20th September 2016 Helen 0Comment

I like numbers – they make sense of things for me.  They show the truth about how things are.  Presented plain and simple they tell no lies – that part comes later when they are wrapped up in words.

So here are a few numbers for you….

Over the last 35 years, over 166,000 women have travelled from Ireland to access abortion services abroad.  That’s roughly equivalent to the combined population of of the cities of Waterford and Cork.

Today, like yesterday and the day before, more than 9 women left this Country to access abortion services.

Today, like yesterday and the day before, other Irish women purchased the abortion pill over the web and self-administered an abortion without any medical supervision and with the real risk that – if caught, they could spend up to 14 years in prison.

Tomorrow, will be same.  And there is no reason to believe the day after will be any better.

There are no simple answers. It would of course be better if every abortion could be avoided – if contraception was 100% reliable; if babies were always healthy; if women were never raped or abused; if all pregnancies were planned.  But holding on to an illusion of a perfect world to refuse help for those in the midst of a crisis pregnancy is tantamount to standing in A&E and refusing treatment for a person with a broken leg on the premise that they should have been more careful in the first place. There are no simple answers yes – but there is one simple truth: women must be trusted to decide for themselves.

And in the meantime what do the numbers tell us? They plainly show that Ireland has a substantial population of women who chose to end a pregnancy – women who were only glad that a neighbouring state showed them the kindness, compassion and respect to exercise their freedom to choose.  They plainly show that Ireland has a population of women who pay their taxes, contribute to the communities and societies, go about their daily lives obeying the laws of the Country – and yet risk a prison sentence simply because they choose – for their own reasons, not to carry on with a pregnancy.  The numbers plainly show that Ireland is home to this population of women and they are not monsters or murderers – they are our mothers, our sisters, our friends, our family, our colleagues, and our children.

The numbers tell the real story. They show us that we have failed today’s women, just like we failed yesterday’s and just like we will fail tomorrow’s.  But we can fix what is broken.

On Saturday we – you, can stand up and March for Choice.  You can walk and raise your voice to start to change what is wrong.  You can demand that every women is allowed to exercise control over her own body – even if that is a decision you would not make for yourself.  You can tell Ireland’s women that you trust them to know what is best for themselves, their bodies, their lives.

You can stand up and be counted. Right there with the rest of us.

The 5th Annual March for Choice takes place on Saturday the 24th of September 2016, assembling at the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square, Dublin 1 from 1.30pm before marching to Dáil Éireann at 2pm. See more at: http://www.abortionrightscampaign.ie/2016/08/02/rise-and-repeal-march-for-choice-2016/#sthash.hxL2reKd.dpuf

I am proud to be a member of Parents for Choice.  To read more about  the issues around reproductive freedom and to get involved in the movement to repeal the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution head over to http://parentsforchoice.ie/, and feel free to get involved.

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