments I have seen might be something like this: Imagine that a woman has a two-year-old child. He is a financial burden, annoying even. Maybe he’s even starting to look like his father who harmed/assaulted her. She can’t take care of him anymore. But she has to wait nine months until she can give him up for adoption. Can she kill him in the meantime since she is unable to care for him/is triggered by his presence? Most people would say no. The child’s right to life in this case would arguably supersede the woman’s right to have fewer financial burdens/personal crises/emotional distress.

    I don’t think the typical pro-life person is against women’s rights. I think they simply believe that a person’s right to life takes precedence over other factors in some circumstances. Knowing this, I find it difficult to believe that a pro-life person would celebrate increased opportunities for abortion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your opinion. I would say that the question of abortion is such a sensitive issue, which includes lots of other issues, such as when does ‘life’ actually begin, and under what circumstances can a woman abort a child, that it is hard to come up with a definite opinion, and everyone will have their own beliefs on the issue.

      For this reason, I would say that abortion really depends on the woman affected, and therefore, by giving women the choice to have a safe abortion, she has the ability to choose for herself, based on these many different factors. She doesn’t have to have an abortion, even if she is allowed to have one, but the choice is there.

      I would not suggest that a pro-life person is purposefully against women’s rights, rather that, for me, it seems difficult to argue in favour of women’s rights, and then deny women to have power over their own bodies.

      But like I said, it is such a complicated and sensitive issue, and so opinions will always differ, that’s why it’s an interesting topic to discuss and debate, but ultimately it’s something that should be considered on a case by case basis.

      Thank you again for dropping by, I really appreciate your opinion.

      Like

      1. Ah, okay. Thanks for clarifying! I haven’t met a pro-life person who was in favor of legalized abortion, so I wasn’t sure what the attitude would be. I know a few people here in the U.S. who expressed concern with the events in Ireland. Here a lot of women get abortions because they feel they have to based on their financial situation, so it’s often less of a choice for them than something their families or their circumstances pressure them into. (At least, with the handful of people I’ve met.) So legalizing abortion becomes sensitive in the sense that there’s now less of an incentive to support women who are pregnant and more of an ability to go, “We don’t want to deal with your issue. Go solve it by getting an abortion.” At least, that’s what I’ve seen/heard. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That makes sense, I think it’s bad when anyone forces anyone else into a decision, especially regarding their body. Anything like that should be up to the person/people it affects, and those alone. Thanks for sharing 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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