The 8th Amendment

The 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution concerns the right to life of the unborn. At the moment women in this country who are seeking an abortion must travel outside of Ireland to get it.

It occurred to me that my last post about holding on to life come what may might be taken as a statement on the 8th. It’s not. And I didn’t want to make any statement on the 8th but as I’ve walked myself into this position I guess I must.

A few weeks ago I read a headline in the Irish Times that said I’m Pro-Life and Pro-Choice. I didn’t read it I just nodded my head vigorously for a second and then moved on. I see no reason to read something I already know I agree with. I would go further though. I’d say I’m anti-abortion, I’m pro-life and I’m pro-choice.

If I thought that keeping the 8th would actually stop anyone from having an abortion I wouldn’t be in favour of repealing the amendment. And when discussions about allowing abortions in Ireland started in the wake of the positive result in marriage equality referendum I was pretty sure I would vote No in such a referendum. I also thought comparing gay marriage, which is a celebration of love, to abortion was … not a good idea – please don’t do that. What changed my mind was reading a (another) piece in the Irish Times by Roisin Ingle where different women spoke of their own experience, some who regretted it and some who didn’t, and reading that made it really obvious that making women leave this country to have an abortion wasn’t causing anyone to change their mind, it was punishing them and making a very difficult experience even worse.

I don’t in any way condemn anyone that’s had an abortion. I certainly don’t want them to be in any way punished. And if you’ve had an abortion and you don’t regret it I’m glad you don’t. And if you are regretting it. Don’t. In the last post I spoke about everything having a soul – which is something I believe – but I believe our souls are all connected and at the collective level there is omniscience, understanding and love. Please reject that if it doesn’t bring you comfort. I believe what supports me. You believe what supports you.

Also I know that sometimes abortions are medically necessary – it’s crazy that there is any question about accessing the procedure when it’s necessary to save the life of the mother.

But maybe you are not someone who is pro-choice. Maybe you feel that the 8th amendment does protect life and you’re disappointed to find that someone who claims to be pro-life supports its repeal. I am anti-abortion. I don’t think it’s progressive or modern. I believe that if our societies and medical technologies were truly civilised and modern then we would have societies where no woman would ever be shamed for getting pregnant, no woman would have to choose between furthering her career or having a baby, no mother would have to choose between being able to afford providing for the children she has and somehow scraping by with having another child to take care of, no woman would ever become pregnant against her will, and no woman would ever have the devastating experience of being told that their unborn child may not make it to term and is unlikely to live long after that if it does.

Abortion rates are on the decline, apparently throughout the world. I think all sides of the abortion debate are claiming credit for the decline. I’ve got say though I think that in developed countries the fact that there is much less, if any, shame about being a single mother, the fact that perhaps people don’t view building a career in the way that they once did, the fact that there is some – but nowhere near enough – help to parents who are struggling financially, and that medical technology is advancing in some miraculous ways, is part of the reason for that decline.

So I believe that if we want to see the numbers of abortions decline significantly, rather than forcing women to take a boat or plane to Britain which isn’t having any other effect than punishing these women, we should work at having societies that really support and foster life. I believe we can do this by making the essentials of life more accessible and affordable, and also in prioritising investment in research and development of medicine and medical technologies. And also by being less judgemental and more supportive of each other generally.

Maybe you agree. Maybe you don’t. I didn’t want to comment on this at all. But because the last post makes it clear that I am pro-life I knew I had to state plainly – yes, I’m anti-abortion, I’m pro-life and I’m pro-choice. Let’s repeal it. And make our society more pro-life in the real sense.

 

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