It seems the majority of Ireland is trying to bring the country out of the dark ages and grant Irish women the right to decide what happens to their own bodies.
I, an American immigrant woman, currently living in Dublin was shocked to learn that such a progressive country is not as evolved in regards to women’s rights as what they may seem.
Ireland is in the top 5 on several different lists including Forbes and Fortune Magazine for being one of the worlds best countries to live in as a woman. Shockingly, considering the United States gender pay gap, the US falls all the way to 28th! Although Ireland has been progressive with women’s equality in the work place, it’s women’s reproductive rights in Ireland that have taken a backseat.
Thousands marched on September 24th in Dublin, Irelands city centre to Repeal the 8th Amendment. This discussion has been on going but really gained traction when it made headlines that a young woman who was raped was denied an abortion, she was suicidal, and was forced to have a Caesarean. Furthermore, it was not even until last year (2015) that women had access to the Morning After Pill (Plan B) without jumping through hoops…
From what I have researched and those I have talked to it has everything to do with religion.
When I started learning about the current laws and the history of women’s rights in Ireland, I was recommended a very important film by a handful of Irish women, called The Magdalene Sisters. This is a true story and I recommend that everyone takes the time to watch this film. The Magdalene Sisters follows the horrific treatment of women and their imprisonment in the Magdalene Asylums in Ireland. The Magdalene Asylums where profitable laundries ran by nuns, where (mostly poor) women were sent to repent for their sins. Basically, they were prisons or slave camps, for the “fallen women” of society. How could you end up in one of the Asylums? Well they follow the life of 3 women specifically to show the most common reasons one would end up in an asylum. The first woman Margret wound up there because she was raped by her cousin, the second Bernadette, an orphan is perceived as being “too flirty”, and Rose, a young woman who had a child outside of marriage. Women in these prisons were treated as slaves working to make profit for the laundries. They were beaten, rarely saw the light of day, and sexually abused. The last Magdalene Asylum closed in 1996.
(I found this interesting from the Irish Examiner on April 17th 2001)
“The Magdalene laundries were merely the tip of the iceberg of the crimes perpetrated against women and children by the Catholic church and the Irish clericalist state. As many as 300,000 children were locked in “industrial schools” where they were denied an education and forced to do manual work for no pay—slave labour —with the profits of their labour going to the church. From the 1940s to 1970s, a horrific medical procedure was carried out on pregnant women who would otherwise have had a caesarean birth. They were forcibly, and often without their knowledge or consent, subjected to an operation known as symphysiotomy, where the cartilage junction of the pubic bone was sawed through in order that the pelvis would “open like a hinge” during childbirth. As a consequence, many women were crippled and condemned to a life of incredible pain and suffering. Expressing the Catholic-dominated medical profession’s rationale for this inhuman butchery, Dr. Alex Spain argued that if caesarean births were carried out, “The results will be contraception, the mutilating operation of sterilisation, and marital difficulty” . Women were simply seen as vessels for making babies.”
“In addition to all this, there were the horrendous consequences of the church’s “normal” ideological brainwashing. As prominent biologist and staunch atheist Richard Dawkins aptly noted in an interview with The Dubliner magazine (September 2002)
It’s clear that there is no separation between church and state and the laws of Ireland are still very heavily influenced by the catholic church. For centuries women have been fighting for equal rights and the basic human right to choose what happens to their own bodies.
Listen, I understand people that disagree with abortion and believe it is morally wrong. I come from a very conservative, background. I am from Indiana, a very red state. The former Indiana Governor, Mike Pence ( Donald Trumps running mate for Vice President) is literally the worst human being out there when it comes to women’s rights and the LGBT community. He defunded Planned Parenthood based on his beliefs of abortion alone, which intern created an outbreak of HIV in a small Indiana town because people could not even have access to affordable STD testing. I have publically spoke of my opposition of Mike Pence in the past.
I am writing about this because whether I or you morally disagree with abortion it honestly doesn’t even matter. If you are a woman, you don’t believe in abortion, and you unexpectedly get pregnant or go through something as horrific as rape and become pregnant, then don’t have an abortion. It is your body, that’s your choice. But a woman who has already been through trauma should not be forced to also carry, give birth, and raise her rapist’s baby.
I am writing about this because every woman should have the right to choose and that is what matters. It doesn’t matter what you or I believe. What matters is every human should have the right to decide what happens with their own bodies. These archaic laws have been passed primarily by men and their religious ideologies. What she has been through is horrific enough.
No woman wants to have an abortion…it’s an extremely difficult and painful process and life choice to have to make. The fact is that women who are seeking an abortion will find a way to do it regardless if it is legal or not. If they want an abortion they will find a way, resorting to extremely desperate and unsafe measures that puts both lives at risk.
Some may believe that I should not have an opinion on this since I am not an Irish citizen, but I care about the women of Ireland and they deserve the human right to choose.
If you would like to help grant the women of Ireland reproductive rights you can sign the petition to Repeal the 8th by clicking here: