Tag Archives: reproduction

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












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.



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.

Facts about the Abortion Pills, Mifepristone and Misoprostol.

So during the week Prime Time on RTE covered the abortion pills, they ordered them online from Womenonweb.org and went up north to collect them.


New figures released to RTÉ Prime Time show the number of seizures of pills that can be used for abortions more than doubled during the first 10 months of this year.

The figures from the Health Products Regulatory Authority show there have been 60 seizures of over 1,000 tablets during 2014, up from 24 seizures last year.

The Master of the Rotunda Hospital in Ireland expressed concern about a website that is offering abortion pills online to Irish Women.


For a piece on our national broadcaster it was very scaremongering and did not furnish any facts about the pills. There is a big knowledge gap about them here in Ireland, they have been legal in France from 1988 and in the USA from 2000. They are prescribed only up to the first 9 weeks of a pregnancy.

So what are they?

The Abortion Pills are a set of pills, of two different types, Mifepristone and Misoprostol.

Mifepristone blocks the pregnancy hormones, they are only prescribed and dispensed in maternity hospitals and units around the country and are taken under direct supervision, a nurse will watch you take them.

Misoprostol are prescribed for a range of medical conditions and are known under several names Cytotec being one of the most common. Most Pharmacys stock them but they can not legally be prescribed to end a pregnancy. They cause the womb to contract and to eventually expell it’s contents. Misoprostol can be used on it’s own to end a pregnancy but the doses are greater and it’s not as efficient as using them with Mifepristone.

The way Misoprostol ends a pregnancy is an off book use or a side effect of the tablets as they were not created for that purpose and it was women in Brazil who discovered the side effect and started using them to end pregnancies back in the early 80s.

By 1988 the abortion pills were made legal in France. Any one wishing to end a pregnancy in the early stages is given the pills after seeing a nurse, midwife or Dr. The abortion pills became legal in Germany, Spain, Italy, Holland not long after and they became legal to use in the USA in 2000.

If Miss X back in 1992 had of lived in France she could have be given the pills.

If Miss Y had of been in the USA, France, Germany, Italy or Spain and discovered she was pregnant and did not want to be at 8 weeks she could have after counselling been administered the abortion pills.

The package of pills which Women on Web send to women are the same dose and make as those used by BPAS in the UK for abortion and Miscarriage management.

It has one Mifepristone  and 6 Misoprostol with directions on how and when to take them.

They are also used later in a pregnancy, when miscarriage is unavoidable to hasten the end of the pregnancy instead of forcing women to wait for untold hours until there is not fetal heartbeat or there is an immediate risk to the woman’s life. But due to the 8th amendment they can’t be administered for such purposes by drs here, this is untenable.

Suppression of information about the abortion pills is rife here due to people not wanting to fall foul of the 1995 abortion information law, but well I have broken that more times then I can possibly count on my blogs over the last 10 years.

Using the oral contraceptive pill correctly has a 1% rate of you becoming pregnant.

Using the abortion pills correctly has a 1% rate of you having complications.

Yes both the oral contraception pill and the abortion pills are not suitable for all women, but the overwhelming majority of women can use them.

There is an FAQ here if you have more questions: https://www.womenonweb.org/en/page/6904/medical-abortion

So what if you happen to be one of the 1% of women that has a complication?

Then you have to go to a hospital and women on web will say do not take the pills if you can not be with in 2 hours of an A&E. If you go to hospital after self administrating the abortion pills, there is no medical test which will show that you have taken them.

Your condition presents as complications during a miscarriage and is treated the exact same way, there is no different in treatment needed. No medical professional will be able to tell by examination or blood work that you have taken the pills.

If you disclose to any medical professional that you have taken them, the treatment will still be the same. Medical professionals are not required by law to inform the garda that you have admitted to a self administered abortion. If they do tell the garda the garda would have no evidence and your statement alone would not be enough to convict you.

If you need to have a scan to confirm that the pregnancy is ended then there are clinics like Femplus who have both crises pregnancy services and abortion after care check ups.


http://www.abortionaftercare.ie/urgent-medical-care also has a list of services but some are pro life so be careful.

My family is complete, I do not want any more children, if my contraception was to fail and I discovered I was pregnant I would use the abortion pills either via  Womenonweb.org or www.womenhelp.org and I would not hesitate to refer a loved one to them either.


The bottom line: Women who used RU-486 had no increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, preterm birth, or low-birth-weight babies when they eventually decided to have a baby.

“By now, probably more than 5 million women worldwide have had RU-486 abortions,” Zhang tells WebMD. “More than half of women seeking early abortion use this method. So this is a very significant finding about the safety of this treatment.”

Currently the Abortion Pills cost 90 euro plus the cost of a trip to to Belfast to collect them. This is significantly less then the 1,500 euro which is the average cos of having to travel to the UK for a surgical abortion.

People shouldn’t have to travel or risk the possibility of 14 years in jail, they should be able to see their dr and if it is suitable get the abortion pills to take here under medical supervision.

Still ordering from Women on web or Women Help and taking the pills with out supervision is still a hell of a lot more safe to do then trying to use a wire hanger or knitting needle to induce an abortion.

The abortion pills need to be Free and Legal and available here in Ireland for those who need them.

Who is most at risk due to ‘Care’ in our Maternity services?

We know that our maternity services are dangerously under staffed, we know there are no national polices for screening and there are other national policies which are also  lacking. It is not just a case of doctors differ and patients die, it is that depending on where you are in the country, the level of ‘Care’ and the consistency of ‘Care’ varies greatly, even in the same units but from week day to weekend.

But it varies even more so if you are woman who is from a minority in Ireland, this has been born out by the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre Severe Maternal Morbidity Report 2011

As Sinéad Redmond   a maternity rights activist and an AIMS Ireland committee member said

“This is a link to the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre Severe Maternal Morbidity Report 2011. Page 10 points out that maternal morbidity (severe maternal medical complications occurring during pregnancy, delivery and the post-natal period) occurred disproportionately among Traveller women and women of colour.

These women also die during pregnancy, delivery and the post-natal period in disproportionate amounts to their representation in the Irish population.

There appears to be no work in progress or completed (or suggested, that I’m aware of) to investigate the causes of this (institutional racism is of course an obvious one, as was apparent in the ‘care’ given to Bimbo Onanuga), and thus no attempts underway to tackle this. ” 

Bimbo Onanuga,

Dhara Kivlehan,

Nora Hyland,

Savita Halappanavar  

All of these women died in a 3 year period, while in the ‘Care’ of our ‘world class’ Maternity services. Their deaths have caused by medical mis adventure, or failure in basic care. I do not think they are the only ones, but these are 4 which we have heard about due to their loved ones insisting on an inquest and investigation.

Ireland is more diverse then it was 15 years ago, but it seems that institutional racism is happening in our health services. I had hoped that we would do better when it came to dealing with people of a range of backgrounds who are here to be part of our society and to raise to have their families.

Aims Ireland has been doing it’s best to point out where our maternity services falls short but it seems that again this is a story which the media is not interested in covering.


Survivors for Symphysiotomy address the UN #ICCPR

Yesterday I attended the Irish Council for Civil Liberties media green room for the appearance of Ireland in front of the United Nations Human Rights Committee.


In the room were a number of groups which had sent in submissions to the Human Rights committees and who had people over in Geneva. Atheist Ireland, Pavee point, Irish Traveler Movement, Irish Family Planning Association I was there to support the spokesperson for the Abortion Rights Campaign and to live tweet from the room.

And what a room it was I found myself talking to several ladies who were there with the Sourvivors for Symphysiotomy. They were easy to spot, ladies of a certain age, turn out smartly for the day, all walking with that slow waddling gait which denotes what the barbaric procedure of symphysiotomy did to their bodies and which they live with every day. They were polite, cheery, hopeful and most of all determined.


Over the course of the day, given where I was sitting several of the ladies asked were the toilets were, one of the issues they have to live with is that they have to make many trips to the loo, due to the damage done to their bodies. Given the room we were in the nearest toilets were either down stairs or a walk to the other side of the hotel. Both of which were a less then a 3 min stroll for me but for the survivors for symphysiotomy it is a much long trip. Also many of the survivors for symphysiotomy also can’t sit for very long due to the pain and constant discomfort they are in, most of them were not up to stay for the second half of the session.

As I was there to represent the Abortion Rights Campaign I was wearing my badge and when people were introducing themselves they said with org they were with. While I didn’t flinch I found myself worrying that some of the ladies would take it badly that I was there with ARC. But none of them turned a hair and a few of them were very supportive. It was lovely to chat with them, to have them say they are not giving up and we should not give up and to keep fighting; that for too long the Irish state and successive government have done wrong to generations of women in Ireland via the health services and lack there of.

I hope that these brave, brave women get the reparations and justice they are entitled to soon, before we loose more of them.







Voting Prochoice in your local Elections.

This is very hard to do it seems. Each county Council is meant to have a list online of candidates who are running and how to contact them. But from talking to friends, it’s spotty at best.

However as I have stated in my other blog it is easier for us to try and communicate with them and to pool resources with each other to ask the questions we think are important and that for me is who is ProChoice. If two candidates are weighing up for me equally this will be the decider, or may rule out someone who other wise I would vote for.

So here is a link to a list of all the candidates I could find who are running in the local elections and how to contact them.


Also that really well funded lobby group had the time and resources to get a bunch of local election candidates to sign thier pledge, so here’s the list of who not to vote for https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B954SdlrGC2lc1dQVkN0cmtLN2s/edit?usp=sharing

I will be doing a round up of the EU Candidates tomorrow.




Voting and why I do it.

I have mentioned before that I read this book around the same time I became a teenager.

It is the story of the fight for women’s suffrage in the USA. It made me aware of the countless hours women of many generations worked so hard for to get the right to vote some suffered horribly in vile prisons and some even died.

Women in Ireland did not have the Vote until 1928.
Yep 1928 which means we have not had the right to Vote yet for a 100 years.

Suffragettes including our most famous ones Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington seemed to think once women had the Vote the world would be radically changed as we would be then equal with men and able to change laws and make the world and the country a fairer place.

While I think if those brave ladies were to travel forward in time there are many things they would be pleased with but I do not think that the level social change and ‘equality’ would be something they would be happy with.

Women having the Vote did give us a certain amount of power but as we all know well now it was not the Pancea for all ills the suffragette had hoped it would be. But that does not mean it won’t be as we move forward and with the internet making it easier for us to communicate and collate information, making an informed choice and being informed on whom to vote for has gotten easier.

Every time I get a polling card with my name on it I think of the women who dedicated themselves in the fight to get women the right to Vote and didn’t live to get to Vote themselves. 86 years of having the Vote, I don’t think women have done enough with it. The old boy’s club is still very much the way things are in our houses of parliament. We deserve better.

I am refusing personally to vote for any candidate who is not pro choice to some extent. I will never give a preference to any candidate who considered women like me to have committed murder. I will never give a preference to a any candidate who does not see the need for a separation of church and state esp in our schools and health care system. I will never give a preference to any candidate who does not see the need for a comprehensive universal sex and sexuality education program in our schools.

I have had people ask me why bother, well that just means things stay the way they are. Often less then 55% of the people who are on the electoral roll turn out to vote and we have people who are eligible to vote who are not even registered to do so. If there is a low turn out in an area, which politicians can tell, due to the numbers being low then they don’t feel the need to work so hard on the issues being raised in those areas. You want to make a difference, get active, get informed and vote.
It is a lot easier to do so now, then it was when women first got the vote in 1928, it’s easier now then it was 50 years go even 20 years ago.

I Vote because I believe I have an honour and a duty to do so. I have never failed to do so in the last 21 years and I hope I never do.

May is the month of M…….

May is the month of Mental health awareness and Masturbation*.

NationalMasturbationMonth2 Mental-Health-Ribbon-148x150
The fact that both these causes are being celebrated in May makes me happy as I do believe that they are very much intertwined. Our brains are the biggest sex organs we have, it is not surprising then, that our mental health impacts on our sexual health and our sexual well being impacts on our mental and emotional well being.

I do believe that you the best way to learn to be a good lover is to start with yourself. That masturbation should be mentioned as part of sex and sexuality education. Often people’s sexual hang ups can start with themselves and how masturbation is spoken about or more often not spoken about.

The right to sex and sexuality eduction, contraception, information about safer sex and to not be stigmatized for our sexuality, are important and when we don’t have access to these or when our choices are not respected it has a negative impact.

Today also sees the a launch of the International Planned Parenthood Federation campaign to have such rights placed in part of the goals for 2020.

“We want a world where all women, men and young people have access to the sexual and reproductive health information and services they need; a world in which sexuality is recognised both as a natural and precious aspect of life and as a fundamental right; a world in which choices are fully respected, and where stigma and discrimination have no place. This vision must be realised within a context of sustainable development that seeks to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” said the IPPF, a global network of 152 member associations working in more than 170 countries.

This is also a big issue for those of us who are Queer, LGBT and those who are asexual. When people expect others to live in a certain way or conform and the mainstream narrative and services do not include us it causes stress. Finding counselors, drs, therapists who are alt/queer friendly with whom you can go see and not have to educate them is difficult.

Loving yourself means accepting yourself and finding joy in who you are, be it in self pleasure or sexual expression. I honestly do think that if more people were having daily orgasms they and the world would be in better shape.

Knowledge is power, and we dis empower people when we deny who they are and deny them information, education and access to the services they need.

The Slogan the IPPF are using the slogan “I Decide” which is all about empowerment, to call for sexual and reproductive health and rights to be adopted by the UN and are asking for us all to sign their petition to make it happen. http://www.ippf.org/vision2020 I have signed it I hope you will too.

Wether you do it before or after some stress relieving self loving is up to yourself.

*Yes the title of the blog post was totally intentional, how many of ye ended up with that hymn in your head? “May is the month of Mary, month we all love so well….” how to spot those of a a certain generation who had an irish catholic education. You may confess in the comments 🙂