Tag Archives: prochoice

Gloria Steinem and #repealthe8th

I was delighted to see images on my twitter feed of Gloria Steinem posing beside the Repeal Projects jumpers and the AimsIreland T shirts.

https://twitter.com/Harmonica26/status/756831226682568705

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.

VOE STERN 24/1971 BS 1 Titel Titelseite Wir haben  abgetrieben Abtreibung 1971_24 Schlagworte:Zeitschrift, Presse
VOE STERN 24/1971 BS 1 Titel Titelseite Wir haben
abgetrieben Abtreibung 1971_24 Schlagworte:Zeitschrift, Presse

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.

Myth Busting: Rape and Birth

Guest Post

I am delighted to have a guest post by Ruaidhrí, who can be found on twitter as @Lamhfada and wrote this rebuttal of one of the appalling tweets he saw today.

Ruaidhrí Mulveen is from Galway and has studied psychology in NUI, Galway and QMU, Edinburgh. He’s (mostly) worked in health and social care

 

 

https://twitter.com/ProLifeLegend/status/740327234045628416

The state of this guy. Excuse me while I have a little rant.

 

1) Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger in the brain. Neurotransmitters don’t “heal” anything and they especially don’t heal the psychosocial trauma of rape via some unknown mechanisms in childbirth

2) Oxytocin is involved with bonding and attachment. It’s also involved in aggression and in childbirth is involved in contractions. Oxytocin modulates the impact of all social stimuli across all emotions-it increases aggression for example http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26862988 and it increases the chance of domestic violence http://spp.sagepub.com/content/5/6/691I don’t see any evidence for it reducing the trauma of rape as claimed in this tweet.

3) If giving birth reduces trauma through oxytocin (which as the above points say, seems unlikely) then we should observe a massive difference across all mental health diagnoses in people who’ve given birth, which I’m not so sure is the case. Also wouldn’t it impact upon things like post-partum depression?

4) The claims this “pro life legend” make are either lies, or well meaning distortions of bad science. Either way that’s all the anti-choice, pro 8th amendment people have- lies and distortions, however well meaning they think they are.

There’s going to be a referendum to #repealthe8th. Expect the desperate untruths like this to continue. It’s largely the same crowd who were behind the no campaign for the marriage referendum and remember all the lies and nonsense they had? It’s going to be worse in the coming referendum.

 

 Thank you Ruaidhrí for writing this rebuttal and allowing me to have it as a guest post. We will see a lot of myths, misinformation and lies as we work to #repealthe8th, which is why informed and factual pieces like this are important.

Myth Busting: Abortion and Breast Cancer

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.

http://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/breastfeed_hist

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

54 per cent of those having terminations last year were already mothers 

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.

 

TV shows which dealt with abortion

So this morning on my twitter feed there was a tweet by Donald Clarke with a link to his latest piece on the Irish Times Entitled Xena is gay: what next, Marriage?

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]

Back to the grindstone and some news

This summer has flow in and it’s been a productive one for me but not so much when it comes to my writing here; but that is going to change.

I have lots of things which I am looking forward to sharing and writing about esp after I took a week off from almost everything and didn’t even sit here at my desk at all.

 

So to that bit of news;  today I signed contracts with Cork University Press for my small contribution to The Abortion Papers Ireland: Volume 2, which is being Published by Attic Press.

IMAG0847

This makes me so joyfully happy, Attic Press has a wonderful list of gender studies, women’s studies and Irish feminist texts. Attic Press published The Abortion Papers Ireland edited by Ailbhe Smyth back in 1992, Volume 2 has been edited by Aideen Quilty, Sinéad Kennedy and Catherine Conlon making it a joint collaboration between University College Dublin, Maynooth University , Trinity College Dublin.

The Abortion Papers Ireland Volume 2 will be published this comming October.

 

 

 

Painting a different picture

They often say a picture is worth a thousand words and certainly pictures help to set the scene, the tone and context of an article. Which is why sometimes images which are paired with articles about abortion be it in the news, magazines or online can be problematic.

Often the go to image is that of a pregnant person. We have all seen them the headless pregnant woman who is 30+ weeks pregnant, is sometimes called the preggo belly shot. Sometimes the image is just a front close up  the preggo belly or other times the image is in silhouette, eliminating the woman from the image entirely.

The problem with those sorts of image it that it distorts the discussion of abortion before it even begins. The vast majority of abortions happen before 9 weeks, when person really has no outward signs of being pregnant at all. They can often be unfortunately paired with a really good pro choice piece.

Some online news outlets have gotten better at the image they choose, from using airplanes, pictures at protests rather then the preggo belly image or one of a distraught women. But how do we bring about a change in what pictures are used?

Often simply asking works. Campus.ie  recently published an article on Repealing the 8th amendment. It was by Tomás Heneghan and a great read but alas it had been paired with the preggo belly image. So Tomás and Campus.ie were asked over twitter could the image be changed; the suggestion was made for the article to have instead a stock image of a positive pregnancy test. And I’m delighted to say it was changed and it is a worth while read. http://campus.ie/surviving-college/politics/why-we-need-remove-eight-amendment

befunky_11557919223_0455d3ff7d_o.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are now starting to see a new type of image being used on articles about abortion, that of women telling their stories,  which clearly makes the article and the discussions focused on the woman, her rights and her choice.  Which is why the photograph of Tara who shared her story of travelling staring into the camera brave, defiant and unflinching is such a powerful one.

image

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/tara-they-shouldn-t-have-control-over-my-uterus-1.2089490

This means we are seeing abortion being discussed a very different way in the media in this country, one which no longer promotes stigma and shame, and this creates the space to have different conversations which we have not been able to have before. There will be no going back, we can only hope that our legislators can find a fraction of the courage Tara and other women have had to do and set in motion the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment.