Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why I am Pro-Choice

These are strange and dark times in Ye Olde Catholic Republic of Ireland.

Due to our draconian and unclear abortion laws we have facilitated the death of a 30 something year old healthy Hindu woman from India. She came her to work and to start a family. When her pregnancy turned into a miscarriage she and her husband begged hospital staff repeatedly to terminate the pregnancy to prevent further distress and risk to her life. They refused and/or hesitated because the heartbeat of the dying foetus was still present. In their mixed and ill-informed opinion she was not at the level of risk our Constitution and medical guidelines say is necessary to justify and abortion. They were afraid of prosecution under out-dated laws, and unclear constitutional provisions. She died of blood poisoning due to this delay and hand-wringing over a lack of clarity created by the dithering and failure of 6 successive governments to legislate for the X case.

Abortion, it is said by some, is the third rail of Irish Politics. Well it's live and sparking, and our elected leaders are running from it in every which way they can.

One TD is so aware of her job that she actually doesn't think Legislation is necessary, her job as a legislator seemingly escaping her.

Our Glorious and venerated leader, European Man of the year, Savoir of the Debt Crises, according to Time Magazine (Europe edition), is so afraid of it that he "will not be rushed" by "force of Numbers". Force of Numbers, in any working Democratic Republic is actually the will of the People. But because the new Moral Majority of Ireland does not have Bank shares or a Lobby we are apparently not worth listening to.

I wrote in the title to this post "Why am I Pro-Choice", well I will tell you why.

I was adopted. My natural Mother and Father were a college couple in the Recession of the late 80s. They couldn't afford me or see any alternative, a boat to the UK out of the question in their case. So I, Like my older sister (also adopted) were taken in by a loving family and raised with the best of intentions. We had a privileged upbringing, several au pairs over the years, education in a Multi-Denominational Primary and 2 well known Dublin single-sex Private schools. Our Primary school was so progressive (in an Irish way) that the land was bought from Nuns for a Pound, a Greek Orthodox church used to share the grounds with us in the early years and the Parents fought tooth and nail (not Literally) to let it's children hold Communion in Rathmines Cathedral. I was different to my sister however, Church bored me, I didn't "buy" it. From a young age I chose not to take part in Religion and this was respected.

In my teenage years my Private school held a Protestant prayer at assemblies, I would sit Upright and grin and bare it. As any ill-informed teenager I frequently was abrasive and ignorant with my nascent atheism  I would get into arguments I'd never win, dig myself holes with little or no escape. I eventually learned through trial and error that it didn't matter what others believed, Science was my basis of understanding for much of reality, and just like good research my Views must change on the basis of evidence over time. I slowly switched to by agnostic and have not looked back. I find Fanatical/Anti-Religion Atheism as a futile and silly effort by many, let those who embrace abstract concepts of Higher Powers believe what they want.

However it is in the separation of Church and state that I will say that Religion has no place in the affairs of others. In Ireland law and public thought has been directed by the Catholic Church and other churches to a lesser extent since its foundation. Our Constitution explicitly holds Roman Catholicism as a faith held by many with a special place in our Culture. Poppycock by today's standards. These days due to the abuses by the Church in education, health care and forms of slavery and penal detention the population of Ireland is rejecting practising religion faster than most other nations. This is not to say they are now God-less, but they have less and less respect for the institutions that have so utterly failed them, and insulted them through-out the existence of this state.

I went to college, briefly, and studied Nursing for 3 years. During my time there I spent a lot of time with predominantly female friends, all with various levels of sexual activity and religious belief. I had a relationship with a strictly Protestant girl during this time and always wore protection, and at some considerable shared cost. I also studied and worked on placement on Obstetrics/ Gynaecology wards, Paediatric ward and time in the HIV/Hep C ward and it's associated STD Clinic. I saw a lot of the mixed and diverse ways Irish Citizens and those who live here, go about exploring and expressing their Sexuality and pursuing a family life.

Sex education is minimal and limited in our society. Safe sex is also not as well informed or practised as is necessary to insure the health and safety of our populace. Condoms are taxed heavily, and although a lot more available than they were only 20 years ago, are still a taboo or seen as restrictive and a nuisance by a petulant and stubborn male population who shy from responsibility, not unlike our government.

Women are still stigmatised for carrying condoms, for protecting their own safety and for accessing "The Pill" and other forms of Contraception. It is common place, but still our society is not passed the levels of persecution and misogyny recently witnessed in the United States and their war on Women.

Here in Ireland we have a moral war of ignorance of sexuality, sexual Liberation and the freedom to be Human. There are many long lasting struggles for recognition that are not fully resolved, but part of accepting a diverse array of lifestyles in this Republic is access to family planning and reproductive health Services Publicly and Privately.

The "State" is receiving some the same apathy and distrust from our populace as the Church and associated institutions. We have lost 2% of our population over the past 5 years to Emigration, Poverty and suicide.

It is hard to see after 20 years of struggle how the Women of this country can have their rights to an Abortion or fair family planning listened to when our government is so Blinded by devastating our economy and society in other areas.

The narrow set of circumstance's that the majority of voters supported for Abortion in this country some 20 years ago are still, as narrow, today. However they lack legislation. And thanks to Right wing Lobby groups, Domestic and in some cases Foreign influenced or funded, this has stayed the case for 20 years. All parties afraid of upsetting the Right wing vote in what is still a very conservative country.

I however don't believe in such restrictive Abortion access or family planning services.

I believe Condoms should be cheaper and far more easily available.

I believe various forms of Female contraception should be available upon request from your GP.

I believe the Morning After Pill Should be available in Pharmacies equipped with Consultation rooms upon request.

I believe that women who become pregnant, planed or not, should be able to seek advice, support, counselling and full family planning services here in Ireland. There should not be no hopping on a flight to the UK in a crises. Adoption services should not be a last resort for Troubled families, but a viable option from the start for Women and Families who may not be able to support another child. Abortion is another option within  Reproductive health services and should be there to protect people and aid them in controlling their Family planning and fertility options.

I do not feel that we can let our current state of services continue based on the Moral arguments of a decreasing minority. A minority who have a direct line to our leaders and our elites, are part of a list of go-to commentators for our broadcasters and publishers. Their grip on the status quo is dangerous for the health of Women and our society, and the time has come for their hegemony to be challenged.

I also believe that Human Life begins when a Baby is born and can eventually breath, eat and excrete without medical assistance. A developing Human life that through a safe and supportive environment can mature into an Adult human. If a Human can go about life meeting several of it's activities of daily living with minimal assistance and with dignity, than it is a Human and should be afford the rights there-in. To me a fertilised embryo, and a Foetus are but a developmental stage before the existence of Human Life. They are to my mind a Seed before they are a Tree. They deserve protection and advocacy as potential life, but it is up to the Mother or Surrogate to decide what is best for their health and well being, without interference from outside influences. This developing collection of cells also deserves  protection from discrimination based on Sex and disability, but its existence does not trump the life of the person with a womb.

When you deny an abortion to a poor woman, or a women in an abusive/controlling relationship you increase her risk of further poverty, of suicide and put undue burdens on the child and even poorly funded charities and state services. When you deny Abortion to an immigrant woman who can not leave this country, work, or deny the marital bed to her husband you put further burden on their family. When you deny the existence of Trans-Women's right to fertility or access to abortion, you deny their gender identity and right to a family life of their own. When you restrict a Student deep in debt, with poor career prospects in a recession, in a society that still lacks pay parity, affordable child care or mandatory maintenance from the other parent, you restrict that Persons rights to decide their own future, to choose their career and choose when to start a family.

To further pretend there are no Irish Abortions, is to restrict the rights of Women and limit the growth and choices of many in our society. There are Irish abortions, they just don't happen here.

No comments: