Another day, another horrific tale in the news. It’s unfortunately part of life in Ireland in 2017. In the last few years, the topics of mental health and the 8th amendment have been in the news seperately and together, but yesterday’s news had something different. The Irish Times journalist Kitty Holland reported on a case from the Child Care Law Report Project which took place in 2016, and opened our eyes to fresh horror.
I’ve been a fan of Claire Hennessy since my early teens. Her writing spoke to me at my different ages that I was reading it. Published in 2000 (when she was thirteen!), Dear Diary was my first introduction to a writer who would reoccur throughout my teen and early adult life. Through the teen angst years Abi and Emily (of Stereotype and Good Girls Don’t) were my touchstone. Adulthood has not changed their charm. That’s the thing with the YA fiction genre – when it’s good, it doesn’t matter what age you are. So, when I saw her latest novel “Like Other Girls” was about a teenager from Dublin, but dealt with things like the 8th amendment, questioning sexuality and the obligatory pop culture references, I was hooked.
Here we are again, continuing the conversation about a line in our constitution which forces half the population into a second class citizen role. One that requires permission, only given by begging, pleading, desperate measures, from the bigger authorities, because heaven help us if they were trusted with making their own decisions. Yes, boys and girls, we’re talking about the 8th amendment again. I’m actually tired of talking about it, but it’s not something we can stop the conversation about because it’s still there, glaring at us up from Bunreacht na hEireann, highlighting the role of women as vessels. De Valera’s Ireland is still alive and kicking according to that piece of paper.
By now, you’ll have heard that Donald Trump is running for President of the United States of America. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (in which case, lucky you), you’ll have observed that his campaign has been brash, offensive, and discriminatory in just about every way possible – racism, sexism, and a whole pack of incitement to hatred thrown in for good measure. Recently, he made a statement which caught my eye more than the others – and given the dramatics he’s come out with, that is really saying something. Upon being interviewed in Wisconsin lately, he statedÂ that women who seek abortion should be subject to â€œsome form of punishment.â€ Media uproar ensued. Women’s rights activists lamented and shouted. Here in Ireland, we looked on at the potential new leader of a world superpower condemning his country to our current state: where women’s choice in their reproductive rights is limited and intrinsically linked with the opinions of people whose lives it will never affect.