See you there.
Yes this post is entitled:
Thank you Pope Francis & the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church for your part in #repealthe8th.
Let me explain why.
See the thing is, the Roman Catholic Church last year changed its policy in relation to excommunication in relation to abortions. It used to be if you had an abortion or helped someone have one, you were automatically excommunicated, & need to see a bishop to reconcile with the Church.
In 2016 the RC Church had a year of extraordinary mercy, and down grade the level of sin, so you could see your local parish priest to be reconciled. So many people, mostly women did this, that they down graded abortion & helping in any way (money, info ect) to a matter for your parish priest permanently.
Which means having an abortions or being complicit in someone else having one, became the same level as ordinary Sin. This was a huge shift in attitudes which is rarely spoken about.
It made it easier for many mass attending Catholics, to #VoteYes. I have devote Catholics in my life, the conversations around this have been fascinating.
And when the year was done the RC Pope (he is one of 3 popes) extended the terms permanently.
So your parish priest who’d you’d confess all your everyday sins to, could absolve you from your sin of abortion and reconcile you to the church. I am not Roman Catholic, but I know women who are, who use contraception, who have had abortions and this brought them ease and comfort.
I genuinely believe this helped us #repealthe8th, but I never saw it covered in our media, esp by religious correspondents, even when it happened, and it’s a seismic change.
Knowing this I had zero concerns in taking part in performances of The Renunciation.
The Refrain in it was “People of Ireland, lift up your voices. We are all worthy of our right to choose”. And we did.
So thank you Pope Francis & the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church for your part in #repealthe8th.
But honestly @Pontifex you are still wrong when it comes to LGB people & esp Trans people, protecting pedophiles, protecting abusers, wanting control of schools & hospitals & failing to make reparations. Maybe sort that before visiting.
I’ve been rather sick the last week or so, I even lost my voice!
But now that it is back I am going to record pretty much the speech which I have been giving all around the country for the last few years.
Hello from Wexford, I was in invited down by Wexford Together for Yes to be a speaker at their meeting last night in the River Bank Hotel.
It was a great meeting with a lot of discussion, questions and people sharing their stories. I was one of three speakers, and was joined by Siona Cahill Vice President of USI and Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty Ireland. It was my first time on a panel with Colm and it was lovely to be in his home county with him.
Why do we have the 8th Amendment?
Because from 1935 to 1978 contraception was illegal in Ireland. Contraception was legal at the founding of our State but in 1935 given the rise in the importation of contraception (mostly condoms) the then Taoiseach after consultation with the Bishop changed the law so that the importation and sale of contraception was illegal.
This remained the case until 1973 when a lady name May McGee took a high court case and won the right to contraception on the grounds of privacy in marriage, but it took 5 years before legislation was passed and enacted.
The fact contraception was made legal on the grounds of privacy caused a hell of a stir as it was on those grounds in the USA that abortion was made legal. And so the conservative forces set about working to get something in constitutional law which would forbid abortion.
And here we are 35 years later working to undo that, so that we may have compassionate healthcare here in Ireland.
24 days to go. Keep having the chats, the discussions. They are what is important. I had a lady ask me as I boarded the Wexford bus yesterday where did I get my badge as she hadn’t had a chance to get one yet. I gave her mine.
She asked was I sure and I told her no bother I would get another one at the meeting in Wexford town, she said she couldnt make that one cos of her kids, but would be making the fundraiser in a few days in Gormanstown. Talk to as many people as you can.
And if you have questions I can help with give me a shout, either via twitter @janetos_ or email email@example.com
Again thank you to those who donated to my go fundme for making all this possible.
Next stop for me is Dundalk on Wednesday the 2nd of May in the Táin arts centre at 7pm, Hope to see more of you there.
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.
I Vlogged again.
Some of the questions I got from people in the bar after the launch of Roscommon for Yes were about Abortion as Contraception, ‘Unrestricted’ Abortion at 12 weeks and
Drs opting out.
Abortion as Contraception:
We know from the stat which Bpas clinics keep and report to the NHS that the majority of people who have an abortion in the UK, were using contraception when they became unintentionally pregnant.
Also after having an abortion the same as after a miscarriage or giving birth you can not have sex for 6 weeks. I guess this is not a well known fact as people haven’t tended to talk about abortion.
Also with the plans for free contraception for anyone who needs if a person accesses abortion care they will be informed of this, and when in other countries made abortion legal and they have had free contraception, the abortion rate dropped, this is what we need in Ireland, this is part of the plans Minister Simon Harris has proposed as this is what the Joint Committee recommended.
Drs Opting Out:
Drs already can opt out of prescribing contraception and the morning after pill, it is called the Conscientious Objection clause. This will also apply to abortion services.
‘Unrestricted’ Abortion at 12 weeks:
Well this one is simply not true. What the Joint Committee recommended and what is being put forward after we Remove the 8th Amendment, is 12 weeks ‘unrestricted to reason’ which means what ever reas on a person has for wanting to end a pregnancy that is reason enough.
There are restrictions, there is a proposed 72 hour, 3 days waiting period, there are medical restrictions, not just what the pregnancy has to be under 12 weeks of pregnancy (10 weeks fetal gestation), that is is carried out in line with best medical practice and that it is the right type procedure for the pregnant person. As Safe as the abortion pills are they are not suitable for everyone.
There are legal restrictions too, abortions will only be lawful in the first 12 weeks if a person goes to their dr or a family planning clinic or hospital and it is carries out in line with and under the restrictions of HSE policy. Ordering abortion pills from online places will still be illegal, carrying out back street abortions will still be legal.
Abortions after 12 weeks and before 24 weeks (6 months which is the limit of viability) will be even further restricted, it will only be in the cases of Fatal Fetal Abnormalities, and when there is a serious risk to the pregnant person’s Health. Even then it will take two drs to make the assessment.
So tomorrow I am off to Maynooth to MC the Maynooth Together for Yes fundraiser gig in the Duke and Coachman. Then on to Galway and then Kilkenny.
I will keep updating as I go, if you have questions you’d like me tackle please get in touch, leave a comment, or email me or, get in touch on twitter.
Again Thank You to those who Donated to my GofundeMe and made this possible.
Putting a human face on abortion makes all the difference
Graphic posters should be countered by equally powerful images of women who’ve had abortions but are rarely seen or heard.
“Rarely seen or heard..”
Except for this 2013 award winning video by the Irish Family Planning association.
Except for the X-ile Project.
X-ile project is an ongoing online gallery of people who have accessed abortion services outside of Ireland and Northern Ireland. We welcome participation by trans men, non binary people and anyone who can be pregnant. Our objective is to give a much-needed face to those have effectively been exiled and ignored due to unduly restrictive and oppressive abortion laws. Our gallery demonstrates that those who choose to travel to have an abortion are responsible, ordinary people and are members of our communities. X-ile Project is changing the nature of conversations about abortion from the grassroots up. We believe that abortion and reproductive rights and the corresponding discussions should be led by those affected, not by politicians.
In recent times several women have come forward through various media outlets to share their abortion stories. X-ile Project builds on that important work by strengthening links between those who have travelled for abortion services. Our website launched on 10 December 2015 with our first group of 11 photographs. Our second group of photographs was launched on 23 February 2016. The third group of photographs was launched on 9 June 2016. Our gallery was increased to 50 photographs on 12 May 2017 following our #facethe50 campaign.
Except for those involved in Parents for Choice,
Except for those involved with The Abortion Rights Campaign
Except for the members of Terminations for Medical Reasons
And yet abortion and TFMR are medical matters and a person’s medical history is always private, yet plenty of people have come forward to waive that privacy to talk about their experiences and break the social stimga and taboo.
We shouldn’t have to be on posters, this is about our human rights, it is about compassion health care here in Ireland.
There were not posters of LGBT people up for the Marriage Equality, there should not be pictures of those who have had an abortion, we only but up images of people we are voting for in elections as we need to know who they are so we can judge their track record.
No one who needs to access or has accessed abortion care, needs to be judged like that, that only leads for more stigma. more unkind assumptions. People need access to free safe and legal abortion here in Ireland, no matter what they look like or no matter what their personal history or circumstances are.
Anyone who says that people have not been coming forward, needs to look around a bit more, say maybe at what else is being published in the very paper their opinion has appeared in.
A lil bit about #repealthe8th not just being a woman’s issue.
Now more then ever I am glad I spoke up & worked to ensure that the Abortion Rights Campaign is trans/non binary and gender fliud inclusive . I helped write this in 2015
We live in a post gender recognition Ireland, I always mention this when speaking at events. It has even caused my opponents to edit their language & acknowledge this. This happened with Mrs Caroline Simmons of the Pro Life Campaign when we were speaker at a debate in NUIG.
I have been very, very fortunate to have people in my life who happen to be trans, who took the time to talk to me. To explain & at times correct me when I assumed or screwed up. I sure as hell don’t always get it right, I try. I know I fecked up already this year and me being not sober & it being 3am didn’t excuse it.
I have always tried to include non cis people when I talk about reproductive rights, because its the least I can do, to maybe make the world a lil less tough.
A while ago family member came out to me as not cis. They were figuring things out, they had professional help, I was the first family member they told. I was honoured
Recently they have come out to friends and family as being a bloke. I am so happy for him. He can get on with living his life as his real self.
I am very aware the the 8th still effects him, same as it does me, but accessing healthcare for him, especially if he should need to travel will be a bit more complicated. I still love him dearly that was never going to change, & he’s thanked me for being as inclusive as i have been & how some of the conversation I have had with extended family help him.
Being inclusive was always important to me, but now more then ever I am grateful for all the times I have said pregnant person or people who can become pregnant. And I am going to keep saying it, because it is important, esp when all of the mainstream messaging is currently women & girls.
The wonderful the Abortion Support Network https://www.asn.org.uk/is trans inclusive & supportive, they only care if a person needs help & if they can help them
At the #Marches4choice @freesafelegal have had trans people speaking, @freesafelegal also worked with @TENI_Tweets when formulating how to talk about abortion & not be utterly woman centric.
Yes the Abortion Rights Campaign got abuse from some ‘feminists’ for doing so, I have gotten it too, but now more then ever I am glad to be a ‘bad’ feminist saying pregnant people, cos now it’s close to home & family.
I don’t know of we will see any main stream campaign messages re non cis people, but I still support ye and wont stop saying pregnant people. We work to ensure we have enough Yes Votes on the 25th of May so that we Repeal the 8th Amendment for everyone so we can all access the healthcare we need.
I hopped on the bus down to Strokestown for the launch of Roscommon Together For Yes, it’s one I have done a few times to Strokestown it’s not even a 3 hour trip which is always nice to sit and read and relax for.
I was still invited down to attend the launch and to meet the members of Roscommon Together For Yes, who had been Ros for Choice part of the Abortion Rights Campaign region groups before they re branded for the referendum.
I meet up with them in the bar of the Percy French Hotel were the event was on later. We chatted about posters, the campaign, how they hoped the launch would mean more people would sign up to canvass, about when posters would be up and the add they placed in the local paper about the event. They were delighted to find out I have been a frequent visitor to Strokestown.
Last night the room was packed out with people tipping over the boarder to attend. It like all the extra mentions in national papers helped. Thanks John. pic.twitter.com/wqt4ZQYH9J
— Janet Ní Shúilleabháin (@JanetOS_) April 21, 2018
There were exhibitions in the room as well, one was this amazing display of 20 shoes, one for every person we know traveled to the UK to have an abortion in 2016.
— Janet Ní Shúilleabháin (@JanetOS_) April 20, 2018
And the amazing http://everydaystories.org/
Which was set up by an amazing Rocommon native who also founded Voices for Choice Choir.
— Janet Ní Shúilleabháin (@JanetOS_) April 20, 2018
Everyday stories is an exhibition which is currently traveling and if any group wants to host it please get in touch with them. There is also a discussion workshop which can be sent out to people to run.
- Any groups or individuals may host an event. Workshops have been held in cafés, pubs and living rooms – whatever space you feel comfortable in.
- A phone + internet / mp3 player is required to play the audio. A speaker is recommended if your group is larger than 4 people.
Please get in touch if you would like to host an event.
The speakers at the Roscommon Together For Yes were wonderful.
Our fantastic speakers: Minister @josephamadigan, @mummakeupbag of @TFMRIRE l, @NursepollyRgn of @Midwives4Choice and @DrMarkMurphy of @Doctors4Choice #Roscommon4Yes #Together4Yes pic.twitter.com/GWEMFepsvC
— Roscommon Together for Yes (@RosForChoice) April 20, 2018
The Minsters Speech was powerful, I still get very moved when TDs and Minsters speak about the Harm the 8th Amendment causes and how we need to remove it for compassionate healthcare here in Ireland. It is so wonderful that so many of them are on board and echoing what we have been saying for the last 6 or so years.
Nurse Polly spoke about how she can not do her job and how legally there are things which she can do to a pregnant person while they are giving birth with out their consent that in any other context would be assault and how this has to change and how she wants to be able to care for all her patients.
Tracey from Terminations for Medical Reasons spoke about being are parent with 3 children already who had deal with a fourth pregnancy which ended tragically after a diagnosis of a Fatal Featal abnormality. How she and her husband had thought naively after the diagnosis was confirmed that she would be induced here at home.
Instead she has to take on trying to get an appointment in Liverpool women’s hospital and make all the travel arrangements which took weeks, all the while people were asking the types of questions they do, about when are you due, are you hoping for a boy or a girl, are your other kids excited to get a new baby.
She spoke of the compassion, dignity and care she experienced there and how that was lacking here due to the 8th amendment.
The we hear from Dr Mark Murphy who explained what a medical abortion with pills is like, how drs and all medical staff will be able to opt out of providing abortion services same as they do with contraceptive services using the conscience clause.
That no form of contraceptive is 100% and even when people are doing all they should do, unplanned pregnancies can still happen, drs deal with this everyday and most of the people who have an abortion are already parents.
The Roscommon Together For Yes were amazing and live tweeted the meeting you can read it on thier account if you want to know more. https://twitter.com/RosForChoice
— Janet Ní Shúilleabháin (@JanetOS_) April 21, 2018
I want to give a special thanks to Nurse Polly stepped up to be a speaker at the launch when I had to step down. I have no doubt we will be sharing a platform soon at other meetings around the country.
The Welcome I got in Roscommon was wonderful and if there is time over the next 5 weeks I will absolutely be back, maybe to do something in the north of the county.
— Janet Ní Shúilleabháin (@JanetOS_) April 20, 2018
Again thanks to all those who supported my gofundme which made this possible.
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.
Thank you to those who donated to my Fundme who made this trip and blog post possible.