It is five years since the death of Savita.
It is five years since I woke up to the reality of what the eighth amendment has done.
It is five years since me and my husband went on our very first march together.
Thousands of people have travelled since then for medical care abroad.
I look back at ‘the before’ and I wonder why I was asleep for so long. I was not a socially conscious college student. I had never protested anything in an active way. I was privileged, and while I knew I was privileged I didn’t appreciate or understand that privilege.
I’ve never had a slowly growing fear inside me because my period was late. I’ve never had to get information on medical services from the back of a toilet door. I’ve never had to send a message to a person I don’t know and hope against hope that he or she would turn up with pills that could land me in prison for 14 years.
I could have done more. A lot more. But I didn’t, and I am deeply ashamed of that. I am deeply ashamed of the antichoice views I held, and the fact I held them without really analysing why. I could have marched, and donated time and money, and been more invested in a movement I feel I’ve piggybacked onto.
I repeat ‘Better Late Than Never’ and I try to do more and to do better. I mourn Savita, a woman who died because of our laws. I mourn for the thousands we’ve forced abroad. I mourn for the people who are right now hoping against hope that the pills will turn up because otherwise they are out of options.
My mourning broke five years ago, when it slowly dawned on me what we had done, and putting the pieces back together has done me a world of good. Never again will I be so blind.
Finishing the work week without quitting my job in frustration. It was THAT sort of a week,
Finding new uses for old things.
Planning my Christmas baking.
Kettlebells and a tough spin class, and reminding myself how far I’ve come.
Designated Survivor on Netflix. Ludicrous plotlines, hammy scripts and a nice distraction from the current occupant of the White House.
This week the Oireachtas committee examining the eighth amendment, which all but bans abortion in Ireland and affects the medical care of every single pregnant person heard from Dr. Peter Boylan. I strongly suspect that if we hadn’t heard of one women who many people wish we hadn’t heard of this committee and debate wouldn’t be taking place.
Savita Halappanava died because of our law, and this inconvenient truth was laid bare this week not once but twice. It was baldly stated by Dr. Boylan and Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumara that the eighth amendment was the reason she died. Dr. Boylan went on to restate, in plain terms, that the eighth amendment killed her in a radio interview the day after what it suits some people to paint as a fractious meeting.
We know the eighth amendment killed her. Medical professionals told us this, yet three of our parliamentary members chose to vote to keep a law which kills in place. They would rather keep this law, knowing I, or you, or anyone else could be the next one it kills. Apparently, they also describe themselves as prolife.
I am prolife. I am prochoice. I am all the shades of grey in between. I don’t want you to die because you’re pregnant. I don’t want you forced to have an abortion because of pressure from a partner or anyone else. I don’t want you to feel you’ve no options but abortion.
I remember the day we first heard the name which, five years on, still brings tears to my eyes. I wish I didn’t know her name. I wish she was enjoying her time with her child and her husband and was as anonymous as she wanted to be.
I can’t help but feeling that knowing her name made her much more difficult to ignore. She wasn’t an X, Y, A, B, C or D. She was Savita, and I think of her almost every day, and I wish I didn’t know her name.
I’ve just finished rereading Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder. I adored the ‘Little House’ books from a young age, and borrowed them from the library again and again-I only read the whole series as an adult when I bought them for myself. As a child I didn’t put too much thought into how the books came into being and assumed they were as true to life as they appeared on reading them for the first time.
Her daughter, Rose, had a lot to do with the books, in terms of style, editing, story and writing. That’s not to detract from the books in any way, or to diminish them in my eyes or anyone else’s-they are classic historical fiction and my father enjoyed the farming descriptions as much I enjoyed reading about the daily lives of girls my age who lived so long ago.
Rose, one could surmise, repackaged many of her mother’s memories into her own prairie based novel, Let The Hurricane Roar, also called Young Pioneers. I read it once as a child but hadn’t thought about it for many years, until we had our own hurricane today. We got off lightly and managed to get many small jobs done as we headed the warnings to make only essential journeys and stayed inside once we’d secured anything that might blow away.
We have had running water all day, there hasn’t been a power cut (yet-I’ve jinxed that now) and we aren’t living miles from anyone who might be able to help in an emergency. I’m not feeling even slightly in the same category as the fictional couple in Rose’s book or the Ingalls family weathering months of blizzards in a wooden house more than a century ago.
Ophelia has left its mark here. I’m very glad we’re lucky enough to live in a place where hurricanes are such a rarity that it was back in 1961 where we had a day like this.
Eating pears from the tree in our front garden. We had no idea it was a pear tree, that it would grow edible pears and that they’d be so delicious.
Passing pears on to a friend in work. Always good to share one’s bounty.
The good kind of hangover from the march for choice last Saturday. A hangover of excitement, inspiration and hope.
An unexpectedly lighter than expected work week, along with getting paid this week.
The details we do know from the Mueller investigation. Aristotle still right after all these years: “The law is reason free from passion…Man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all.”
The women with the buggies. The two old friends holding a photo of themselves from 1983. The woman with a hijab holding a sign in Irish. The group of teenage lads with homemade signs. The woman whose dad made her sign that was photographed all the way along the route. The older women who’ve paved the way for us. The teenage girls who I’m in awe of. The friends who marched for the first time. The friends who’ve marched before I had the nerve to. The parents for choice. The midwives for choice. The Enya fans for choice. The grieving couples. The three generations marching together. The left wingers. The right wingers. The middle of the roaders. The Father Ted mastermind. The singers. The handmaids. The hastily bought badge wearers. The people sweating in their black sweatshirts because of the glorious sunshine. The immigrants who can’t vote but need us to vote for them. The borrowed t-shirts. The shoppers cheering along the way. The theatre staff giving us the thumbs up. The beeps from passing cars and buses. The tooting from the passing train. The little girls and boys waving flags bigger than they were. The stories that still make me cry. The anger and the passion of the speeches. The hope for change.
It’s time to act. Repeal the Eighth for all of us.