SIR – I am an active campaigner for reproductive rights in Galway and I am writing to discuss why I personally am fighting for the right to free, safe, and legal abortion in Ireland.
I am a PhD candidate. I spend the majority of my days reading contemporary records relating to the long history of control and subjugation that women and children have faced under the Irish state. Women with no options left for them in Ireland fled to England either after having been forced to give up their babies or while trying to conceal their pregnancies. English bishops wrote back to McQuaid begging ‘please deal with your problem at home!’
We would like to think that we have moved past this time in history but women every day are still taking flights and ferries to access their human rights and receive what is considered elsewhere to be basic healthcare.
Every day that I am studying these records and hearing these stories, I get angrier but I am reminded of Phil Scraton’s lecture on his Hillsborough research and fight for justice where he told us not to separate academia and activism and not to lose our rage in the process.
I am an American and a dual citizen of both countries. I am the granddaughter of a Galway woman. When I was manning a pro-choice stall months back a woman shouted at me ‘your granny would be ashamed!’
My granny would not be ashamed, were she alive today. She would be proud because she remembered the state of things for women in Ireland that she left behind when she moved to the United States. Like me, she loved Ireland but wanted to see a better future for those who came after.
We are fighting for ‘free’ because this is a class issue and everybody should be allowed bodily autonomy regardless of their ability to travel. We are fighting for ‘safe’ because we do not want anymore people hurting themselves at home due to a lack of access to proper assistance and information.
We are fighting for ‘legal’ because right now rapists face a more lenient jail sentence than people and doctors accessing abortion services. Those people taking the abortion pills in their homes are not criminals and should not be made to feel that they are.
I hope that you will take the time to consider the deeply negative ramifications that this amendment has and how your vote for repeal will help us move forward as a society.
Thank you for your time.