In less than two weeks, we will know the result of the referendum which proposes to repeal the 8th Amendment in the Irish constitution. The end is nigh, people, it is DECISION time. For those left undecided, it’s time to get making up their minds. A hashtag caught my eye in the last few days, #whoneedsyouryes. It was sparked by a campaign from the National Women’s Council of Ireland under the same name, and contains powerful stories and thought provoking insights from people thinking about this referendum. If you haven’t already, I compel you to read through at least some of the tweets. For me, I wrote what I could fit into the character limit as one of the categories of people I believe my yes will be for on the 25th. But afterwards, so many more occurred to me, and I felt the need to share them. This is who my yes is for.
My heart is sore. I’ve just finished listening to an incredibly brave woman, Siobhan Whelan, talk about her pregnancy in an interview on Prime Time. Prime Time never gets the good news stories from maternity wards, and this interview was no different. Siobhan, who was pregnant at the same time as I was in 2013/2014, was treated in Cavan General Hospital. This hospital has been in the news quite a bit over the past few years, home to numerous tragedies caused by medical misadventure. Pregnant women have entered and left empty handed, mourning the loss of their babies, believing in many cases that it was their fault. This isn’t the first Prime Time interview I’ve watched with women who were treated there, not the first I’ve welled up to. It draws little surprise, even though the topic is heart-wrenching. The lack of shock about the conditions is what hurts my heart most of all. It’s not exactly the only example of pregnant women losing their voices in the course of pregnancy as far as the medical profession is concerned. Bodily autonomy isn’t something afforded to those with child here.