Is It Good Enough?

imag0887This is a photo I took on the 1st of May 2018. The referendum was on the 25th of May and by the 26th of May we knew we had repealed the eighth. By the 1st of January the legislation to give effect to the proposed abortion service was in place.

I know the legislation isn’t perfect and I voted for repeal in the hope that further changes to the current law will happen. I know services aren’t as accessible as I’d like and that some people will travel.

My fear is that we’ll continue to rely on so-called hard cases to push for further reform. Every case is a hard case. No one wants a medical procedure if they can avoid it. I’ll continue to grill any political representative who comes to our door on their stance on reproductive rights.

Is this good enough? I don’t know. I think we’ll have to keep working and stay vigilant. I’m learning more and more that we can’t be complacent about anything to do with reproductive health care.

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Is It Good Enough?

Tiny Sparks of Christmas and New Year Joy

Another happy Christmas with friends and family.

Deciding to repeat last year’s New Year’s Eve plans and making it a tradition for our family.

A new hairdryer and hair straightener as part of my Christmas present. I didn’t realise how much I missed my GHD.

Taking down the decorations and getting housey jobs done.

Remembering that this was the year we repealed the eighth and completed our family.

Tiny Sparks of Christmas and New Year 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

Not Quite There Yet

rhdrThis isn’t from when we voted to repeal the eighth amendment, rather it’s a photo of the most recent presidential election and referendum vote. I think every time I pass this polling station, which is on my way to the DART station I use to get to work, I’ll think of the 25th of May 2018.

While the eighth amendment is gone, the proposed legislation is still wending its way through the Oireachtas and will be debated this week. Pro and anti choice amendments have been tabled and we need to let our elected representative know that we haven’t gone away and we still want access to free, safe and legal abortion for pregnant people in Ireland.

I’ve been meaning to get around to using Who Is My TD again to follow up on previous contacts with my TDs. I have a sleeping baby right now so I’m putting this precious time to good use. Please do the same, if you can.

Not Quite There Yet

Six Years

norThis day six years ago I went on my very first march ever. I had been shocked to my  very core by what happened to Savita. I remember exactly where I was when I heard that she had died following a miscarriage, having been refused an abortion. I had given birth a few months earlier that year and I hadn’t really understood how the eighth amendment affected me. I had associated it with not being able to get an abortion here in Ireland and people having to travel but it seemed to be a somewhat ephemeral concept, affecting Other People.

I don’t think I slept very well the night the news was reported, via the Irish Times, on Vincent Browne’s late night TV show. The next morning I donated to an abortion rights campaign and cried my eyes out listening to various radio shows discussing what had happened. It shouldn’t be the case that you only start understanding what this type of law means when you think it can affect you, but that’s how I processed the story. I remember RTE having a panel discussion before the Dáil session was to start, and one of the political correspondents wryly commenting that there were three men discussing abortion in 2012 in Ireland.

On this day six years ago we met a friend and marched with our baby from O’Connell Street to Merrion Square. I remember it raining a bit and being a very gloomy afternoon. I remember walking as it got darker and darker, and the candles being lit, and seeing banners with Savita’s face and thinking with horror that this could be anyone, including me, who is pregnant in Ireland right now.

We didn’t stay for all the speeches but that day was a turning point. The next march we went on was with two children and a greater sense of purpose. The abortion rights movement was shifting gear following the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act. On yet another march we wore our REPEAL sweatshirts and were joined by more and more people we knew.

I have been pregnant twice since the death of Savita and the eighth amendment was on my mind throughout both pregnancies. I didn’t want to be the next catalyst for social change and I regret that it took a name and a story like hers to push me and others forward. It’s so bloody unfair that, as a prochoice doctor said, if she had been able to have an abortion we wouldn’t even know her name.

Six years is a long time and yet no time at all. Thousands of people have had to travel for health care since that march. Thousands of people changed their minds and decided that yes, they trusted people and while they might make different choices we needed to change the way we treat pregnant people in Ireland. There has been a lot of hurt and I know many felt excluded by the campaign to repeal the eighth amendment. I know the proposed legislation isn’t perfect and that implementation of same is going to be another painful process. I know we could have done more and we should have known what affect this law has had on the generations before us.

In September last year I sat with friends after a march and drank wine and was convinced that we had a lot more convincing to do if we were going to get a yes vote on repealing the eighth amendment. I’m very, very glad I was wrong and that one moment I will always remember is just after 10pm on the 25th May 2018 when I saw the Irish Times exit poll predicting a landslide victory for repeal.

In six years’ time I hope I’m still thinking of Savita and the debt I owe her and the changes that have happened since that march. And I hope her parents know how many people think of her still and worked to change the law so that we won’t need to know the names of other people because they’ve been able to access the care they need rather than dying needlessly.

Thank you, Savita.

Six Years

Boo

Halloween is not one of my favourite times of the year but I’ve started to enjoy it a bit more because it means we’re getting a bit closer to my absolute favourite time of the year. This year is also a lot less scary in terms of reproductive rights than last year was, but the near constant stream of news from across the pond is certainly helping to fill the gap.

I’m planning on being very generous to the trick or treaters this year because the more I give away the less will be left in the house for me to stuff my face with. I need to drastically reduce the amount of sugar passing my lips.

Boo