Tiny Sparks of Joy

img_20190319_121430-1This view. A place in Dublin I rarely walk around. I forgot how nice a riverside stroll can be.

The aforementioned stroll led to a long overdue lunch with friends and plans for more catchups.

Looking forward to another referendum. We do love a good referendum. Thanks, Irish Constitution.

Finally being in the headspace to be able to listen to analysis of the referendum on the eighth amendment. Still brings all the emotions to the surface. Still can’t quite believe its normal to see advertisements for abortion services at bus stops and in the local health clinic.

Feeling stronger after every gym session.

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Tiny Sparks of Joy

Election 1918

 

 

I’d kind of missed the fact that it’s the 100 year anniversary of the 1918 election in Ireland, for which the franchise was substantially expanded and women could vote for the first time. I like the fact that we still vote using paper and pencils and that then as now people could spoil their ballots if they so wished.

Having no other plans this evening I’m going to watch some of the “election coverage” on television. My daughter is the same age her great grandfather was in 1918. I hope she’ll remember going to vote with us to repeal the eighth amendment and in favour of marriage equality and the other visits to polling stations along the way.

This week the Bill to provide for legal abortion services was passed. A hundred years ago women got more rights, and I hope next year we can give more rights to those who need them.

 

Election 1918

Legisl8

davIt took 20 years to legislate on the referendums on the X Case. This week feels a little surreal. Less than seven months after we passed the 36th amendment legislation on abortion services is wending its way through the Oireachtas. It isn’t perfect legislation and it will exclude people who need to access abortion services when they have a diagnosis of a non-fatal foetal disability, those who don’t meet the 12 week deadline and those who face barriers to access like conscientious objections.

I’m torn on waiting to get the legislation to be more inclusive and seeing the need to pass the current Bill and keep working on service provision. It’s been hard to listen to some TDs talk about pregnant people, in particular the narrative I have heard and, for a long time, believed about abortion. There’s been some very nasty rhetoric that I don’t think I’ll forget.

I still think of Savita every day, and when I woke at 5.17 am today she was on my mind as I saw on my phone that the Dáil had passed the Bill to regulate the termination of pregnancy. My heart sinks when I think about whether we’ll have to hear about another Savita in order to get the law right. I hope we won’t, but the reality is that abortion services are going to be restricted in Ireland for the foreseeable future.

I do hope that come the new year people who need care won’t be getting their information from lampposts like the ones we’ve been used to seeing. I hope everyone who needs care can access it. I hope we don’t have more letters in the courts because we didn’t care for those who needed care. We’ve come a long way, but we know from bitter experience that this is not the end of the fight.

Legisl8

En Famille

I will have delivered my baby tomorrow. It’s five year since I last delivered a baby. Some things loom large, other things I’ve had to ask about and read up on because, by accident or design, I’ve forgotten them. It’s good and bad that I know what lies ahead. The hellish stage of caring for a newborn looms large. As does the joy of seeing a new person in our family.

I’ve been thinking about all the women in our families who’ve done this before. My husband’s grandmother, who had 17 births to her credit. My grandmother, who delivered eight children, including a set of twins. My mother and mother in law, my sister in law and other relatives who’ve been through this.

I’ve been thinking further back too, to the women who were pregnant and labouring during times which were much more trying than the current state of the nation. I’ve been thinking of the girls and women in Tuam most particularly. I think about them being 39 weeks pregnant, as I am, and knowing they will have to birth babies they won’t be able to keep, and knowing that there’s a chance those babies will die because they’ve probably seen this happen myriad times already.

I had no say in how I delivered my first child. She (I thought she was a he and got an enormous shock) had settled into a comfortable but dangerous position and didn’t budge, so it was a c section and a planned and controlled birth. My second pregnancy also ended in a section, but various factors made me feel a lot more in control and it was an empowering decision and experience. I’ll be back in theatre, with that same feeling of control that you don’t often get to experience during pregnancy, when so much is outside your control, tomorrow.

This is the very first time I have been pregnant in Ireland without the eighth amendment being in place. My hospital consultant was part of the campaign to repeal the eighth. The legislation to give effect to the repeal of the eighth and introduce abortion services here has yet to be passed, but it is fantastic knowing it is on the way and our families won’t have to experience a pregnancy under it ever again.

En Famille

Musings for 2018.

I’m pretty happy about the opinion polls on repealing the eighth amendment. I wish the media would stop calling it the abortion referendum, however-it affects every single pregnancy.

I have continued to obsessively track the Mueller investigation via my subscription to the New York Times (the best money I spend each month), social media and political commentary. Rereading All The President’s Men again might be in order.

I’ve signed up for the Frugalwoods’ frugal challenge for January. It’s a little extreme for me but I would like to work on my finances a bit and January is a birthday, plan free zone for us most years.

I am glad to see the back of 2017, but then I was glad to see the back of 2016 for myriad reasons. I really hope something comes of the Mueller investigation, that we repeal the eighth and that my finances spark a lot of joy this day next year.

Musings for 2018.

On Privilege

The committee on the eighth amendment, dealing with the (very unexpected, I suspect) recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Ireland’s constitutional guarantee to ensure only those who travel can access abortion, rolls on towards its conclusion in the next week or so. Many of its members have clearly gone on a journey during this process, and hearts and minds have been changed. Most have engaged in a thoughtful, open-minded way, with three notable exceptions.

The committee chairperson, Senator Catherine Noone, has done sterling work and seeing her in action is a reminder to me of just how little I would want to be a politician. I ma far too hot headed and reactionary to ever be as patient as she has been. I’m glad to see the work of other female politicians being recognised too.

Senator Noone reads out a paragraph or two at the start of every meeting, as happens in every other Oireachtas committee meeting, reminding all those present, members and witnesses alike, of their privilege. Politicians speaking have absolute privilege when speaking to either House of the Oireachtas or to a committee convened by the Houses.

Privilege is something that I was reminded of again and again when I watched proceedings and followed updates on Twitter. The privilege of seeing parliamentary processes in action. The privilege of having political representatives who want to engage with the process. The privilege of being a woman of means who can travel for medical care abroad. The privilege of hearing all the arguments play out in public and people slowly coming to the realisation of the horror this amendment has perpetuated.

Privilege comes in many forms. The three men who didn’t want to engage with the process, tried to frustrate the process and didn’t ever intend to change their minds are privileged. They are white. They are Catholic, in a country whose parliament starts every day with a Catholic prayer. They are men. They are Irish. They have never had to weigh up their options on seeing a positive pregnancy test.

They have a very special privilege that many of us will never have. When they speak in the committee, they are absolutely privileged. This means they can say what they like. They can manipulate statistics. They can lie. They can make accusations. They did so, again and again and again. I recognise the importance of privilege in a parliamentary debate, and the importance of the checks and balances of our republic. But seeing three privileged men exercise absolute privilege in defence of a law that kills women is difficult to take.

On Privilege