Our Lives, Our Choice
Posted on September 24, 2015
When I couldn’t have a baby, people said, “be thankful for what you’ve got”, “focus on the good things in your life”, “maybe God didn’t want you to have a baby”. The Irish public health service doesn’t offer any fertility treatment and no health insurer covers private treatment.
The health service was happy to diagnose my medical condition, it just wouldn’t treat it. Thankfully our insurance paid for the procedure that fixed my husband’s infertility but mine was something I’d just have to accept or pay for myself.
I desperately wanted to have a baby that would be loved and cared for, educated and guided in the right direction, a net benefit to society. But this was not about society, it was not about children’s welfare and it was certainly not about patients’ welfare. Some people called it a lifestyle choice – why should they have to pay for it? But I didn’t choose to have that medical condition. I had no choice.
Around the same time, a friend confided in me about her pregnancy. She wasn’t in a good place, she wasn’t in a relationship and she was distraught. She knew that the most responsible thing she could do, for her, for any potential baby, was to have an abortion. But abortion doesn’t happen in Ireland; another country would have to pick up this statistic.
So my friend went to another country, on her own, had an abortion, on her own and flew home, on her own. She had no choice.
I had my baby and my friend didn’t. There is a wanted child growing up in a ready and supportive home. A net benefit to Ireland. A lifesaver for me and for my friend. But only because we had the means to fund it ourselves.
Denying fertility treatment to those women who want to have a baby and denying abortion to those who don’t is not about morality, it’s not about children’s rights, it’s about denying women autonomy over their own bodies and their own futures.
The eighth amendment to the Irish constitution gives the “unborn” a right to life and equates this with the life of the mother. The Abortion Rights Campaign aims to repeal this to ensure the health and rights of Irish women are protected in line with international human rights standards. The campaign also wants to start the conversation that will lift the stigma surrounding all women’s reproductive options in Ireland.
The fourth annual March for Choice takes place in Dublin at 2pm on Saturday the 26th of September at the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square. It marks the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion.
The landslide vote for marriage equality and the passing of the Gender Recognition Bill this year shows the huge appetite for change in Ireland. With a general election on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to keep the momentum going. Repealing the eighth is just the start but it’s an important step towards giving women the right to make their own choices.