Big Damn Abortion Heroes in Ireland: Part One

I’ve talked a lot recently about people getting in the way of access to abortion in Ireland. The women who ratted their housemate out to the police because she wasn’t sorry enough about her abortion. I’ve gotten deeply snarky about people who make mind-bogglingly ignorant arguments against pregnant people’s right to choose.

I have’t talked that much about the other side: the people who speak up. Those who tell their stories. People who risk arrest and villification to choose their own path or to support others’ choices. The big damn abortion heroes of our time.

As there are a lot of people to share, this post is split this into three parts.

Do you need an abortion?

It’s illegal in the Republic of Ireland to encourage anyone to have an abortion. It’s possible to provide information, but not to tell someone that you think an abortion might be a good option for them. Conversely, it’s perfectly legal to say whatever you like to encourage someone not to have one.

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If you’re in the North or South of Ireland and are considering abortion, Need Abortion Ireland is there for you. This website has everything you might need, whether you’re travelling to the UK or need a safe way to access abortion pills on the island. They’ve a text support service that you can contact at any time before, during or after your abortion. They’ll even send you a care package full of “pyjamas, snacks, films, anything you need to make your abortion experience as comfortable as possible“. If you need an abortion and you’re feeling isolated? These are the big damn heroes who’ll do everything short of coming to your house, propping your feet up and putting the kettle on for you themselves.

Continue reading “Big Damn Abortion Heroes in Ireland: Part One”

Big Damn Abortion Heroes in Ireland: Part One
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Dublin’s 2015 March for Choice: in pictures.

Sometimes I feel like Ireland’s reputation is unfairly overshadowed by our history. Conservative, grey, under the thumb of the church. And yes, there is a truth to that. But there is also a truth to this. Yesterday’s 2015 March for Choice was huge. The sun shone. Women took to the stage and shared their stories.

 

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The history of pro-choice in Ireland has often been difficult. I remember a few short years ago: countless winter vigils for our dead. Standing huddled in the cold and the dark. We wouldn’t stop until Savita had something resembling justice. Seem times it feels like we’re always responding. Yet another tragedy. Yet another woman dead. Or locked up until her pregnancy is done. We’re always on the defensive. Continue reading “Dublin’s 2015 March for Choice: in pictures.”

Dublin’s 2015 March for Choice: in pictures.

Abortion Rights Campaign Weekly Media Roundup

Writing I do elsewhere officially counts for my NaBloPoMo. Also, if you read all of my rabbiting on about abortion, you’re probably not entirely uninterested in seeing what some other people have to say.

Welcome to another Weekly Roundup, where each week our media team highlights how abortion is discussed at home and abroad. This week: marking the first anniversary of Savita Halappanavar’s death, calls for revised abortion guidelines in Northern Ireland, and abortion access is under threat in Texas.

-Read the rest over at the Abortion Rights Campaign

 

Abortion Rights Campaign Weekly Media Roundup

Highlights from the Ten Days of Action

I wrote a post for the Abortion Rights Campaign!

ARC’s 10 Days of Abortion Rights Action served the dual function of marking 21 years since the X Case judgement and demanding legislation before the summer is out. While we’ve yet to see that legislation, the energy, diversity, creativity and determination of everyone involved over the past weeks has been as heartening as it is inspiring. This time last year I would never have imagined events like these happening here in Ireland- but it’s been a long twelve months in abortion activism. My personal highlight from the Ten Days? Looking around the Sugar Club on Friday night to a room full of new faces. While I’m an unrepentant introvert in real life, there’s little that makes my activist heart happier than a room full of strangers- so I was even happier a week later, looking at photos of the Cork March for Choice and barely recognising anyone.

Demonstrations and cabaret, though, were only the beginning- although I wouldn’t envy anyone having to follow Dublin Nights for Choice‘s latest offering.

Check out the rest over at ARC.

Highlights from the Ten Days of Action

The Abortion Rights Campaign 10 Days of Action

Yesterday morning, the Abortion Rights Campaign launched a nationwide 10 Days of Abortion Rights Action, which will take place beginning the first of March. Or, as I call it, this Friday. Ten days of action, because every single day at least ten women have to travel overseas for abortions they are barred from obtaining in Ireland.

You’re all probably sick to death of me rabbiting on about abortion in Ireland by now, but in case you’ve been under a rock: Abortion is illegal in Ireland. It is constitutional only to save a pregnant person’s life, and we don’t even have legislation for that. This leads (surprise, surprise), to dead women. ARC campaign for lifesaving legislation in the short term, and constitutional change in the long medium slightly less short term.

Greetings from Ireland

Postcards and Events

ARC and local prochoice groups are hosting a diverse programme of events throughout the ten days. Check out their website and Facebook events page for details of goings-on near you! They range from rallys and stalls to cabaret and comedy to talks and film screenings- there’s bound to be something that takes your fancy.

In addition to this, we’re running a nationwide postcard campaign to send 30,000 print postcards- and even more online- to TDs to urge them to legislate for X- that’s for lifesaving abortions- before the Dail’s summer holidays. Postcards will be available at all of the 10 Days events, or hop over to the ARC website and we can send them to you.

Ten Days of Action Launch

By the way

In case you haven’t noticed, all of the links above to the Abortion Rights Campaign’s website mean.. that the website is up! Check it out! Bookmark it! Subscribe! Tell your friends! Get involved!

The Abortion Rights Campaign 10 Days of Action

Abortion: Saying it out loud

On Blog for Choice day, Sharrow wrote about telling a group of 150 pro choice activists in Dublin about her abortion. I’d been at the meeting and wrote about it on the day but, fittingly enough, had ended up sitting on the piece all week. Funny how these things can feel so damn personal even when they’re so obviously public. I’ve since decided to post it after all. Here’s what I had to say:

The hall erupted in cheers. They went on for a long time. I think none of us wanted to stop.

I’ve heard those words before, but never like this. In living rooms and bedrooms over cups of tea and bottles of wine. With people who know me well or- more recently- people who know enough of my public persona. That’s how we talk about these things here. With people we trust. Behind closed doors.

And then today one woman stood up as the meeting was about to break for lunch, took up the microphone and told over a hundred people that she had had an abortion, that she had had to travel and that her only regret was having to leave her country to do it.

Those four little words. “I’ve had an abortion”.

It says something about Ireland that in my relatively-brief time as a pro choice activist I have never once heard someone say it in public. Hearing them spoken out loud, here in this open meeting full of activists it felt like a revolution.

Three times the full capacity of the Aviva stadium. That’s the number of women we know to have been forced to travel overseas for abortions that are illegal in Ireland. Three times the full capacity of the Aviva stadium filled with silent women.

I know that most of those women will never stand in front of hundreds and say those words. They shouldn’t have to. It shouldn’t matter. Abortion should be as personal a matter as any other decision about our bodies and our lives. But when a country shames women, calls them immoral and murderers and heartless while knowing nothing about them, intimidates them into silence for decades- decades– on end, there is nothing more powerful than one woman’s words.

“I had an abortion. I had an abortion and I don’t regret it”.

Sharrrow isn’t everyone. She can’t speak for the hundreds of thousands of other women who’ve made similar journeys. As someone who is lucky enough to have never been forced out of my country for healthcare, I can’t speak for any of them. But I can speak as an Irish person, as someone whose body is affected by the choices of others, as a woman who lives in Ireland. I can speak as someone who’s always had a plan in my back pocket for how I’d travel if I had to. And I can speak as someone who is committed to equality, compassion, dignity and rights for every person living in this country. To me, her voice was a revolution that broke through my skin and into my heart and pride and every single word that is whispered or unspoken or kept behind closed doors.

That was whispered. That was unspoken. That was kept behind closed doors.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Abortion: Saying it out loud