THE BLOG

Ireland Has To Trust Women With Their Own Reproductive Rights - If Not More Will Die

12/03/2017 19:02 GMT | Updated 13/03/2017 08:23 GMT
Alastair Moore

all women everywhere

Savita Halappanavar died on 28th October in 2012 from multiple organ failure and cardiac arrest after being denied a lifesaving procedure.

Ann Lovett died at the age of 15 on 31st January in 1984 after giving birth alone in a field to a son who died before she was found.

Eleven women travel every single day from Ireland to the UK in order to access safe abortions.

These are facts. These are real women that have laughed and loved and made mistakes and changed lives, and the Northern Irish and Irish governments and people have failed them.

These women have become emblems of the struggle for abortion rights in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Their stories have gained notoriety, and have taken on the quality of myth or urban legend - shrouded in tragedy, shadow and fear.

Savita and Ann were real women. They were betrayed, their safety cast aside in favour of dogma, not by some intangible source or figure of malintent, but by us and the policies of our country. Every day that we deny the rights of half of our population to govern their own bodies and access safe medical services, more stories like these are written. The Irish people have a long history of holding up women as beacons to represent their country and freedom, and yet we do not trust them with the basic human right of control of their own reproductive choice.

I've written and rewritten this piece multiple times as I try and control my temper. I try and master my rage and sadness for these women, prevent my grief from pouring out onto the page and making me appear shrill, or hysterical, or some other stupid word used to demean the legitimate outrage of someone who cares for women's individual humanity. I've decided to write what I feel (and what thousands of other people around the world feel as well if you follow the news) and see how it turns out. I can always edit all the swearing out later.

I am an Irish woman, and I grew up with stories of girls who "got the boat to England". I heard whispers about girls who were "acting the tramp" who had to be careful before they ended up buying a ticket. It became a normalised thing for me: if you got pregnant and you had the money, that's how you would fix things. If you got pregnant and you didn't have it, then welcome to motherhood. How can this be the case? How can we continue to treat the women of our country in this way?

As soon as the topic of abortion comes up, people immediately begin to weigh in with their thoughts. People assess the pros and cons, taking personal experience and religious belief into account when discussing the actions of an entire population of women. Women become reduced to vessels in their eyes, not the people that they share their lives and homes with, not their mothers, sisters, friends and partners.

abortion campaign

We need to break down this disconnect for the people of Ireland. You love these women. You love the eleven women you send out of your country every day while they pursue a basic human right. You love the women who die in fear and pain because they did not receive the care they needed. You love the women who are forced to raise children that they do not have the mental or financial capacity to take care of because they couldn't see any other choice.

You know them, and you love them.

I am part of the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign, and we aim to bring people in London together to campaign for free, safe, legal abortion for every person in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Movements like this are springing up all over the world, as people become more aware of the inhumane laws forced upon Irish and Northern Irish women. We gather in rooms and in halls and we try and help our sisters. We protest and march and talk and write pieces like this. We do everything that we can to make sure that no more women have to suffer. We try and make sure that no more women have to die.

Please, please listen to us. And join us.

If you want to learn more about the campaign or volunteer with us then check out our website or follow us @LdnIrishARC

HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today

Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com