In the last week two major events have developed in the Irish news. Firstly, crowds gathered in Knock, hoping to see visions of the Virgin Mary. This reinforces the stereotype of Catholic Ireland. We are presented as a nation, devout to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Secondly, the distressing story of a young girl, or a child, as she has been described, has emerged. Is it related to abortion in Ireland. This young girl was deemed suicidal and at a risk of self-harm in order to end her pregnancy. This circumstance legally qualifies her to access an abortion under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013. The girl and her mother were under the impression that they were being brought to Dublin to undergo the termination, however the young girl was instead detained in a psychiatric unit. Why? A psychiatrist believed that a termination was not the solution to the problem.
Unfortunately, Ireland is not unaccustomed to this harrowing treatment of women. Many Irish people claim that they are “pro-life” when really they mean they are “pro-forced births”. If these do-good-ers were truly pro-life, they would have just as much regard for the life of the mother, as well as the life of the unborn. They parade around with their “Love Both” slogan, and judgmental attitudes that are disguised as ‘concern’. However a quick look at Ireland’s bleak history of women who were in desperate need of help, it is evident that Irish people are not “pro-life”. They are pro-forced births.
On the cold, wet, wintry evening of January 31st 1984, a 15 year old girl lay dying of a postpartum hemorrhage. She gave birth to a stillborn child, alone, next to a grotto. Her name was Ann Lovett. She was found by two young school boys who fled to the home of a local priest for help. Instead of being greeted with concern, the priest simply said “It’s a doctor you need“. Why didn’t Lovett seek help when she realised she was pregnant? Couldn’t she have avoided such a bleak fate? When Lovett died, it was less than five months after the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution was brought into legislation. It is likely Lovett would have felt immense shame and mortification for becoming pregnant. Furthermore, the Magdalene Laundries were still in operation in Catholic Ireland. Not only would Lovett have had to face extreme stigma and odium, she would most likely have had to endure a life in an inhumane mother and baby home. To Lovett, putting her own life at risk by giving birth in isolation seemed to be a more favorable option. You say you’re pro-life, but what about Ann Lovett’s life?
In 1992, a 14 year old girl was raped by a neighbor and became pregnant. She sought advice from the local police force on whether fetal remains could be used as evidence to prosecute her rapist, as she had planned to travel abroad for an abortion. However, the Attorney General at the time sought an injunction, which prevented the young girl from travelling abraod to access healthcare that would criminalize her in her own country. Soon after, she miscarried. You say you’re pro-life, but what about the young woman in the X-Case’s life?
On the 28th of October, 2012, in a hospital in Galway, 31 year old Savita Halappanavar died due to complications of a septic miscarriage. This tragic death was entirely avoidable. Halappanavar requested a life saving abortion. However, she was told by a midwife that “this is a Catholic country”. And now in this Catholic country, another innocent woman is dead. You say you’re pro-life, but what about Savita’s life?
In 2014, a young asylum seeker arrived in Ireland. This woman was named “Miss Y” by the media. Miss Y discovered that she was pregnant as a result of rape. She became extremely suicidal and was deemed “suicidal enough” to legally qualify for an abortion under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013. However, this abortion was never preformed. As a result Miss Y engaged in a hunger strike. She was force fed against her will and her child was delivered by a forced cesarean section. Miss Y is now undergoing legal action against the State for her treatment. You say you’re pro-life, but what about Miss Y’s life?
A clinically dead woman
In December 2014, a clinically dead woman was kept alive on life support, against her families wishes. Why? To attempt to sustain the life of her unborn child, who was 17 weeks old. You say you’re pro-life, but what about the life and dignity of this unnamed woman?
How can Irish people call themselves pro-life? When thousands of women were sent to a miserable life of servitude in mother and baby homes, who had no access to contraception and so were forced to give birth to a dozen children, who were surgically operated on against their will. And now, in the 21st century.. is it the 21st century? Sometimes I forget because of how backwards Ireland is. Now in the 21st century, people still proudly call themselves pro-life, when they really mean pro-forced birth. Once a child is born, sure what does it matter if it’s disregarded and buried in a mass grave? Or left in a septic tank? What does it matter if 1 in 3 homeless people in Ireland is a child? The pro-life brigade did their job, right? They made sure the child was born. And for the mother? What does it matter if women are continuously being treated unfairly, their lives disregarded, all in an attempt to protect the life of an unborn entity? Once the fetus is born, God will look down upon this oppressed and backwards nation and bless it with thanks in the form of austerity, cuts in child benefit and a new leader who will ensure to continue women’s oppression. A woman is a fully formed being with thoughts and feelings and experiences and memories and dreams and ambitions. So next time you say you are pro-life, or hear someone say they are pro-life, ask them one simple, interchangeable question:
What about Ann Lovett’s life? What about Miss X’s life? What about Savita’s life? What about Miss Y’s life? What about the life and dignity of a clinically dead woman? And most recently, what about the life of the young girl who was detained in a psychiatric unit, in an attempt to save the clean image of this Catholic ‘pro-life’ country.
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