Ariana Dunne, the CCO here at SHEmazing HQ, has shared her thoughts on the upcoming referendum.
Holding the leaflets in our hands sitting on the steps of Easons on Middle Abbey Street my friend and I cried as our teenage brains failed to comprehend how anyone could murder an innocent baby. The pamphlet we held contained a no holds barred image of a torn and tattered foetus, handed to us by a posse of anti-abortion protestors pitched up with placards outside the GPO.
This was 1996, four years after the failed referendum of 1992 and 6 years before the 2002 attempt. So the reason for this protest was, I can only imagine, to cause controversy, spark debate and shame those who had, or who were considering a termination.
As a 15 year old who’s virginity was still intact I vowed that day that I would never under any circumstances have an abortion. With the distressing images ingrained in my brain I was sure in my conviction that abortion was an abomination and should never be legalised in Ireland.
Fast forward four years and I’m crying again. ‘Don’t worry I’m sure it will be fine’ my friend reassured me as I relayed what had happened the previous evening. A romantic dalliance with a man I barely knew, a split condom, a swift departure and me left to pick up the pieces of all the fears that come with unprotected sex.
Though of course the fear that held precedence was that I may be pregnant with a baby I neither wanted nor was prepared for in any way shape or form. I was in college with a degree forming in my brain while a potential baby formed in my belly and there was simply not enough room inside my body for both to flourish. I had a career planned out, dreams of a life that involved travel and fun and freedom.
I made an appointment with an emergency doctor, my friend drove me to the clinic, pale faced and shame faced I sat before a stern unkindly doctor feeling judged for my inability to prevent a thin film of rubber from breaking on an appendage that wasn’t even my own.
He prescribed a pill that I had 72 hours to source, pay for and consume in the hopes that I would not face impending motherhood.
My emergency doctor’s appointment had already set me back €80 and I then had a terrifying few days to wait before I could take a viable pregnancy test. My mind raced, recalling from its depths the leaflet I had seen as a teen, but my outrage had shifted.
How dare those people inflict such horrendous imagery on a young innocent. If I was pregnant now there was no doubt I would be on the first boat over to England. Of course I would. I was not fit to be a mother to an innocent baby at this stage in my life, I could barely fathom how I would cobble the fare and the cost of the procedure let alone afford the ongoing cost of an actual living human being.
Thankfully the absence of a single blue line on the pregnancy test I had shamefully bought and secreted away in my handbag from a pharmacy where no one would possibly know me confirmed that on this occasion a pregnancy had not occurred. The relief that swept over me was palpable.
But I was the lucky one and I knew that. So many before and after me have had the dilemma firmly placed in their laps. A lap that then bares the weight of guilt or the weight of a bouncing baby depending on the choice that is bravely made by my sisterhood.
That’s the crux.
The choices we make.
Fast forward 16 years and I’m now a 35 year old single career woman. A title which seemingly casts me as the wicked witch in this abortion referendum, even by the Yes voters. Articles I’ve read compare the innocent 16 year old who finds herself pregnant with the evil 30 something ‘career’ woman who’s lack of supposed vulnerability inhibits her from making a ‘choice’ we can all agree with.
But in all honestly as my 36th year looms my biological clock ticks louder by the minute. The truth is I have never once seen a double blue line on a pregnancy test and I have taken more than a few throughout the years of sexual accidents and mishaps.
My sacrificial journey to the UK never had to happen. For this I am grateful, but now I also lament the fact that the pregnancy I had always feared never actually happened. If I had a mishap now, single and all that I am, I would not make that fateful lonely journey and I would now choose to keep the baby and do my best to raise a happy child on my own.
In fact if in two years I have still have not found someone to share my life with I will have a child on my own with the help of fertility clinics. If the universe is willing of course. And I will no doubt face judgement with regard to that choice too.
Over my life I have had many choices. I chose to be anti abortion, then I was pro and now I just want everyone to be happy with whatever choices they make with regards to bringing a new life into this world or not as the case may be.
For me on May 25th I will vote. A privilege in itself.
And I will choose choice.
Don't forget to check the register, and use your vote on May 25th.