This was published after I traveled to Galway to be part of a discussion on this very issue as part of Galway Pride Festival.
— Siobhán (@WellNowUniverse) August 18, 2016
I got to meet a so many people, who had a range of sexualities and gender identities and I got asked to sign a cast.
I you want to know more click through to this months CGN issue and to page 16.
This popped on on my memory feed on Facebook, 4 years ago I took part in this photo op, which was for the 1st March for Choice. We have come a long way as the preparation for this years March for Choice (on the 24th of September) is in full swing.
If someone had of told me then, there would be donuts, people clamoring for jumpers, Farmers for Choice, a Fantasy Footy League and a growing number of pro choice TDs, I would have found it hard to believe.
We have come a long way in 4 years, and that is due to all of the hard amazing work people have put in to the Abortion Rights Campaign, putting in hours with skills they have, sharing those skills and learning new ones as we keep pushing for a referendum.
— AIMS Ireland (@AIMSIreland) July 22, 2016
But I wasn’t one bit surprised. Ms Steinem was one of the Founders and Editors of Ms Magazine and it’s debut issue in December 1972 featured 52 women stating “We Had an Abortion”
This action followed on from the French & German Actions of June that year: the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur Published the Manefestio which was orchestrated by Simone de Beauvoir and was sign by 343 women and the Stern Magazine cover is wonderful and 70 women came out about having had an abortion.
All these actions happened before I was even born, but I knew that if women in Ireland are to have the right to an abortion when we need one, then just like the women in France, Germany and the USA some of us were going to have to go public with our stories. Which is why I chose to start telling my story, which by a quirk of fate was also published in Le Nouvel Observateur
But I was just one person back in 2013 but soon other women started stepping forward, and when I was asked to take part in the X-ile Project it was something I could not refuse.
Women in Ireland have started to come forward to ‘come out’ (as Panti Bliss recently put it) about their abortions, we have done so follow the footsteps of many other brave women, and Gloria Steniem is one of those women. She has shared her story about having to get an illegal abortion.
So I will be keeping an eye out for Gloria Stenism on the Women’s Podcast, I am looking forward to what she has to say about #repealthe8th, I don’t doubt she agrees that we need Free Safe Legal and local abortion services in Ireland.
— Roisin Ingle (@roisiningle) July 22, 2016
So one of the other claptrap things which get said is that abortion increases a person’s risk of breast cancer; this is false.
There is zero connection between having an abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer.
There is how ever a connection between breastfeeding and lowering the risk of breast cancer.
Breastfeeding can lower breast cancer risk, especially if a woman breastfeeds for longer than 1 year. There is less benefit for women who breastfeed for less than a year, which is more typical for women living in countries such as the United States. There are several reasons why breastfeeding protects breast health:
- making milk 24/7 limits breast cells’ ability to misbehave
- most women have fewer menstrual cycles when they’re breastfeeding (added to the 9 missed periods during pregnancy) resulting in lower estrogen levels
- many women tend to eat more nutritious foods and follow healthier lifestyles (limit smoking and alcohol use) while breastfeeding
Beyond breast health protection, breastfeeding provides important health benefits to the baby and helps the bonding process.
So people who say that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer are assuming that a woman who has an abortion doesn’t already have children and hasn’t already breast fed.
The published stats from the NHS in the UK show that
So people who say that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer are assuming that a woman who has an abortion won’t go on to have have children children later in life, when it’s right for them to do so and maybe they might breast feed
Yes breastfeeding is best for a baby, and it can lower the risk of breast cancer, but “My Body My Choice” is not just about continuing a pregnancy, it is also about breast feeding.
Sometimes continuing a pregnancy is not the best thing for a person, sometimes breastfeeding is not the best thing for a person, some times it’s just not possible for a range of reasons and thank heavens we do have formula, we do have that Choice.
Anyone who says there is a connection between abortion and breast cancer is in my opinion being willfully ignorant of the medical facts, and of how people live their lives.
I had an abortion, I also have two children, both of whom I breastfed, all of those things were my choice about what I did with my body, and all of those choices should be respected and not used to scaremonger or tell people what they should do with their body.
This morning I had to as part of one of my college modules deliver a 2 minute oral presentation on a topic of my choosing. I had chosen 5 reasons to Repeal the 8th as my topic, but given recent events decided to do 5 facts about the abortion pills.
“Good Morning, I am here to tell you two things and five facts. ”
I raised my right hand up with with raised fingers and then my left with five raised fingers. Then lowered my right and and ticked off with my fingers on my right both things.
“The first thing I am going to tell you is that I am angry, very angry and that anger is why I am not going to talk about the topic I indicated to our lecturer I am going to instead in light of the court case in Belfast, I am going to talk about the abortion pills.
The second thing I will tell you is that, some of what I am about to say may be illegal, it may break the 1995 abortion information act, but as no one has ever been prosecuted under the act and the abortion pills were not considered when it was created I don’t know for sure. ”
I then lowered my right and and raised my left with all fingers raised, curling one after the other as I ticked off each fact starting with my index finger.
“The first fact is that the pills which are know as the abortion pills are legal for that use everywhere in the EU bar Ireland and Malta. The have been legal in France from 1988, which means that in 1992 if Miss X the 14 year old who was raped had of lived in France she could have been prescribed the pills by a dr and the pregnancy ended in 24hours, instead of facing court injunctions, traveling and national uproar.
The second fact is that the pills are legally used everywhere in the EU bar Ireland and Malta to end a pregnancy in the first 10 to 12 weeks of a pregnancy. This means if Migrant Y had of been in another EU country when she discovered she was 8 pregnant from rape, she could have been she could have been prescribed the pills by a dr and the pregnancy ended in 24hours. Instead due to the 8th amendment she was forced to continue a pregnancy she did not want, had medical treatment she did not want and was forced to have a C Section.
The third fact is the pills are part of health care, if you are undergoing chemotherapy and the mandatory test you do before you start your scheduled dose show you are pregnant the chemotherapy is stopped. This Happened to Michele Harte, she took the hospital in Cork to court to get an abortion to continue her chemo and was denied. Eventually while very ill she travelled to the UK for an abortion and came back to continue her chemotherapy. In any other EU country bar Ireland and Malta you can be she could have been prescribed the pills by a dr and the pregnancy ended in 24hours. Michele Sued the HSE and won, but died from her cancer soon after.
The fourth fact is these pills are prescribed to women all over the country by maternity hospitals and units when they have had a incomplete miscarriage. They are prescribed the pills by a dr and fill the prescription, take the pills at home and what is left of the pregnancy is ended in 24hours.
The fifth fact is that if the young woman in Belfast, who has been given a suspended sentence, had of being living in another part of the UK in Scotland, Wales or England, the use of the pills would have been legal, she would have for free been prescribed the pills by a dr and filled the prescription, taken the pills at home. If she lived in the Republic of Ireland she could have been given a sentence of up to 14 years”
At this stage I folded down my thumb creating a fist of solidarity and kept it raised.
“I am angry and today I stand in solitary with the young woman in Belfast, with the 10 women a day who travel to Ireland to the UK to have an abortion and the many others who can not afford to travel and risk 14 years to import and use the abortion pills at home.
I am Janet O’Sullivan, I am a spokesperson for the Abortion Rights Campaign, and if you want to hear me talk more on this, I will be on Community Radio Castlebar, 109.2fm at 5:30pm. This Revolution is being Broadcast.”
I am still angry, but anger is an energy, it’s fueling a lot of us and we will use it to Repeal the 8th amendment and bring in the abortion rights which we need.
The piece looks at how in the medium of TV gay* presentation has changed and be come more normalized and frequent but that women having abortion is not part of the stories show and how
Visibility matters. More than anything else, everyday encounters with gay people changed society’s attitudes to the marriage debate. When, as has happened recently, women calmly – without pretending to shame – discuss their own abortions in the media, chinks open up in the information cordon that has grown up around this fraught issue.
The people who commission TV programmes and commercial movies also need to show some guts. Viewers are not so fragile as advertisers and programmers pretend. They can be trusted with the real world.
The thing is, abortion has been part of the stories told via the medium of TV.
1989 the British sitcom Birds of a Feather, in its first season aired the episode Women’s Troubles, which dealt with Trush and an unexpected pregnancy, in which one of the two leads, Sharon chooses to have an abortion. It shows the two sisters supporting each other, despite them being in very different places in their lives when it comes to continuing a pregnancy.
Also in 1989 Degrassi High aired, a show about going to High School in Canada, by episode 2 of it’s opening season it had a student dealing with an unexpected pregnancy and what decision to make. Heather talks it out with her twin sister, who doesn’t agree with her choice but end the end supports and accompanies her to the clinic.
The Degrassi franchise was rebooted and Degrassi: The Next Generation also has had an abortion episode. The story was spit into two parts and aired at the start of 2004. Accidents will happen follows Manny’s process of choosing what to do, talking to her friend, her boyfriend and getting the support of her mother who bring her to the clinic.
Of course Sex and the City dealt with abortion, the episode Couda, woulda, shoulda aired in 2001 and deals with a range of the reproductive stories of the 4 ladies. Miranda is dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, Charlotte struggling with possible infertility and both Carrie and Miranda share their abortion stories.
2001 saw our very own Fair City have an abortion story line, Kay McCoy was happily pregnant when she and her husband get a fatal fetal diagnoses of , trisomy-13. Kay opts to travel to the UK to have a Termination for medical reasons. That was 15 years ago and needless to say the producers got hammered in the press and RTE had complaints lodged and vast tracts were written by anti abortion campaigners.
Abortion was also part of the stories in 6 foot under, orange is the new black, Grey’s Anatomy in 2011 dared to show more then ever before when Cristina Yang had her abortion, of course Girls had an abortion episode.
And most recently Scandal November 2015 had Olivia Pope choose to have an abortion which was counter pointed by Milly’s fillabustering in the US Senate to keep planned parenthood’s budget as non optional, echoing the 11 hours Wendy Davis spent on her feet to try prevent abortion restriction legislation in Texas.
So it is not that abortion doesn’t feature as a story in TV shows, but I think that the episodes are seen as too controversial at times to discuss.
Sure the Fair city Wikipedia lists all of the other scandals and issues which the show has covered but Kay’s abortion story and having to travel is barely listed and not dated like the rest of the entries. If anyone is an wiki editor and wants to make that addition the link is here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_City#Social_realism
So it does happen, even in an Irish context there is precedent. we have come a long way from when the brave people from Fubar Films made 50,000 secret journeys and the struggle to get it aired.
I do how ever echo Donald’s call to have more programs made which do cover abortion and in such away that shows how normal it is, but how abnormal having to travel is; but also how the 8th amendment is detrimental to all maternal care and is more then just about abortion.
*[Gay only as bisexual representation is still far behind, I really must get around to writing about that]