Around this time four years ago I and my husband of several months marched in favour of repeal of the eighth amendment after the death of Savita. I hadn’t been on a protest march before and to my shame I’d rolled my eyes at the various marches I’d seen promoted in college during my time there. Protesting seemed to be for people with way too much time on their hands.
Now I wonder why I was so blasé for so long. Why I didn’t know how dangerous the eighth amendment was. Why I never thought it would be the thing that would get me out of my privileged white middle class comfort zone and onto a march with people of all backgrounds. Why do many people still not entirely appreciate what impact this appalling constitutional provision has on all women and the ripples it spreads throughout the lives of everyone?
Part of me thinks it is because we don’t know how this impacts on us until the carpet is lifted a bit and we’re forced to look at what’s rotten beneath. Like when a grieving husband is on international television explaining that his miscarrying wife was forced to remain in pain because of a collective madness that gripped the religious right back in 1983. Of course Savita could never have known when she got on a plane to come to Ireland to work that something pushed through in the midst of a politically unstable time by a church and its followers of a faith she didn’t practice could cause her death.
I was thinking about when I got married and what I thought about the future. I am fairly confident the eighth amendment wasn’t something I thought would affect me or what would get me on a march. Now I know better. And because I know better, I do better. I wear my REPEAL sweatshirt and badges to Ikea because I want to send out the message that a protest movement isn’t just for students with too much time on their hands. I’m vocal about why I’m in favour of repeal and I don’t sugarcoat what it means for me, as a woman of 35 in Ireland, when the issue comes up in places as varied as my nail salon to work lunches and everywhere in between.
Repeal, is, actually, what I want for Christmas. Because choice should be available at any time. And because no family should have to spend Christmas wondering whether their daughter, mother and partner can be offered dignity in death rather than remaining on life support as a rotting corpse. That happened two years ago. I don’t want to be this year’s letter in the newspaper, actually.