Aug 5, 2009

Make noise for choice

From Thinking Girl

First, let’s get some terms straight. “Pro-choice” does not mean “pro-abortion”; it means supporting women’s rights to self-determination over their bodies. “Fetuses” are not “babies”; fetuses exist in the womb, babies exist outside of the womb. “Human” does not equal “person”; human is the biological name of our species, personhood involves moral agency.

I agree with her definitions completely. I'm pro choice. It's my body and my health. But pro choice is so much more than just pro abortion. Where is the sex education? When I was in fifth year in 1996, we were subjected to a brief talk by a supposed expert who told us that no man would have us if we didn't stay virginal. The advice came a little late for most of the class. I hope there is comprehensive sex education in schools now but somehow I doubt it. Where is the funding for the sex education programmes?

What about the cost of condoms? They are prohibitively expensive for teenagers and young adults. Even adults might have difficulty paying these prices. According to, a package of 12 durex varies from €10.49 to €16.45. €16.45 is a ridiculous price to pay for 12 pieces of latex. The equivalent in France is €6.80 but condoms are distributed in schools free of charge on AIDS awareness day.

I suppose the pro lifers would take a similar attitude to the sex ed I received. But it pays to be pragmatic. Teens are going to have sex with or without protection which may result in pregnancy or STDs. Education is key but hey let's bury our heads in the sand and pretend we live in 1950s Ireland where that sort of stuff didn't happen.

Ireland claims to be pro-life and always there is the "won't somebody think of the children" non-argument. But Ireland isn't pro life. Ireland is caught in a Catholic ethos despite the revelations of those pulpit preachers. It's the old story of keeping up appearances. Isn't that why so many girls and women ended up in Magdalene laundries where they worked without pay until they died. No boys or men were similarly imprisoned for the crime of having sex or getting raped or being considered too pretty.

Ireland doesn't care about children. That much is clear from the Ryan report. Hundreds of children were buried in unmarked graves after being beaten to death. Where is the outcry? Hundreds of thousands of children were sent to hell in the industrial schools. People knew and did nothing. Doctors, nurses, gardaí and families knew what happened and did nothing. Everyone is shocked now that denial is no longer an option. But the state continues to negotiate with the 18 orders. They negotiate with child abusers and rapists. Few criminal charges have been brought.

And people might argue that that's in the past but it isn't. Children are placed in adult psychiatric wards, children's allowance is being cut, children's hospitals are being shut and you still hear the scornful diatribes against single mothers.

No more hiding behind the "murdering babies" straw-argument. If you gave a shit, you'd campaign for the children that are alive rather than a bunch of cells that merely has the potential.

In Ireland we have no legal access to abortion, inflated condom prices and no comprehensive sex education. That is an abysmal state of affairs.

I know a woman who managed to get pregnant by her lover. She's in her 40s and herself and the husband don't have sex any more. She consulted the old fashioned methods of abortion - herbs - and managed to get rid of the fetus. However, these methods are dodgy and dangerous. Millions of women die from illegal abortions all over the world.

I've been raped twice. If I had fallen pregnant you can be damned sure that I would have made sure that I had the choice whether to continue the pregnancy. If I would have to, I would beg, borrow or steal the money to travel to France to get an abortion. Get the fuck out of my decisions.

One in every four children will experience sexual abuse. One in every three women under the age of 40 will be raped. To force these women and children to continue a pregnancy through rape is to retraumatise her and re-enforces the commonly held view that women and girl's lives are of lesser importance than a fetus. Forced pregnancy is a human rights violation.

Listening to the Last Word today disgusted me when the pro-lifer used the words "women deserve better" and it reminded me of this poem by the awesome Sonia Renee. It is very powerful. Listen to it.

What We Deserve

Now sign the petition, campaign for comprehensive sex education, free condoms and make noise for choice.

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