Some say it is a matter of life and death. Some say it is about the beginning of human life itself.
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Some say it is an edict from God. Some say to move against the prevailing majority view in a modern Europe. Some say it is time to move with the times. It is clearly time to choose.
The bone of contention is the wording inserted the (un)popular 8th amendment to the constitution in 1983. It was then approved with an almost 70% to 30 margin in a referendum.
“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
Ever since there have been challenges which have all been defeated. It may all have taken a turn on 21 October 2012 Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar who was 17 weeks pregnant was taken to hospital. It was soon determined that she would have a miscarriage and requested an abortion together with her husband. She was denied as the medical professionals determined that there was no imminent danger to her life. She was also told that abortion was against the law as Ireland is “a catholic country”.
What the treating medical professionals had failed to detect was that she was due to the complications developing sepsis and that it was worsening. She delivered a stillborn child on 24 October and herself succumbed to the sepsis four days later. In the aftermath the Catholic Church stated that it believes in the "equal and inalienable right to life of a mother and her unborn child" and “that the Church has never taught that the life of an unborn child takes precedence over the mother”.
Outside a vintage clothing shop/cum café in the party district around the Temple Bar in Dublin a long line of women, perhaps one older than the law to be voted on, are lined up waiting to get in. By the display window a young woman dressed in black and a green military style green fatigue jacket emblazoned with a few buttons. “Abortion” said one another had a crossed over “8th” . Two of her bright red nails are also marked “8”. Her black sweatshirt carries the word “REPEAL” as does the shop window behind her.
Her story: She became pregnant with her (then) boyfriend at a way to young age. Unable to support herself let alone a child she saw no other way out than to travel to the UK for an abortion as she could not have gotten one in Ireland under the current law.
It was a sad day in her life when she flew to the UK and had the procedure. As she had broken the law in her own country she had to keep it all quiet and quick. Therefore she felt she could not take the advice not to fly after surgery and returned home bleeding with severe pains. In the aftermath she kept bleeding but could not visit her GP or a hospital fearing that she would be given up to law enforcement. She was afraid of dying but in the end made it through to tell the story today.
It is hard to comprehend her story standing on the side walk of a West European capital in the 21st century. The black sweatshirts carrying the word “REPEAL” were soon sold out and many of them along with stickers, placards and banners would be seen later in the day when 30 000 or so, an overwhelming majority of women, marched under the banner “REPEAL the 8th”.
More years than a generation have passed since the Irish population last were asked for their opinion on a woman’s right to choose. Since the Irish as the first EU country banned smoking in the workplace (2004) and approved of same-sex marriages (2015). Will 2018 hold another progressive step? Some opinion polls suggest that this time the tables may be turned. Let the Irish women (and men) have their say!
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Let it be known that even if the WonderingViking does not have a “horse in the race” he does not shy away from opinions – political or other - and is in support of the Irish (and any other) women’s right to choose.