This wonderful piece was written by Deborah Curran who has given me permission to reproduce it here.
For the Men who think the Eighth Amendment has nothing to do with them.
I was told by a man last week that he wasn’t going to vote in the upcoming referendum to remove the eighth amendment, not because he didn’t agree, he did! But he felt it wasn’t his place, it was a woman’s issue and women should be the ones to decide over their own bodies. He was a lovely, respectful, caring, married man, with daughters. I spoke to other men at a fundraiser last week who told me that they too are supporting a yes vote and while they will vote they did not speak to other men about the 8th amendment or abortion. In all cases, these men felt that not alone were they not affected by the eighth amendment but men, in general, were not impacted by it.
The fact is, the eighth generally doesn’t affect any of us until the worst happens, and since 1980 the worst has happened to 170,216 women who have traveled. However, this number doesn’t take account of the men involved. 70% of women from Ireland who access abortions are married or in a relationship…with a man.
This is something to do with men. Its often men who also travel, they book flights, find money, sit in waiting rooms sick with worry before getting her home, both exhausted and broken from the trauma, shame, and secrecy. None of the men I spoke to had even considered men in this scenario, they are completely overlooked.
There are men who hold their devastated partner as they get the news that their baby won’t survive outside the womb. In Ireland, the eighth means these women and men must see a pregnancy through to full-term, 39 weeks. For some couples they may want to do this but for many they travel. They can’t psychologically deal with knowing their baby may be in pain, or the risk to the woman’s life should something go wrong, or the utter mental trauma of grieving while still pregnant. These men have to help their partner through the devastation of delivering their stillborn baby away from home and their families and doctors. They sometimes take the boat so they can bring their baby back…in the boot of their car! A 10-hour journey. Can you even imagine this? It’s so utterly disrespectful to all involved but voting yes will ensure these men and women will be at home with their support network.
How many Dads think this is nothing to do with them? The eighth means that in the case of a pregnancy complication where their daughter’s life is threatened, she must be in ‘immediate’ danger before doctors can treat her and as we have sadly seen, sometimes this is just too late. It means in the case of a cancer diagnosis, she possibly cannot get treatment while pregnant, it means that if she is raped she has to see through the pregnancy. Remember this, its 35 years since the last vote, that’s a generation of women, a generation of fathers who were helpless in the face of the eighth amendment. Voting yes ensures that if a crisis pregnancy every comes to your door, your daughter is at home with your support, under Irish care in an Irish hospital.
If you are a fertile heterosexual male who has sex it is your issue too. The majority of crisis pregnancies happen because contraception has failed. Yet this one failure results in a couple ending up in an abortion clinic in another country. It’s only when this happens Irish men realise the eighth does have something to do with them. To this point they didn’t realise it’s illegal to take abortion pills, or that it’s between €400 and €1500 for the clinic, or that flights and boats are so expensive at certain times of the year and they don’t realise how quickly time runs out when trying to organise this.
If you still think it isn’t a man’s place to vote, you are wrong! This is not a time to be respectful, it is not a time to leave this to women. Women, your women, your daughters, your partners, your sisters, your friends, they can’t do this on their own. They cannot change this without you. They cannot get access to safe terminations, at home with their partners, unless you vote yes. You can be sure the men who are happy with the current limitations the eighth imposes on doctors and women will definitely turn out to vote no. And without men voting yes on May 25th this referendum will not pass. Abortion is not nice, no one, man or woman wants this, no man or woman chooses it as the easy option, but life is full of grey areas and the eighth is designed for black and white, it’s simply not working! Doctors are saying they cannot do their jobs, they are saying abortion is here, either through illegal pills or airline flights. It’s time we brought our women and our men home. Your yes vote matters, not just to women but to men too, your friends, your family, your colleagues and it might even matter to you one day, but if you don’t vote or if you vote no, you may sadly join the club of the shamed and silenced who have gone before you.
Deborah Curran is also on twitter, you can find her here.