independent

Friday 20 October 2017

Lingering ambiguity about abortion

DEBORAH COLEMAN

HAVING LISTENED this week, to the heartbreaking stories of mothers forced out of Ireland for medical abortions I am at a loss to understand how anyone could think it acceptable that others would ever have to go through the same ordeal.

Last week's private members' bill in Dáil Éireann was defeated on the basis of legal shortcomings but there seems to be little indication of when the required amendments might be made to end this suffering.

When it comes to the ever so emotive issue of abortion there are still many people in Ireland who would love to believe that the matter is black and white and rush to attack any woman who chooses this option.

There is still an overwhelming 'not in my back yard' attitude which reeks of ignorance and lack of understanding. Whether it is for medical reasons or otherwise they are portrayed as selfish, un- Christian and downright cruel and for some, keeping Ireland an abortion-free zone is paramount to maintaining the wholesome Irish image.

By sending these women abroad for medical terminations we are insinuating they are doing something wrong and surreptitious. Rather than offering them adequate support we turn our backs on them and send them off to another country to do the deed which creates shame, embarrassment and stigma.

We are not talking about a rash decision which sees abortion used as a method of contraception. We are talking about a medical procedure that is required on foot of professional consultation following the devastating realisation that a baby will never survive.

As if the expectant mother hasn't already been through enough then their own country forces them to board a plane to get the required care.

There is a lingering ambiguity in society about abortion in general. People have an image that only what they deem silly, promiscuous girls are the ones in need of it. The scathing judgement on women who have an unplanned pregnancy and are in need of abortion is also a huge part of the problem.

The comments of Michelle Mulherin TD about 'fornication' in recent days only serve to illustrate this.

Having listened to what these women who chose to identify themselves, such is the importance of the issue, have had to say this week, one would hope that the distinction has been clearly made between medical and what are deemed 'social' abortions.

If their emotional and eloquent explanations of their reasons for travelling to the UK and the impact it has had on their lives doesn't enlighten the ignorant then I don't know what will.

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