It took me a LONG time to write this article. Not because I don’t know what to think, but because I found it difficult to create a readable piece of written work because it is such a complex subject and my thoughts and opinions are similarly complex.
Let me start with the simple (or not!) part and the part that already might stop you from reading anything else after it unless you are the type of person who has the ability to disagree with another opinion and still can continue to listen/read for another bit to understand why.
The simple part is this: There is only ONE answer that a democratically-minded person should give to the question “To Repeal or not to repeal” and that is a clear and loud YES. But the next bit will surprise you maybe: The reason for the YES should have NOTHING to do with abortion or no abortion in the first place.
It is “YES” for me without hesitation, but I dislike the idea of abortions! So my opinion is not straight forward and I (partially) disagree with both camps that fight over the 8th Amendment Referendum.
Let me explain:
The Referendum is a decision about a clause in the Irish constitution and without a shadow of a doubt the clause about the protection of unborn life has NO place in a constitution. The New Oxford American Dictionary says “A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed.” In such a document, clauses like the 8th Amendment have no place! The laws of a country are there to cover what happens if you steal, or murder or do other possibly illegal things and that is where any regulation about abortion should be. The constitution is there to explain what the role of the parliament is and what the president does and how the state is organised, nothing else.
For that reason the 8th Amendment should have never been added to the constitution and it is high time that it will be removed.
BUT IT OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T END THERE
Unfortunately (but somewhat understandably) the issue for most voters will not be decided by the suitability of a certain clause in a constitution but by the further effect this clause will have and by their personal opinion. That’s where it gets messy.
After the YES vote at the referendum, we should have a discussion about abortion and that should lead to the relevant laws about it. It should be an open discussion, but that won’t happen. And for that reason the referendum will regrettably not be about the constitutional amendment but about the law that might take its place.
If you like that piece of law, you will vote YES and if you don’t like it then you will vote NO to block the ability to have a open and democratic discussion. I think that approach is wrong but I can understand why it is taken by the NO side.
WILL A NO STOP ABORTIONS
One question we need to ask is if a NO vote will stop abortions and I think it is 100% clear that it will not stop them! So voting NO can only be driven by trying to keep the lid on it. But if someone votes NO he/she will not stop women to go to the UK to get an abortion and oddly this seems to be something the NO side can live with. It shocks me, to be honest. A consequent NO voter should insist on making abortions illegal and put women in jail of they terminate the pregnancy. Anything else is a cowardly escape from a hugely problematic issue.
I would never be in support of criminalising the termination of a pregnancy and – in all honesty – I can imagine situations in my past where I didn’t have to, but where I would have been prepared to seriously consider suggesting an abortion if I had been the other 50% contributor to a pregnancy.
I would go even one step further and would claim that a YES will not cause a significant increase of abortions. Women that decide to have an abortion (and don’t think ANY woman is thrilled about having an abortion. Maybe thrilled about not being pregnant anymore, about not about going through the procedure.)
So if abortions won’t get stopped and if there might not even be an increase in abortions then a NO vote is even less effective.
TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY OR NOT?
But that leads me to the big question of what my opinion is about the early termination of a pregnancy? Be warned, though, it is not simple!
I am between both camps and feel unrepresented by either of them. I am in favour of the option of an abortion in certain circumstances and at the same time I feel very sad when I hear that in one year up to 190,000 wonderful children could have been born in the UK but they never got a chance to see this wonderful world. So I would love it if abortions were not necessary.
The overriding opinion I have is that nobody should be forced to be pregnant and nobody should be forced to end a pregnancy! There should be help available – good and positive and constructive help – in all situations where a woman has concerns about her pregnancy and the possible termination of it.
ABORTION SHOULD BE ALLOWED IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS
If the pregnancy was caused by a rape, if the baby has genetical abnormalities or if there is a medical reason that puts the mother at risk or that means the baby has limited chances to survive, the mother should be helped making the decision in a neutral, compassionate and non-influencing way. It ultimately is the mother (ideally with involvement of the father, but ideal situations don’t always happen!) who has to and should be allowed to decide if she wants the continuation or end of a pregnancy. If there is a medical situation then ALWAYS the survival of the mother should have priority.
Abortion as a method of birth control is a aspect I am very uncomfortable with, BUT I can see why even in these situations a mother will decide to end the pregnancy and I am not so arrogant to think that I know better or I or we as society should tell her what she should think or feel! So I am in favour of the option of abortion, but I think there should ALWAYS neutral (!) advise be given before the final decision.
If an abortion is a frequently used method for birth control though, I think our society and educational system has failed badly because there are other methods of birth control that we have to educate better about. An abortion should be the very very last option.
BABY OR NO BABY?
I know the difficult question about what this “thing” is in a woman’s womb has to be considered but it doesn’t make things easier. I think that it doesn’t matter if it is a foetus or a baby, it is definitely a form of life. And an abortion is the ending of life! Yes, I said it! And I am still not moving to the NO camp. Why is that? It is because I am hypocritical!! :-O But it gets worse: Most of us are hypocritical and we have not much of a problem with it!!
We are also arrogant! We think that us human beings rule this world and we should be allowed to do whatever we want (or whatever our moral source allows us to do). Have you ever killed a fly? Or a spider? You killed life that was created by God or the creator or whatever you believe is the source of being. Do you eat meat? Slaughter is brutal murder for our own pleasure! But we only SOME animals! The animals we feel are at the lower end of the intelligence hierarchy we kill. Cows and pigs. But would you eat dog or horse? NOOOO! HOW horrible! Why is that horrible? Why is it ok to kill and eat fish, but dolphins must be protected? We are soooo hypocritical!!
I am not suggesting that foetus is an animal, but most of us are not consequent. We make up stories and justifications. Oh and by the way, BOTH sides make up stories and justifications!
I admit that I am hypocritical and that’s why I am saying that I wished abortions were not necessary, I ALSO am of the opinion that we can’t close our eyes to medical, criminological, genetical AND societal reasons that could make it impossible for a woman to bring this baby she is carrying into this world. And if I am a hypocrite, what right do I have to judge her? We should help women to be able to see that there are options and that abortion is not the ONLY way in a stress situation, but we have to stop being arrogant a**holes who know better!
For that reason I am saying there is only ONE answer and that answer has to be YES.
By the way, if you are strongly against abortions then you can do something: Help organisations or even start an organisation that helps to reduce abortions. Work on making adoptions easier! Help people that provide financial and practical support to women in crisis so that maybe they will be able to consider bringing this baby in this world. Don’t be a person who votes NO and then does NOTHING! You are not saving lives! Vote YES and then start saving lives!!!