Sunday, 27 May 2018

Historic Victory For Irish Women.

Dublin. Saturday, 26 May 2018: Thousands of Irish women cheer the announcement that a nationwide referendum has produced a decisive 66.4 percent vote in favour of repealing the constitutional prohibition against abortion in Ireland.

TRUST THE IRISH to tell a good story. Fifty years from now the young women who gathered in their thousands outside Dublin Castle to cheer the stunning result of the “Repeal the Eighth Amendment Referendum” will have a wonderful tale to tell their grand-daughters. Not only was the result wonderful – 66.4 percent voted in favour of removing what was in effect a constitutional ban on abortion in Ireland – but so too was the way it was won.

As the polls showed a tightening of the gap between the “Yes” and “No” camps, the call went out to Irish women and men scattered across the globe to come home and vote for change. And come home they did. Ireland’s wild geese flocked home in their thousands. The distinctive black “Repeal” T-shirts of the Yes Campaign could be seen at airports and ferry terminals across Ireland. Irish women from as far away as Canada and Australia made the journey to rescue Ireland from the reactionary grip of a Catholic Church which, in the wake of child abuse revelations spanning 20 years, has lost all moral authority.

As the results of the referendum came in, it was clear that something politically and culturally profound has been taking place in the country once written off as a hopelessly conservative, priest-ridden culture still languishing in the dark politics of the Republic of Ireland’s violent birth. Only in County Donegal did the No Campaign prevail – and only by a single percentage point. Throughout the rest of Ireland, most noticeably in Dublin and the larger cities, but also in the rural counties and provincial towns, clear and decisive votes were cast for repeal.

The patient and respectful campaigning of a coalition of moderate and radical women’s groups had done its work. Not even the presence of “Pro-Life” campaigners shipped in from the United States could withstand the clear and incontrovertible evidence of the costs: physical, psychological and economic; of the legal denial of Irish women’s right to exercise control over their own bodies.

By the end of the year the two political parties commanding a majority in the Irish parliament are pledged to introduce and pass reform legislation that will propel Ireland well ahead of New Zealand on abortion rights.

It’s a grand tale which will, no doubt, grow grander in the telling. How the women of Ireland and their upright brothers brought home the Goddess to Erin’s green isle.

This essay is exclusive to Bowalley Road.

14 comments:

Polly. said...

Good riddance.
The Catholic Churches policies have been a blight on the Irish people.
The next blight to be removed within the Catholic Church is that Priests cannot marry.
It will happen, when?.
When the Catholic brethren get a say.
The Pope, the brethren can save,strengthen Christianity against that blight.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

It's not only more advanced than New Zealand, but a lot more advanced than Northern Ireland. So we're going to see the irony of women going south for an abortion now instead of over to England. Because Northern Ireland isn't about to budge while Theresa May needs their religious fundamentalists to shore up her government.

David Stone said...

What a subject to tackle! Abortion! Dare I ?
The first example I knew of was a girl a few years older than me .Daughter of a man who worked for my father. She did it herself with a spoon and died of septicaemia. That wasn't the right result. Proper medical assistance must be available. But it is not an issue to be taken without careful consideration. It isn't simply " something that women do with their bodies" . It is something they have someone else do to the body of an embryo that might have become their child. It's very well to seek to obfuscate this, but no-one who has considered having an abortion and decided against it looks back and wishes they had done it. It becomes unthinkable. And the women I have known who have had abortions in their youth seem to me all to have been troubled by it for the rest of their lives. It isn't society that suffers , it's the people directly involved, principally the would be mother. Not the featus either, plenty of accidents occur naturally. They are often troubling to the mother too.
So I would not argue for the sanctity of the life of a few developing cells, but I do argue for a truthful appraisal of what she is taking on for a pregnant woman. And I would argue for much better support for her from society if her partner turns out to be a dud.
Brave wasn't I
D J S

greywarbler said...

David S
Yes brave.
The problem is that whatever is done, abortion or keeping the child, there are regrets. It is an irreversible trauma to the body and mind. Once baby and mother have bonded it is likely that the mothr can not bear to think of losing the child. That seems a very natural reaction seen in animals and humans. Looking at youtube recently a sad, woebegone face of a sea otter was shown. Killer whales had her baby and were after her.
She was torn between wanting to be safe and also to swim around and find her baby. She sought sanctuary on a small boat nearby and kept watch, eventually being escorted back to the shallows by the boat where she swam around uttering little cries calling her baby.

That was natural life at work. With humans too, we attack mothers and young babies - it is not all respect and sweetness and light for mothers.
Harm can come to a woman who steps out of the prescribed line. Sometimes it is a matter of choosing the outcome that enables the pregnant woman to maintain a job, her place in her family, even preventing a terrible split if she has fallen to a brother, father, uncle, cousin. The pain of decision isn't simply what is regarded as right by societal mores, it's multi-dimensional.

And I liked the bit at the end David S. Let's embrace the mother if she has the baby, give her gifts like they do in one Scandinavian society.
Let's embrace all mothers and not throw them out of hospital on the day of birth, or next. Give them time to recover, let them relax and the baby start drinking with the pair relaxed and at peace. She probably won't get much peace at home trying to catch up with home duties and family. Treat women with affection and respect, not like human cows or society's production-line servants being put out of the birthing pen to get on with their duties. Let the woman have options, and look after her whatever she chooses.

David Stone said...

@ GW
Foolhardy perhaps, but cheers for the support.
I don't think the cow feels any different from the otter. Life is full of pain. more for some than for others. I have been incredibly lucky but no living thing wants to give it up save in moments of depression.
There are certainly circumstances as you identify where termination is probably the less traumatic option. But my wish would be that the whole picture is faced by the person most effected.And then her decision is supported emotionally and practically.
Cheers D J S

greywarbler said...

Just a little story in the news about the vulnerable pregnant woman having less than optimum care. The emotional reactions and false pride of some midwives against the sometimes over-medicalised birthing process that some doctors may choose has resulted in some distress for mothers over the years and this is another in the saga.
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12060221

NickJ said...

Whilst I am delighted with the Irish referendum result I get a nagging feeling that there will be unintended consequences. For example when the Domestic Purposes Benefit legislation was introduced and passed much of the justification was concerned with making it possible for women and children in abusive relationships to leave. On that basis alone it has been a success, yet the criticism was raised at the time, and has also proven accurate that it would result in numbers of unmarried mothers as a life option. How serious this scenario is I don't know, and there are so many alternate ways of looking at the issue, no one size fits all.

So to the unintended consequences: I think that this vote encapsulates a world view of freedom of choice, but one that does also entails freedom from responsibility for consequences. To be free of responsibility is a recipe for future disaster as consequences have a way of expressing themselves. How the Irish parliament reconcile these consequences in their legislation will be instructive.

greywarbler said...

True David S
Good thinking there with kindness and practicality, my beliefs for creating a good life. If the woman can keep the baby without being devastated by reactions and neglect by society, good. She might be able to adopt it to fully certified people, two is best and even a whole family support.
She might decide it must be stopped, and have it terminated. The memory and thought about the baby will remain for ever, no matter what decision she has made.

And grief is strange. I don't remember my father who went to war when I was just a toddler but as I get older I grieve for this man I never knew.
I have a few of his letters which give me a window to his personality, his soul, and information and memories of his mother, my grandmother, and his siblings. So as you say there will always be some grief, but with a pregnant woman the responsibility on her to help the child have limited grief is large, and she will be aware of how large, more than any onlooker.

NickJ said...

Grey, you are so right in embracing the mother and baby. I go on about equality of opportunity for all, and it starts at birth. And it should continue until the child becomes the master / mistress of their own destiny. Its not just respect, it is a measure of how civil (as opposed to civilized) we are as a society.

I recall being a young father one of the most demanding times of my life, I had new responsibilities for being father, caregiver, support staff, emotional support person, cook, bottle washer, mortgage payer, income generation unit, at the start of a corporate career in a very competitive environment. The path was bloody tough, but was an easier path than my lady, mothers need total support.

That support has highly important consequences, the "output" is well adjusted next generation citizens, there is a lot at stake.

Geoff Fischer said...

The right to abortion is a central plank of liberal politics and it is not surprising that it should be endorsed by the great majority of voters in virtually every secular western state. Neo-liberalism extends from free markets to free love, and free abortion is a nexus between the two.
It is time for the right-to-lifers to accept that, just as promised, neo-liberalism has delivered the right to choose - in employment, commerce, sexual relations, and the bearing of children.
Liberalism does not deny that in matters of choice there will be winners and losers. Each of us has to determine whether be a winner, and more importantly decide how to become a winner. The question confronting individual Irish women, now that they have made the collective decision in favour of choice, is whether aborting their children will indeed turn them into winners.

Geoff Fischer said...

"Fifty years from now the young women who gathered in their thousands outside Dublin Castle to cheer the stunning result of the “Repeal the Eighth Amendment Referendum” will have a wonderful tale to tell their grand-daughters."
Assuming they have grand-daughters of course. In which case the story will be "On that day in 2018 we gave ourselves the right to end the lives of our unborn children, but I chose to carry your mother to term and then to raise her to adulthood, and she in her turn chose to preserve the gift of life in your young soul, and now it is for you to decide what you will do when your time comes to conceive a daughter or a son".

greywarbler said...

NickJ
Unmarried mothers. In our innocence as citizens we imagined that there would be a healthy viable society so a mother could return to work or retrain for available jobs after the child was old enough to go to school.

I would have thought that the mother would be assisted to get work allowing time off for sickness, school holidays, preferably part-time allowing time to do the parenting work as well. This would have cost which would not have been lumped on the employer, but be subsidised by the government. Thus they would have achieved their aim to get women into the workforce and mostly self-sustaining, and not have a layer of dependency role-modelled by unskilled, stay at home mothers.

Government went into the DPB with good ideas, but it ended up in their narrow-minded way becoming charity for the helpless, which they added to by flooding the country with imported goods that would have been made domestically by those working mothers. Still the government and self-righteous, preachy, 'superior' RW rail against mothers who are solo, and cast an image of useless, lazy, dopey people that employers are happy to absorb and broadcast.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is." - Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B.
Sums it up for me.

Nick Jolliffe said...

So true Grey and so tragic for all of us. I've met so few who were deliberately useless or indolent especially for their children, who regardless of which deserve equality of opportunity.