“If I could, I’d tell those who profess to protect the unborn that maybe they should stop getting in the way of women making their own decisions – and instead get on with making the country a better place for the rest of us”

In this anonymous, personal submission to the Left Tribune, the author details the consequences of the Eighth Amendment for ordinary people and makes a powerful case for full recognition of the right to choose.

My partner was 19, I was 20. We were crashing in a rich friend’s spare room in a firetrap basement flat on Pembroke Street. One way in and one way out. Trapped under four stories of Georgian brick and mortar with nothing to our name but a pregnancy test, the result of which screamed of so many choices to be made in the very near future.

I despaired over our material condition: no jobs, me a recent college dropout and no permanent address. My concerns were mostly financial. It seems some of the indestructible armour of self-confidence (or at least, wilful bloody-mindedness) that is the gift and curse of every young person, was still mine to enjoy for a time.

My partner’s anxiety was rooted in family, their mother and father having concealed the parentage of an older sibling until the rest were old enough to do the maths from the wedding date and realise there were seven years to spare.

So we made a choice.

Our daughter started school this year. She will be six soon. We have to move out of the apartment we have made our home for three years shortly after her sixth birthday. She asks me where we’re going to move to and I tell her I don’t know yet. An unfortunate truth.

She tells me about whether she’d like to marry a boy or a girl and I say she can do either. I am glad this was made into a truth three years ago.

She asks how babies are made and we give her a stripped back version of it, she is satisfied and mercifully doesn’t ask about the mechanics. A cowardly truth. I’ll explain the whole deal later.

She said that she would like a baby but only when she’s old – she wants to open a sweet shop first. I tell her she can do whatever she chooses to. I’ve lied to her.

There is a referendum coming. Friends of mine have been accosted on trains for wearing the wrong badges. A Citizens Assembly was called and its recommendations disregarded. People style themselves as ‘Pro-Life’ and anoint themselves the unelected protectors of our children, but I never see them call around to ask if we need help with babysitting or finding a new place to put a roof over my wonderful child’s head.

Ministers say they need to make a decision that can let them sleep at night. If I could I’d tell them not to worry, they never lost any sleep when the housing stock bottomed out or when they thought raising the children’s allowance they cut was some kind of incentive to vote for them. They certainly never lost any sleep hearing stories of the women forced onto boats just to see a doctor.

If I could, I’d tell anyone who thinks they need to protect the unborn that maybe they should stop getting in the way of women making their own decisions and get on with making the country a better place for the rest of us.

I want my daughter to have that sweet shop and that baby. I want her to have them in whatever order she chooses. She’ll make the right choices for herself if no one gets in the way.

(The views expressed in Left Tribune articles are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Labour Youth).

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