I don’t want to rain on the repeal parade, but I just can’t celebrate abortions

Read original article in the Belfast Telegraph here

“Ireland is still the same country today as it was before, just a little more tolerant, open and respectful,” Leo Varadkar said outside Dublin Castle on Saturday, where thousands of people chanting ‘yes’ gathered to celebrate..

I’d love to rephrase that: ‘Ireland has more authoritarian bigots who think they’re liberals than it did before.’

Repealing the 8th Amendment was essentially a victory over the Catholic Church. Feminists, non partisans and politicians hugged each other crying ‘we made it’ as they shattered the illusion that the church was their moral arbiter.

It would be great if it wasn’t so righteous. All I can see is a country that isn’t that different than it was before, because ultimately Irish people are sheep, who will do anything to impress global outsiders.

One of the great paradigms of propaganda is bandwagon mentality, which was evident outside Dublin Castle on Saturday.

But I don’t want to rain all over their repeal parade. I’m happy for the tireless campaigners who have been fighting for women’s rights for decades, and for women who no longer have to travel to the UK for abortions when their babies suffer from fatal foetal abnormality. I’m happy victims of rape, incest or domestic violence can have abortions at home, but will I jump up and down like a fool singing Tracy Chapman ‘Talkin bout a Revolution’, amidst cars beeping down South William Street in Dublin- enclave of the absolutist left and the blue haircut?

Absolutely not. I can’t bring myself to celebrate abortions.

This was not an easy campaign to get behind. Many of us spent years deliberating, ruminating, going back and forth. It was like Sophie’s Choice. I’m pro life, but I really don’t like telling people how to live their lives. The No side voted out of consciousness against the introduction of the death penalty to the unborn. Yes voters voted for women to have autonomy over their bodies.

The dichotomy was palpable, but how can you be 100 percent for one or the other?

It’s not that women haven’t suffered under the Eighth- there are heartbreaking stories on both sides. I have two cousins who were both told their babies would have down syndrome and doctors suggested they abort. Both kept their children. Both were fine.

In this age of idealistic social media obsession and positivity memes, the lack of compassion, especially from female journalists was unnerving. Nell McCafferty was one of the few who displayed some empathy towards the embryo.

That’s not to say, the No side didn’t make mistakes. The posters were too much, and the fact that many campaigners are Catholic worked against them. Whatever about the obsessive fruits going around with fake plastic foetuses.

But then again, as we officially release ourselves from the shackles of the church in front of a global audience, it’s easy to forget how Irish people let priests control their lives.

Mothers were complicit, not afraid to take the priests word over that of their own child, spoiling their sons over their daughters.

But yeah, in hindsight, let’s blame the church and bang on about how awful old Ireland was.

I sometimes forget I grew up here too. I’m not Catholic and I never went to a nuns school, which is good because I was allowed to think for myself, but like many others I’m not downtrodden, abused and enslaved. From my recollection, the 80s and 90s were amazing in Ireland.

It’s important we remember that just because women who came before us suffered, doesn’t mean we can collectively ride on their coattails of victimhood. If you haven’t been oppressed, don’t make out you’re oppressed. The women crying outside Dublin Castle in repeal jumpers, probably haven’t been to the Magdalene laundries or even had or will have an abortion, so why are they carrying the burden? Victim culture is dangerous for the individual and society.

But not to worry, we’re a great little country, open and modern- at least CNN and other global media outlets think so. And we’re amazing at selling ourselves, even to each other.

“Under the eighth amendment women in crisis have been told you are on your own, today we say that we want to stand with you,” Health Minister Simon Harris said, after being egged on by the crowd who were donning ‘we fancy Simon Harris’ posters.

Momentum is great for governments. In the ecstatic trance of a YES vote, people were saying things like ‘I trust our government to legislate on this properly.”

Forgetful much? What about about the cover up surrounding the cervical smear scandal, endemic corruption, domestic abuse, murder and the fact that women are less safe in Ireland than ever before, out of control homelessness, static housing, obscene rents, vulture capitalism, inequitable taxation, ganglands, expensive childcare, soaring suicide rates, mental health, corporate largesse, the list goes on.

Sure, once the repealers have stopped trolling pro lifers online in a virtuous trance, and thrown their repeal jumpers in the back of their wardrobes, maybe they’ll see that too. Once the smoke and mirrors are gone, life in Ireland has never been more people unfriendly.  Trailblazer Aoibhe Smyth said ‘equality and justice and freedom for people’ exists now that women can have abortions, but what if we can’t afford to live here, or afford abortions.

With that in mind, lets make our next battle about something that really affects us all like the rental crisis and we’ll see how much political engagement we get.