Tag Archives: prochoice

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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This appeared in my social media feeds over the last week, I’ve tried to track down who’s work it is, as it is a wonderful piece. If you know, do let me know.

It succinctly makes the point about single mother’s which I mentioned in my piece about The Snapper and Ireland’s attitudes to “unmarried mothers” and unplanned pregnancy..

Connecting with Pro Choice people on the Streets of Dublin

Last Saturday the 2nd of March as part of the 10 days of Action which is part of the
Abortion Rights Campaign I was doing my bit by taking to the streets to help run a stall and hand out leaflets.

Basic street politics, and I must admit it has been a while from when I last did that sort of activity, I’ve had a busy few months taking part in meetings,photo ops, rallies and marches but I hadn’t stood handing leaflets.

Specifically these leaflets for the Action on X rally

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So I was a little apprehensive about doing thing and what reaction I may get and then I watched Amanda Palmer’s Ted talk. In which she talks about connecting with people and part of the talk was about her 5 years of being a living statue and connecting with strangers on the streets and how it was about eye contact.

You can watch it here if your interested. http://www.ted.com/talks/amanda_palmer_the_art_of_asking.html

So get out to hand out leaflets and make connections with people, I’ve found it easier to be upbeat when you have some theme music for the day, mine was baby elephant walk which always makes me smile, so with a song in my heart and a smile on my face I was ready to reach out to people.

I stood at the underpass of the Central Bank as people passed through heading to Dame St or Temple bar, it was a busy enough afternoon. I held up my stack of leaflets in one hand so people could read them as they pass and offered one for them to take with the other. Some people didn’t take one but read what I was holding in passing.

I had one group of American tourists tell me I was going to hell, but 7 other American tourists over the two hours I was there told me to keep up the good work. I had some parents steer their children away from me and some quietly take a leaflet form when where they kids had passed me by.

We all have our preconceptions about who is interested in abortion rights, but I had has many young men take leaflets as young women and they were more inclined to stop and talk.

I had one old man admonish me for handing out the leaflet stopping to block me from people passing by and tapping my hand down which was handing out leaflets, while saying “You do know abortion is murder, dear” I told him I disagreed and went to hand out leaflets again and again he tapped my hand down, like I was a naughty child saying ” But dear women who have abortions are murderers” I told him that if he touched me again I would consider it assault and that calling me a murderer was slander. He walked on telling me I was going to hell.

I had several older women talk leaflet and stop to talk to me. One asked me quite bluntly “is this about Abortion” not being sure how the exchange would go I explained the rally is to get X Case legislation in place, as it has been over 20 years and we still don’t have legislation. “Good” She replied and asked were we working for more rights as those who have been raped should have the right to an abortion, I was happy to tell her that yes the Abortion Rights Campaign is working towards securing that right for those who need it.

I had another older woman take the leaflet, stand reading it and say ” Tomorrow is it?” I replied yes “Great, I don’t do the internet thing, but I will let my girls know, can I have some more of those?” So I handed her 5 more leaflets.

Over all I had mostly positive encounters with people smiling, giving me a thumbs up or waving a leaflet they had gotten from one of the volunteers, so the next time I take to the pavements it will be with a lot less trepidation as I did feel that the majority of people I encountered were pro choice bearing out the recent polls.

The Abortion Rights Campaign Website is Live

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http://www.abortionrightscampaign.ie/

And the Abortion Rights Campaign Website is Live.

Did you ever think you would see the day that there would be a .ie with the term abortion in the site address? I don’t think that even a year ago it would have happened which shows how much has changed. Every time I see the logo with the words ‘Abortion Rights Campaign’ I nearly have to pinch myself to make sure it is real.

When that name was first suggested, it was considered maybe a step to far but then we had the Masters of our maternity hospitals come out and say that Abortions are preformed in this country in their hospitals every year and that too many women are forced abroad due to lack of legal clarity.

We need clear and concise abortion rights and that is what the campaign is about. And the most recent polls have shown us that the majority of Irish people support the right to an abortion for a range of reasons and most of which will not be covered by XCase Legislation, so even after that legislation becomes law there will be still more to do.

But this is the start and having the courage to have the term abortion in the name of the campaign and as the website name, is taboo breaking and wonderful. I am happy to say I support the right to choose, the right to an abortion when needed for medical reasons, the right to an abortion for fatal foetal abnormalities and I am proud to say I am a member of the Abortion Rights Campaign.

Come join us as we work towards securing abortion rights which the majority of people in this country agree with.

http://www.abortionrightscampaign.ie/get-involved/join-the-campaign/

Rape, Abortion and Emergency Contraceptives

Last month a poll was released via the Sunday times which showed that 74% of those who took part stated that if a person is pregant from rape they should the right to an abortion, that is an abortion here in Ireland.

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And then we had the interview of Micheál Martin leader of Fine Fáil by http://www.thejournal.ie/ in which he states;

He also said that he would not favour widening legislation or changing the Constitution to include cases where a woman has become pregnant as a result of rape.

“Rape is a particularly difficult one. We do have options today that we didn’t have before in terms of the morning after pill and so forth,” he said.

Which says to me just how disconnected he and his party are on the reality of this issue.

With X Case legislation still not even a published bill after 21 years,
and with all the scaremongering about ‘floodgates’ and women lying about being suicidal to obtain an abortion, I would fear as to what would be said if we were currently trying to legislate for the right to an abortion if a person has been raped.

Would women be told well prove you were raped and to wait for their rapist to be prosecuted, when currently from when a person is charged with rape it could be 18months before the first day in court. I worry that there is a vested interest in trying to make any abortion legislation to be a series of hoops to hard to navigate and so well will continue to have 12 women a day traveling to the U.K.

The comments also show up the ignorance about the ‘morning after pill’ which I really wish we could stop calling it that as the new ones can be taken up to 120 hours later, time to start calling it emergency contraceptive, but even then it is not 100%.

Even if a person reports the rape and sees a dr with in 72 hours or even 120 hours emergency contraceptives are not 100% effective and they can still end up pregnant from that rape.

Which assumes they can get to see a medical professional who will prescribe it, that they can take it as there are women from whom it won’t be prescribed due to medical conditions and there is a barrier due to cost or having to travel or child care, or they could be in an abusive relationship were it’s just not possible for them to get away.

And that is with out going into those who go into shock and denial after they have been raped.

So the existence of emergency contraceptives does not solve the issue of people becoming pregnant after they have been raped.

I guess after all this time I am still staggered by the lack of knowledge out there about Emergency Contraceptives & contraceptives in general. I honestly think that our TDs should know better then the lack of knowledge Micheál Martin has displayed.

Another XCase Date, 21 years on and still no legislation.

http://www.thejournal.ie/twenty-years-on-a-timeline-of-the-x-case-347359-Feb2012/

6 February 1992: X and her parents traveled to England and arrangements were made for an abortion to take place in London. On the same date, the Attorney General obtained an interim injunction stopping the teenager and her parents from leaving the country or arranging the termination of the pregnancy. Once they were informed of the injunction the family returned to Ireland.

The AG’s order was based on Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, more specifically on the 1983 amendment that puts the right of the unborn child’s right to life on an equal footing of the mother’s right to life.

Whelen has since said that he had no choice but to seek the injunction as he had a duty to uphold the Constitution. He told an RTÉ documentary that his problem was “stark” after being contacted by the DPP.

This weeks has been filled so far with the abuses of women and children by the state and the church, be it children in industrial schools, children abused by priests, children put up for adoption who can not never find out their parent’s names, women put into laundries and used as slave labour or women driven abroad to have children and to have them adopted.

We have had 90 year of being our own country and honestly it seems to be little more then a litany of abusing and ignoring those who need compassion and care.

We still have people who are being mistreated in asylum holding places, old people’s homes, children’s care homes, and those in care due to disabilities.

In all my born days, despite the struggles watching the Dáil proceedings today, for the first time I find myself wanting to live in a different country.

Got any stories about those awful fetus feet pins?

I first saw them back in 1992 but they were in use as propaganda tools from 1979.

An exhibition about them and the type of progaganda the ‘pro life’ side has used over the years is going to take place shortly in he Copper House Gallery and they are still looking for contributions.

I’ve sent mine in, we do need a way to record our stories and to share them and this is a wonderful way to do so and ‘Make good art”.

http://www.10weeks.org/10-weeks-exhibition/

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We’re looking for help to publicise two pro choice exhibitions please & help us collect stories and responses.

The written responses will be showcased within the exhibition and archived on this website whilst the recorded vocal responses will be accessible during the exhibition and on this website archive afterwards.

The written responses will be showcased within the exhibition and archived on this website whilst the recorded vocal responses will be accessible during the exhibition and on this website archive afterwards.

http://www.10weeks.org/10-weeks-exhibition/

The X Case: 21 years ago, 2 referendums, 1 supreme court ruling still no Law.

Last year the Journal.ie did a timeline of the events surrounding the X Case you can find it here: http://www.thejournal.ie/twenty-years-on-a-timeline-of-the-x-case-347359-Feb2012/

Today is the 4th of February 2013, here is what happened 21 years ago:

4 February 1992: The victim and her parents decide to travel to the UK to undergo an abortion. The family informed the Gardaí of their decision and asked whether the foetus could be tested after it was aborted to provide proof of the paternity of the accused in the rape case.

The Gardaí then asked the Director of Public Prosecutions whether such evidence would be admissible in court. The DPP liaised with the Attorney General Harry Whelehan.

The parents of the 14 year old child, were talking her to the UK for the good of her health and life and were trying to make sure the man who had raped her would not go unpunished.

That was 21 years ago and we have had 2 referendums and 1 Supreme court ruling and X Case has not been legislated for and there is still no law.

The current government have legislating for X in their program for government but again we are seeing more delay tactics.

Cabinet update on abortion law delayed | Irish Examiner.

Dr Reilly has said he hopes the measures will become law by July.

Women in Ireland are breaking the law to have medical abortions

Seizures of the abortion pill have been on going for the last 4 years in this country and women are ordering the medications and using them to end their pregnancies at home.

In doing this they face criminal charges for importing the medication with out a license and the charge of self preforming an abortion and that under the 1861 Offenses against the Person Act can carry a sentence of a life time in prison.

Claire ordered drugs online and had an abortion at home. This is her story… | Irish Examiner.

Her abortion will never appear on a list of official figures, but she does exist, it did happen and her story deserves to be told.

I get pretty concerned about this, I know that the abortion pill works well and a woman will haven an induced miscarriage over 1 to 3 days and it only works in the first 9 weeks of pregnancy but it still has risks and should only be taken and used with medical supervision which women in Ireland are not getting and if anything goes wrong it is difficult for women to get medical help.

Still this piece is brave and taboo breaking and it is wonderful to see that we are starting to hear the real stories of women, the choices they making and the risks they are having to take in a country which holds an embryo has the same rights as we do.

My Abortion Activism

My abortion activism goes back about two decades at this stage, I used to write the Women’s Information Network’s illegal abortion information phone number 01 6794700 on the blackboards of the 6th year classrooms early in the mornings before anyone else was in.

Needless to say this caused uproar in the convent school I attended: when teachers and the head nun had an inkling it was me I was told to present myself at the office when I arrived each morning. They were going to use the absence of the number to prove it was me and someone else started chalking it on the black boards and it started to appear on the cubicle walls in the toilets in the school.

This was back before the 1992 referendum which made information related to abortion legal. I grew up in an Ireland were magazines were censored and so were UK phone books all over the country, long before it was possible to look up information on the internet. I have been pro choice having seen what family members went through in an Ireland which didn’t talk about miscarriage and treated unmarried mothers badly.

Even after the 1992 while information wasn’t censored, only drs and counselors were to give information to women who were looking for it and that is still the case to day. Before anyone could google B.P.A.S. and get information giving information verbally or a booklet or a photocopy could get you into legal hot water.

When I went to college I got even more involved in pro choice activism, I continued to act as an information point for women*. I had gotten my hands on a bunch of booklets “Traveling to Liverpool: a guide for Irish women” which were produced in 1994 and some activist training and would use them to help women, from teenagers to women in their 40s who didn’t know were to go, were too far away from the I.F.P.A. clinics and so would try their luck with the local college.

This was often a risky adventure, there were those in the college esp the college nurse who opposed me doing this, she was involved with the local Cura Branch and I had heard of other people who were giving out information that they would try and record me. If I wasn’t sure I would arrange to meet people and then accidentally leave behind pages with info on them after saying I could not help.

I also traveled with women over the years and if I didn’t travel with them checked in with them after wards, to make sure they took it easy, so many students who lived away from home during the week would travel and come back to digs or rented house and needed someone to make them tea and listen.

I remember the name of every person I helped back then and when they traveled and some for years later I would get a card or mostly an email to the address I had back then to say thank you or just to have someone who knew to communicate with. So many women edit out that time in their life from their narrative. They box it off don’t think about it, don’t talk about it ever, to anyone and go on to have partners and start families and it’s never mentioned. Not even when dealing with medical professionals in maternity hospitals.

Even after college it didn’t stop, I left an email address with certain people and they would refer people on but soon it was possible to search for information on the internet, but I still ended up being a point of contact and information and the same when I got involved in online communities, way before even bebo. Even in those places when I would talk about the topic in general women would contact me privately to share their stories.

My abortion activism has always been part of my sex education, contraception and Choice activism. I have passed on information on adoption and supports for being a single parent as well over the years but when there were so few places to get abortion information and support most of my first contact encounters over the year have been about abortion.

So many women over the years have shared their stories with me, easily close to 100,
but they would only be `not even .1 % of the 150,000 Irish women we have stats on who have traveled to the UK.

These days there is more information and support but hopefully the day will come when we don’t have to travel.

* I use the term women in my post not to be exclusionary, but as I have not yet knowingly had a transman talk to me about their story or approach me for information.

Helpful links if you need them.

www.ifpa.ie
www.positiveoptions.ie
www.bpas.ie
www.mariestopes.org.uk
www.abortionsupport.org.uk