You are currently one of the few first world country in which abortion is illegal... yet you stand poised to lose this distinction any time now.
Before you do, I'd like to share a bit of my story. My hope is that hearing narratives of regret from women like me will make a difference.
I had an abortion at 19. I was a single teen mother, involved in an unhealthy intimate relationship. My son was a year old, and the thought of caring for another child whilst alone, underemployed, and uneducated was overwhelming. I ended my pregnancy early in the second trimester. On the first day of my two day procedure the clinician told me there were some anatomy discrepancies showing in the ultrasound, which made the decision easier for me. I have no idea whether this was true, or if they were attempting to absolve me of any lingering guilt. Suffice to say, it worked to confirm my feelings I was making the correct decision.
The following day I drove with a friend through a loud and aggressive pro-life crowd into the parking lot of the clinic, and I entered the office alone.
An abortion clinic is the saddest place you will ever visit.
This can not be attributed to the gravity of the situation. There are a number of serious medical situations which would seem to be surrounded in negativity and depression, yet we see the opposite. Those moments when people are in the midst of distress, they often find the most immense inner strength -- a way of rallying their last ounce of gumption to hold on to their happiness. Even offices where the terminally Ill are treated create affects of joy for their patients -- they honor the person whose life is soon ending with ceremonies highlighting their accomplishments, and encourage special times shared with family members and friends. They recognize even the most tremulous connection with life, celebrating each human being and recognizing their right to be treated with dignity.
Not so much in an abortion clinic.
There, the very substance of personhood is altered. No longer does blind science decide what constitutes a human being, but feelings and expediency do. The waiting room is filled with women waiting to end the lives of their children, and as you look into the eyes of the girl sitting across from you, you see her with the understanding that a unique individual is growing within her body, whose life will soon be over. In another time and place, her baby would be welcomed and celebrated. Now, it's just about finding relief from a problematic situation.
Many women who want abortion to be legalized in your country speak of helping to relieve the suffering of the impoverished woman, or the woman who has received a poor prenatal diagnosis.
The problem with this idea is that the relief felt upon leaving an abortion appointment is a temporary reprieve from a difficult situation.
There is no joy or relief in an abortion clinic. There is only the death of hope.
When you finally do legalize abortion, expect these hopeless offices to begin invading your neighborhoods. Not the upper-class ones, mind you. No one with the financial means to choose would live next door to an abortion clinic.
Your clinics will open in areas of less affluence -- in addition to being offices where hope dies, they will also be a constant visual reminder to the poor that the solution to poverty is ending their children's lives. The poor are less necessary, more expendable than the upwardly mobile, after all.
Two days after my abortion, in a conversation with my grandmother, I learned she had talked my own mother out of aborting me. Her description was "I dragged her out of the office", but this could be hyperbole. Whatever the details, the facts remained the same. I had been given the life I'd denied another human being. This, in addition to the genuine grief I felt immediately following the abortion (as in, regret before I even left the recovery room), sent me into a downward spiral. I did not abuse drugs, sex, or alcohol like many women do. But things changed in how I perceived my role as a mother to my living child. How could I claim to be a good mother when I had chosen to end the life of my unborn child?
It changed how I related to my friends and family. It changed how I chose to deal with myself, when I looked into the mirror.
For decades I internalized the reality of the expendable poor: because the reality was, my children were expendable, and so was I.
Abortion left me doubting my own self-worth, and it left me believing hope was something for other people. I no longer saw myself as someone who could overcome any obstacle. I became someone who never should have been born, and someone who had been so weak as to end the life of her unborn child.
Abortion did not empower me at all.
It grasped the little power I had -- the strength which I had used to extricate myself from an abusive relationship, the strength which had turned me into a formidable single mother..... that strength dissipated within days following my abortion.
In terms of the bigger policy questions you will face when looking at the legalization of abortion in Ireland, the question is begging to be asked: with the thousands of women, like me, who have shared our testimonies of depression, suicidality, drug and alcohol abuse, and unhealthy promiscuity following abortion, is this really something you want multiplied by the thousands in your communities? Do you want a population of poor who believe their ticket to solvency is murdering their offspring? Do you want families weakened by the secret knowledge that they've ended the lives of their children? Women who have looked themselves in the eye and decided they weren't strong enough to rise to any occasion?
We have an abortion epidemic in the US. More black babies are aborted, than born, in some areas. Babies are aborted for any reason under the sun. As long as a woman gets into that office before 12 weeks, her ability to procure an abortion is all but guaranteed. Between 12 and 24 weeks, there are some limitations, but the numbers at this late stage are still quite high. Every thirty minutes in the US a child is aborted. We regularly see news stories of women needing additional medical treatment due to abortion complications, and yes, women are still dying in our clinics.
Contrary to their promises of "safe, legal, and rare", abortion corporations (and make no mistakes- they aren't advocates, they're companies) have pushed for ever more looser, more dangerous, regulations in order to increase their profit lines. Abortion advocacy groups do not operate in the red, no matter how many public health initiatives tell you otherwise.
Abortion is a billion dollar business, you are an untapped market, and you are being manipulated by a slick campaign which positions murder as autonomy in order to hide its ugly underside.
It took me, an individual, decades to recover from my abortion. It took a second crisis pregnancy -- this time one in which my unborn child was diagnosed with a "fatal feotal anomaly" -- before I was finally able to forgive myself. How long will it take Ireland to recover from the potential mass murder of her children? How many decades of corporate profits for abortion providers will it take before they become too politically powerful to fight against? How long before they thoroughly change Irish culture, a culture which idolizes and rests on its Irish mothers, who are known for their fierce protective instincts? Your families are your strength. Abortion destroys the fabric of family centered culture. It is an isolating act. It alters people into something unrecognizable.
I know as an individual, my abortion drastically changed me. I am not the same person I was before I lay down on that table. I never will be, and I grieve for that girl.
You still have an opportunity to "leave the clinic", so to speak. Don't make the same mistake I made, so many years ago. Your children are protected, and you are stronger for this reality. Real strength does not come from the destruction of the weak, but nurturing those who are not able to defend themselves.
Don't give in to the bully politics which tell you Ireland is not strong enough to meet the needs of every mother facing a crisis pregnancy.
Don't give in to the bully politics which tell you Ireland will only be "modern" and "free" by killing its own children.
Don't give in to the bully politics which uses children with disabilities- children like my own daughter- to advance sweeping abortion reform which will leave you with fewer regulations than any other first world country. (Anyone who crawls onto the backs of children with disabilities to forward a machine put into place to eradicate them is a particularly heinous person, and not worthy of your trust.)
You can take care of your people without this abomination. Your women do not need this "freedom". Your families do not need it. Most especially, your future children do not need it. You only need to look to America, with its 60,000,000 aborted children, to understand why.
post-abortive American mother