The maternity hospital must belong to us – not to the church
I was 19 when I had my abortion. It was quite a miserable experience. My father had just died. I was an emotional mess, living in London with the man I had faithfully promised Dad I would never see again, let alone hook up with. The night before Dad died, I wrote him a letter confessing everything. When the call came in from Ireland at 7 a.m. the next morning, it was still written on the piano: “Your father has died.”
When I discovered I was pregnant.
My husband called his ex-girlfriend. What should I do? To where? see who Next, I’m in the office of this incredibly posh consultant with his secretary, who had the longest and reddest nails I’ve ever seen, counting my £300, which I borrowed from a friend who ran a restaurant. Going through the form, the consultant pronounces “Ireland” with a quick glance over his glasses, as if scratching it out of a shoe.
“I’ll see you in the morning,” he said, closing my folder.
“You want this procedure, don’t you?”
That shuts me up. I am referred to a psychiatrist a few blocks away. Still in the counselor’s shock, the psychiatrist has to get me to agree that if I don’t get this abortion I will commit suicide. “That’s right.”
The next morning at the clinic, trying to explain to the social worker I know exactly when “it” happened, I felt this rushing inside – seven weeks ago to the day. Clipboard in the air, she’s busy ignoring me.
“Date of last period?” she asks again. “But I know for a fact…”
She wasn’t interested. Nobody was interested. Everyone knew what you were here for. Enough said.
As the anesthetist, the only friendly face, counted me down, between my spread legs, which I held up in stirrups, I saw the doctor in the smock come through the swinging doors.
I woke up alone in a room, my insides feeling like I’d had seven periods in a row. My innamorato appeared. He couldn’t stay. He was having a drink with the ex-girlfriend. On the way down he would ask for some painkillers. Half an hour later, a single Disprin arrived in a steel Petri dish.
I had to cry a little.
It didn’t take long for the innamorato to disappear. I wasn’t having fun anymore. Why did I cry all the time? What was the damn thing?
I limped home. told no one. Not then.
Despite, absolutely 1,000 percent despite the misery, I’m so glad I had this abortion. I wasn’t able to have a baby. Just released from a convent boarding school and Dad dead, I was still pretty much a baby myself. I would have been a full blown mother disaster.
The crazy thing is the way the anti-abortion zealots operate in America, with a handful here too, you’d think, in abortions, two-year-olds were ripped from the bodies of terribly selfish 20-year-olds while they drank cocktails and Updating social media accounts.
In the 1970s, when abortion was completely illegal in America, a group of feminists banded together to help women whose only other option was a part-time job that often resulted in terrible bleeding, permanent uterine damage, and even death.
The sisters began performing abortions in their own homes with the help of an abortionist, holding the woman’s hand and explaining everything that was happening while extracting the beginnings of a pregnancy with a hollow tube attached to a refrigerator motor. It was so low key.
It’s easier today, but for religious zealots it seems more important than ever to say that abortion is terrible—that it means killing “children” who are already fluent in Latin, Greek, and advanced physics.
Not really true.
like dr Patricia Lohr of the British Pregnancy Advice Service said in the run-up to the repeal referendum, 92 per cent of abortions in the UK take place under 13 weeks, 81 per cent under 10, with just 1 per cent being performed after 20 weeks – usually for teenage girls who are too frightened and are too uneducated to get help earlier.
The rabid mothers, who are determined not to get pregnant, including rape victims and terrified teenagers, are pushing to have the baby and then have it adopted.
They go so far as to tell other people what to do.
It would be great if they only preached to their own tribe – but shockingly, as we were so brutally reminded last week, the Christian right has never been more powerful.
Roe v Wade is on the brink of being crushed in the US, collapsing decades of legal access to abortion for millions of women, while here in Ireland our Minister of Health, our Taoiseach and our Government are all at loggerheads to gift the new National Maternity Hospital , a state asset of 1 billion euros, to the “Sisters of Charity”. An asset over which the government has no control.
It would be ridiculous if it weren’t so awful.
Despite assurances from our Health Secretary that his ‘golden stake’ in St Vincent – we are in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory territory – means the women of Ireland will be protected, the fact is the hospital will be built on land , which belong to the Church. To my knowledge, nowhere in the world have abortions, “unnatural” contraceptive methods, IVF, vasectomies, or other procedures been performed in Catholic hospitals on Catholic land.
To me, government “assurances” are worthless unless the Sisters of Mercy and the Pope himself come out and say the new hospital will be the first and only such hospital in the world to be allowed to perform abortions and contraception.
Those unfamiliar with the interdependence of church and state in Ireland should know that it goes back a long way. Under colonialism, Catholicism became synonymous with nationalism. Parnell, on the verge of victory, offered control of health and education to the church in exchange for their support. The Church has never lost its grip since then.
We know the disasters that have sprung from the unlimited power given to nuns and friars over women and babies and little boys. The thousands of women who were destroyed, the babies killed, the boys raped and beaten senseless.
You would think it would make us hyperallergic to the church having any say in women’s health or education. Sadly no. Despite the fact that 67 per cent of the vote for repeal was a resounding YES, Irish politicians are still firmly tied to the church’s apron and seem happy to be kicking their constituents in the teeth.
Nobody says that an abortion is a piece of cake. Nobody. But what the majority of women and a great many men who voted YES say is that it is the woman’s choice. Providing legal and safe options, free from any religious interference, is part of a mature democracy. We want to banish the church from our bodies and our hospitals. We want the new National Maternity Hospital to be irrevocably secular. Irrevocably ours.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/maternity-hospital-must-belong-to-us-not-the-church-41626156.html The maternity hospital must belong to us – not to the church