Taking a stand. Picking a side. Backing an idea. Having a firm point of view. Whatever you want to call it, I’ve always believed that standing up for what you believe in and ultimately voicing your opinion is a brave thing to do.
It won’t always win you praise, or adoration however. It won't always be popular. Indeed, you might find yourself under fire for your views, berated and intimated, but if it’s something you believe in unequivocally and can back it up with every fibre of your being, if you’re doing it because you want to not because you have to, if you can have reasoned debate without forcing your view onto others, if you can respect a differing standpoint and talk without descending into personal attacks, then it’s the right thing to do.
As a writer and blogger, I’ve written in various print and online publications for over 15 years. Most of the time it was commissioned features where I didn’t express a strong opinion, but blogging has allowed me to spread my wings and put a little of myself into my writing.
As the referendum on the 8th Amendment is now set in stone for Friday 25th May 2018, I think it’s especially important that as a parenting blogger, I make my feelings clear.
So I’m nailing my colours to the mast for all to see and I will be voting YES to repeal the 8th Amendment in the forthcoming referendum.
Regular readers probably aren’t surprised, not because it’s something I talk about often, in fact I’ve only ever written about the topic once before. That was last year when I blogged about wrestling with my own conscience about the topic of abortion. It’s not something I’m going to rehash again. (If you’d like to read it, click here.) It was a long post and one that delved into my own internal battle between my faith and my heart.
Ultimately, I decided that I couldn’t go on supporting an Amendment that forced women to travel to another country in the face of a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality. I’d heard horrific story, after horrific story of women and couples having to transport the bodies of their babies home in coffins in the boot of a car or having ashes delivered to the door by a courier, as if it was an online purchase. It made me sick to my stomach and deeply ashamed of my own country.
I didn’t know then, that a few months later a referendum would finally be called and for the first time in my life and for an entire generation of women, we would get a chance to have a say.
This referendum deals with removing the 8th Amendment from our constitution to allow the government to inact legislation around abortion. That legislation will be about more than just the scenario of fatal foetal abnormalities and if the referendum is passed, the Government will make a proviso for unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks.
I’ve never had an abortion. I hope I will never be in the position where I am faced with that decision, but if I was, I’d want to make sure I could seek medical help in my own country, surrounded by my family. Not airplane journeys, ferry rides, strange cities and hotel rooms. Not dodgy pills bought online or trips to the hospital because of their consequences. It must be terrifying enough without any of that thrown into the mix.
An abortion is not something any woman would do lightly. She doesn’t set out to have an abortion on a whim. It is something that will probably stay with her for the rest of her life, even if it was something that was right for her at the time and she may have no regrets about. It will still be with her.
An abortion is something that requires huge consideration and the repercussions are immense. But I would never judge another woman for her decision.
I want to be clear. I’m voting YES to have the CHOICE available in my own country; not to have abortion become some kind of pseudo 'birth control measure', because despite scaremongering and outrageous handling of the facts in some circles, that is never going to be the case. Fear and the demonising of women have to be disconnected from this debate, because it’s time we started trusting women to make their own decisions about their bodies and lives.
Ultimately, I feel it’s time we started facing up to the issue of abortion. There’s no more running to be done. Are we still the Ireland that sweeps ‘unpleasant’ things under the carpet or have we moved on? It’s time we stopped pretending it’s not happening, because it is and we need to make sure it happens in a safe, regulated way where women can get the full support of the medical profession, as well as having their families around them.
I’m putting my opinion out there because I think it’s the right thing to do. I’m not telling you to vote in a certain way, on the contrary, this issue is one of the most deeply personal ones we’ve ever had to deal with and you owe it to yourselves to think long and hard about what you will do on 25th May.
Talk to your friends, you family, don’t let yourself be swayed by nasty vitriolic trolling or shock tactics on any side.
Don’t vote a certain way because someone tells you to or expects you to. Listen, talk and make your own mind up.
But whatever way you intend to vote, please get out there and vote. Make your voice heard, because it matters, more than you know.