On Saturday the 2nd of July, I will be attending the annual all Ireland rally for life in Dublin. Only this will not be the first time I will be attending the march. I attended the same event over ten years ago – at the pro-choice counter rally. Yes, like many people (mostly politicians) in this country, I too have “evolved” on this issue. I have gone on a journey also – only in reverse in comparison to everyone else.
Now to be clear, while I do regret campaigning for abortion, I cannot say I regret voting to repeal the 8th amendment. The constitution is not the place to deal with the issue of pregnancy or maternal care. It does need guidelines and a legal framework for medical professionals. In a world of cheap air travel and abortion pills, the 8th amendment was becoming redundant to what it was inserted for – to prevent the abortion of unborn Irish babies. Not to mention that it affected the care that women who did want their babies received. This should not be a legal football but a matter of conscience and truth.
As I’ve already written in other articles for this website, I was a staunch progressive in my formative years. That slowly began to change around my mid-twenties. One by one, the tenets of my leftist ideology began to fall like dominoes. Socialism, gay marriage/parenting, feminism, antipathy towards religion/traditional values. But even as I grew more conservative, the issue of abortion was the hardest Rubicon to cross.
This was probably because I had become so entrenched in my beliefs. I had attended pro – choice rallies, protested outside rogue pregnancy clinics, made pro – choice videos on YouTube and spoke openly about the issue, even to people in my conservative hometown in Tipperary. Once again, I saw it as a form of rebellion against my strict, Catholic surroundings. I still remember watching videos that showed aborted foetuses in fifth year religion class as part of a discussion on the topic. But so consumed with resentment and annoyance I just dismissed these distressing images as being irrelevant to the rights of a young girl/woman like me.
As a working-class woman, I clung to the fear that the pro-choice movement spouted. That if I made a mistake or had the misfortune of being raped, I would become pregnant. Be forced to either carry the pregnancy to term or scrape together the money to go abroad for a termination. My life would be over. That I didn’t have control over my own body in my own country. As a feminist, being pro – choice was an integral part of smashing the patriarchy.
So, imagine my horror when I came across groups such as Feminists for Life and New Wave Feminists. There was actually a feminist argument against abortion?! I began to read about first wave feminists (aka the suffragettes) such as Alice Paul, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These were women who had a much tougher time than I ever would. Disenfranchised, imprisoned, force fed, impoverished. Yet, they believed that abortion was the ultimate exploitation of women and that the only people it really liberated was irresponsible, dishonourable, and evil men who wanted to get rid of the evidence of their sins – rape, adultery, and promiscuity.
As much as I wanted to push back against admitting I had been wrong for so many years, the facts began to speak for themselves. That the abortion lobby on both sides of the Atlantic had roots in racism, eugenics, and population control through Margaret Sanger in Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes in Marie Stopes International. This sinister genesis continues to this day with 80% of Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinics being within walking distance of minority neighbourhoods in the States. For me personally, it became untenable to dismiss Margaret Sanger as just one bigoted, mentally ill woman who didn’t speak for an entire movement.
Which brings me to this country. Isn’t it strange that after years of either ignoring the issue or pledging to keep abortion out of Ireland, the vast majority of politicians decided that a referendum should be held on the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution and that the abortion laws should be liberalised. Did these legislators really “evolve” after talking to women who had travelled abroad for an abortion?
Or was it something more cynical? Was the pressure from our new masters in the EU to change our laws getting too much to bear? Did the housing crisis precipitate the need to curtail our growing population? Maybe the powers that be decided that the best way to reduce public spending was to have less people who needed it come into the world? This may come across as shocking conjecture to some but not entirely implausible if the history of abortion teaches us anything.
Unlike feminists on the pro – choice side who have become more extreme, even campaigning for abortion right up to the day of birth for any reason, just the principle alone. Feminists on the pro life offer practical, holistic remedies to what is yes, a very tough decision. They are the ones who really want abortion to be rare through affordable childcare, anti – pregnancy laws, easier fostering/adoption, traditional values and holding men to account for THEIR actions.
For years, we’ve been fed this line that it’s the religious right who wanted to hide away society’s dirty little secrets. That may have been true but something more monstrous has truly taken over. Realizing that there’s money to be made from modern permissive attitudes to sex and relationships through contraceptives and abortion, providers such as PP and MSI are using young girls and women to line their own pockets. Inflicting violence on their bodies, telling them it’s safe and clean, when it’s not. Women have died from legal abortions too. Ignoring the dangers of a potential perforated uterus and the psychological damage done to women who end up regretting their decision.
The evil, elitist scions of Sanger and Stopes have found a better way of disposing of our burdens – they’re killing them in their mother’s wombs, incinerating them as medical waste or harvesting their organs, and pushing the woman out the door, leaving her to carry the guilt for the rest of her life. While the man gets off scot free. Now you tell me. What’s so empowering about that?