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Strokestown, abortion stigma and me.

Novemember 2012, nearly 6 years ago, was the first time  I came to stay in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon. I had passed through it before on the bus out to stay with friends in Balllina. I know I am that strange Dublin person who actually travels outside of the Pale.

My friend Lora O’Brien had asked me to come and be a speaker at a two day Goddess conference in the Visitor centre in Tlusk. where she was the manager.  I had agreed to do this before the death of Savita had broken and that Saturday I was in Strokestown and not attending one of the vigils and Marches which sprung up all over the country. I knew how many there were as I was at the time the sole admin for the Irish Choice Networks website and I kept updating the list there and on the ICN facebook page.

I kept my speaking commitment and on the way down in the car I got talking with friends about abortion and about what had happened to Savita, about the law here and about the restrictions the 8th Amendment put in place.

When we arrive into Lora’s the conversation continued after she had welcomed us and made us tea. She said that she didn’t think things were going to change as abortion wasn’t really such a common thing, as sure none of her friends had had an abortion.

I looked at her and smiled and said “Hi I am one of your friends and I have had an abortion”. That was the first of many, many conversations I was to have with friends over the coming months. While the vast majority of my friends knew I was very prochoice, I still hadn’t disclosed that I myself had travelled.

From November through to the end of January 2013 I told more of my friends, I had those conversations. I am blessed they were so supportive, and so at the meeting at which the name of the Abortion Rights Campaign was announced, I publically stated for the first time in person to a room of mostly strangers that “I had an abortion”.

This all started in Strokestown, which I came back to visit frequently, even spending summer holidays here with my children and celebrating Winter solstice and Summer solstice with friends and family.

And here I am again in Strokestown, today as Roscommon For Yes launches as we finally have a referendum to Repeal the 8th Amendment. When I said I would travel to as many counties as possible I contacted a range of groups and let the schedule evolve as it would. And so the first place I find myself invited to is Strokestown.

Its funny but for me personally not surprising as this place is for me connected with the Goddess I have the deepest connection with that of the Great Queen also know as An Mór-Ríoghain or The Morrigan.

The Warrior Queen, the Battle Crow, the Goddess of Sovereignty. And that is what we have been fighting for the rights of sovereignty over our own bodies. The last few years haven’t been easy, hell the last few months have not been easy, but I know She has had my back. So I am happy to make this pilgrimage here. 

I have always smiled when some have called me the Witch involved with the abortion rights campaign, yes I am a pagan, I have never hidden it. I spoke about it on the @Ireland account at the start of the week when I was a curator, Lora did too.

There are as many pagans in Ireland as there are Jewish people according to the last census, we are people just like everyone else, who’s spiritual life, helps us through the hard time and helps us celebrate the good times.

So I am delighted and honoured to be here in Strokestown today.

Aisghair Abú

 

 

Thank you to those who donated to my Fundme who made this trip and blog post possible.

 

Abortion Rates

Countries which make abortion legal & bring in free contraception always see abortion rates drop. Right now we have no idea what the complete abortion rates for people living in Ireland is. This is due to a number of factors.

Not everyone who travels to the UK gives an Irish address, some will give the UK address of a friend or family member. Some people travel to The Netherlands & again don’t give an Irish address but a friends or family members address. Some travel to other countries but only the UK & the Netherlands report back stats of those who gave an Irish address.

Both & have given stats about the number of people who contact them, but again we don’t know how many are actually using the abortion pills. Some people may order them and then choose not to take them as they have had a change or circumstance.

Anytime you hear/read statements about increased abortion rates, remember we only have a guestiment of current numbers. But we do know, as in Switzerland making abortion legal + free contraception = low rates of abortion.

And free contraceptive services for anyone who needs them was recommended by the Joint Oirteachtas Committee and is part of the plans Simon Harris as Minister for Health will be putting in place.

So after we Vote Yes on the 25th of May we need to let the Minister and our TDs know we support Free contraceptive services for everyone.

This is one of the posts created with the support of my go fund me campaign.
Thank you

Abortion Stigma

Abortion stigma damaging to the mental health of those who have had an abortion and those who may have an abortion.

https://www.ul.ie/research/blog/abortion-stigma-linked-worse-health-new-study-finds 

The research has been published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly and is available online on UL’s institutional repository.

Dr Aisling O’Donnell of UL’s Department of Psychology, who led the research, explains: “While in the past, it has been assumed that having an abortion leads to worse mental or physical health, there has been no research-based evidence that this is the case. However, there is evidence that women who have abortions are stigmatised, and also that numerous types of stigma are linked to worse mental and physical health. That was the starting point for our research.”

Dr O’Donnell and her team, investigated whether the health issues that related to stigma also applied to the stigma surrounding abortion. The team focused particularly on Ireland, using online surveys to gather information from women who had had abortions about their feelings of stigmatisation and other mental and physical health symptoms.

“In Ireland, no one can escape the knowledge that abortion is stigmatised in our society, and this includes women who access abortion services,” Dr O’Donnell says.

“When women internalise this stigma, they feel isolated from others, and in turn this is associated with psychological and physical health problems.”

As her team’s research has found very real health problems associated with stigmatisation Dr O’Donnell believes that it is incumbent on all citizens to reduce stigmatisation of those who have had abortions.

Abortion stigma is real and unfortunately we are being bombarded with it currently, by the Vote No sides of the the referendum campaign.

Abortion stigma effected my well being and it if effect the well being of people all over Ireland, the sooner it is considered a harmful relic by us all the better it will be.

Together for Yes poster campaign launches!

You can donate here!

https://togetherforyes.causevox.com

 

Already between me filming this and posting it, the amount raised has gone from 130,000 to 150,000!

This is how Together For Yes  will raise the money which will be spent on the campaign, from prochoice people all over Ireland.  We have been waiting a long time for this to happen, it’s been over 5 years from when the Abortion Rights Campaign was founded, to bring about a referendum and it’s members from all over the country have been working and preparing.

More blog posts to come soon, still feck that’s the fund raiser today and the restoration of the Maser Mural yesterday which have had me crying, but they are happy tears! No doubt more will be shed between now and the 25th of May!