Nobody is ‘pro-abortion’ and I am as pro-life as the next person. But I have fought for the emancipation of women since the 60s. A woman’s right to choose is an extension of the emancipation of women from the old days.
People seem to forget that in the 1960s in Ireland, if a married woman was ill and her doctor recommended a hysterectomy to save her life, she couldn’t have it without the signed consent of her husband. She would have had to go to England for a hysterectomy, the way women do nowadays for terminations.
I have spent 30 years attending women’s refuges and legally representing women in great distress. Often they had pregnancies which they couldn’t cope with because of their marital situation. They were being beaten up every night, being raped, and again, there was no such thing as marital rape then. Women in dire circumstances and it was just very sad. These things were designed to keep women down. They were mainly pushed by the Catholic Church and the governments of the time, which were practically entirely men.
In 1997, I was running an abortion referral clinic in Dublin. One of my doctors was arrested and there was a protest outside saying I was a killer. It was being led by a woman I had helped with a crisis pregnancy in the 70s when it was illegal to give information on abortion. Not only that but I delivered her to and collected her from Dublin airport. So you have a lot of hypocrisy and ridiculousness.
Abortion was made legal in Britain 50 years ago today, but just 70 miles across the sea in Ireland and Northern Ireland, women with crisis pregnancies are still forced to get a boat or a plane. Abortion should be legal worldwide. The problem with Ireland is, we are still controlled to a certain extent by those men and women who suffered the total control of the Church in their early years and they’re finding it very difficult to break the shackles. I was fortunate enough that my mother made me discern between what was right and wrong and not be influenced by any church, just think through it yourself.
We had the issue of divorce. They had the slogan “Hello Divorce, Goodbye Daddy” a load of shit, it never happened. Now divorce is an accepted part of Irish life, the same with the rights of the gay community to get married. Our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, he couldn’t have dreamed about becoming Taoiseach in the 60s, so we have come a long way.
Women couldn’t have had terminations in Ireland, but in time to come it’ll be just something in the history of women’s rights. It’s all part of the emancipation of women and we have a right to continue on that road. Women should have totally equal rights in everything that men have. I say ‘cut the shit, let it in now’. It’s a woman’s right to choose, let’s get it over with.