This post is going to be a little different. Here I’m going to share my own opinions and ideas on Abortion in Ireland. I don’t expect you all to share the same views or ideals that I have and I welcome healthy [ respectful ] debate in the comments.
This Sunday [April, 2nd 2017] I read an article in The Sunday Business Post Magazine by Barry J Whyte… it was the cover page feature entitled ‘A Matter of Facts’ – an intimate account of an Irish woman’s abortion journey. While the article certainly contained facts, the tone of the article was not factual or impartial, it was in fact, almost sympathetic, towards its 16-year-old, protagonist, Niamh*, and her decision to have an abortion.
I am against abortion
Before I get into the article itself I want to start off by saying that I am against abortion; except in the situation where it’s going to cause serious, physical, mental damage, health or death to either mother or baby.
I am not against the right to be informed or to give or obtain information on abortions and I’m not against a person’s right to seek or have an abortion if that is what they choose to do to themselves and their unborn child[ren].
But, unless you’re in a situation where it’s going to cause serious, physical, mental damage, health or death to either mother or baby I am not the person to come to for support or advice in your decision to have an abortion.
Help and support with pregnancy, adoption… I’ll hold your hand all the way.
I take objection…
In this specific instant, about this specific article, I take objection to the tone and the way the focus was placed on the article on the challenges faced by Irish women who have to travel to the UK for an abortion. The article almost gave you a sense that abortions should ‘really’ be easy for women to obtain, have and get to. [ I’ll elaborate a little more on this below]. I definitely agree that unbiased information that is detailed and accurate should certainly be available to anyone considering an abortion. An educated, informed person can make a better decision. [Even if I might not agree with the decision they may make]. This is an area, [the lack of unbiased information available] the article highlighted was a big challenge for women, their partners and families to find. This should certainly change in Ireland.
The cost of an abortion
However, through the experience of several accounts, the article made a point several times of highlighting the additional costs for Irish women to have an abortion [travel, accommodation, time off work ] can cost upwards of €1,200 it stated. And described some experiences staying in a “cheap, grimy hotel in central London, and the pre-packed sandwiches the night before” – Was this not a decision made by the people who booked the hotel? They choose it, they choose to have pre-packaged sandwichs the night before… did they expect a happy vacation, a party perhaps? Do people think that if it happened in Ireland that somehow it would be a ‘nicer’ less ‘grimy’ experience? I think not. Perhaps it would be slightly less than the €1,200 – but for some, there would always be a cost of travel, accommodation and time off work. There was an undertone to the article, that suggested because these women had choosen to have an abortion, and because they had to go to the UK for said abortion they were forced into rushed travel times, that their only option was to stay in less than desirable accommodation and eat terrible food. This is and was misleading. Accept for those who became pregnant as a result of rape, every decision surrounding and the pregnancy and abortion planning in the UK was their own.
… in other sections of the article people go on to describe how they felt after they returned home a “sense of anomymity” that was magnified and the feeling they were “criminals that had to keep a secret.” The article stated ‘ Among all the different stories, a common thread is the trauma of the journey and the secrecy they feel it demands of them.” Again, I really think the point is missed here, that this journey, whether it be 30 minutes in the car to the local hospital or ‘4hr bus to the airport, check-in and flight’ is always going to be traumatic. Having an abortion shouldn’t be an easy decision or choice. Regardless of the circumstances that surround a choice to have an abortion, you are still ending a human life… that should never be an easy choice.
Why did these women have abortions?
The article didn’t go into the specific reasons for having an abortion or scenarios for most of the women who were featured. For Niamh, it only said that it was the right decision for her. And after discussion, with her parents, boyfriend and his parents all eventually ‘more or less’ agreed it was the right thing to do. For one person, it stated she suffered from depression.
I think its safe to assume that amongst the women featured, some sought abortions because it was the quickest way to end the unwanted pregnancy, but could have technically carried a healthy baby to term and perhaps given it up for adoption if raising the child wasn’t an option. And others sought an abortion for health reasons, either theirs or the child’s.
The argument for ‘quicker’ abortions…
A particular comment, made by Niamh’s mother in the article particularly floored me… “The emotional end has been all over the place. I’ve never had emotions like it, but to get to this stage, it seems to go on and on and on whereas if it was done quicker, it wouldn’t ve made it…” she pauses for a second – ” easier is not the right word, but it wouldn’t have went on so long”
– like the decision to end someone’s life… her own grandchild’s such be quick! I was genuinely just distraught with that! I appreciate that for whatever reason that Niamh and her family choose to have an abortion, it was a difficult one… but do they honestly believe that making a quick decision… or having the abortion quicker would have been better? We’re told towards the end of the article that Niamh is now home and back in school… ” She’s fine. She’s quite happy at the minute” her mother says.
The implication that quicker abortions make for happier ‘outcomes’ … it just doesn’t sit with me at all!
I don’t wish a terrible abortion on you…
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a cold-hearted person that thinks an abortion should be a terrible experience for a woman. Not at all. But I think the enormity of such a decision makes the experience traumatic, cold, soulless and terrible. You are terminating a life, changing your own psyche and doing something that people have very strong opinions and beliefs about. You really must be 100% resolute in your decision. If you return home feeling like a criminal is that not more on you rather than on those around, especially if they don’t actually know? And if you made the decision to have an abortion and you have your own reasons, shouldn’t they be strong enough to stand up to social conversation with others that you want to talk to it about?… because if they don’t… should you actually be having an abortion in the first place?
I also just want to point out…
Many people have to travel great distances for medical procedures that cost vasts amounts of money. They take a great deal of research and planning by their families, medical teams and friends. Many procedures are not available in Ireland to those who medically need them and the majority of those procedures are about saving and prolonging lives. For those women who are healthy and physically able to travel to the UK for a wanted abortion [not including those outside or rape, abuse and medical necessarity] really be seen as a victim as they are sometimes portrayed?
What do you think? Did you read or see the article?
Please let me know what you thought in the comments below.
*Not her real name.