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Lynda McCarthy: Our fight for abortion rights will go global

NewsBy Lynda McCarthy
We are Irish and when we asked for leadership, you gave none, and now we’re done asking, we’re demanding
We are Irish and when we asked for leadership, you gave none, and now we’re done asking, we’re demanding

WE ARE Irish and the whole world cheerfully tries to claim our heritage as their own, and why wouldn’t they?

We are Irish and you cannot claim Saoirse Ronan or Katie Taylor, Britain – they’re ours, thank you very much. 

We are Irish, and in the four corners of the earth, they have bars and parades to celebrate us, they dye their rivers green in solidarity on Saint Patrick’s Day. 

We are Irish and our literature, poetry and music is read, recited and sang in countries that many of us will never even visit. We are Ireland, a tiny island making waves the whole world over.

But we’re Irish, and every day we send our women off on ferries and planes for a medical procedure that could be done at home. 

We’re Irish and we leave our sisters, our friends, our daughters, scared and alone in budget hotel rooms in London, Luton and Liverpool, because exporting a problem across the water is easier than dealing with it ourselves.

We are Irish and you, the government we elected, have ignored our pleas to repeal the Eighth Amendment, using every delaying tactic in your arsenal so that 2018 is the “earliest” you can possibly get around to holding a referendum on the issue. 

We are Irish and between that time and now, over 4,000 of our own will have travelled over to England for abortions.

We are Irish and we have allowed a grieving couple to carry the remains of a foetus with fatal abnormalities home from the airport in a freezer bag because they were given no options here.

We’re Irish and we tell pregnant victims of rape and incest that they are not our priority; that you, our government, would prefer them staining their pillows black with mascara tears on foreign soil, once it doesn’t require you to make a decision that might cost you a few votes.

We are Irish and our laws make criminals of women who try to buy abortion pills, ignoring the fact that abortions have always happened and will always happen, whether you agree with them or not.

But we are Irish and you should certainly not underestimate us. We are Irish and we were the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage by popular vote. 

We are Irish and we marched and protested and won equal rights for our gay citizens, and we will win the right to choose for our women.

We are Irish but we will turn this into an international issue, we will take this fight to the world stage and shame you into giving bodily autonomy to women if necessary.

We are Irish and we will use the same voices that brought literature and poetry and music to the rest of the world to shout this injustice from the rooftops.

We are Irish and we will not be silenced, we have marched and we will march, we will write and protest, and we will remember at the next ballot, and every ballot thereafter, that when we asked for change, for choice, you ignored us.

We are Irish and when we asked for leadership, you gave none, and now we’re done asking, we’re demanding.  

I am Irish and I am adding my voice to the cacophony of voices that have come before me to say: this is not good enough.

We’re Irish and we deserve a choice.

Lynda