Why I’m voting Yes on May 25th

<This piece featured in the Limerick Post Newspaper out 24th May 2018>

I have no doubt that voting yes is what Ireland needs to make it a safer place for women. I grew up in a Catholic home and my mother has particularly strong faith but she also taught me great empathy and compassion and these inform my decision.

We need bodily autonomy in pregnancy for Irish women. We need healthcare professionals to be able to do their job without the Eight Amendment meaning doctors consult lawyers before making decisions on women’s health.

I want this for my daughter so that she will never have to suffer because of it, for my nieces, for my friends, for every woman I know, and every Irish woman. It took us 35 years to have another referendum on abortion; we can’t let the next generation suffer too.

Nobody ever wants an abortion, but sometimes it is needed. That is the harsh reality. Ireland already has abortion, it’s now time to take our heads out of the sand and acknowledge this, and recognise that we can’t export the issue any longer. We need to manage it on our own terms, under our own strict controls, instead of using the UK system.

Nine women travel to the UK each day to undergo terminations, another three at least receive abortion pills in the post and take them without medical supervision making it highly dangerous, not to mention illegal and punishable by 14 years in prison. If we don’t remove the Eight Amendment now, this will continue.

My heart breaks for those who have shared stories of fatal foetal anomalies, for those two women every week who have to travel for care at such a tragic time for their families. I believe Ireland is failing these people and I’m embarrassed because of it.

Cases of rape and incest are unquestionably appalling and still we can’t look after these women, I am sorry our country has let you down in your hour of need. I am sorry for all women who have found themselves with a crisis pregnancy.

I want Ireland to trust women to make our own decisions about our healthcare and our lives. You don’t have to agree with abortion to vote yes – it is about voting to give women choice. This will offer proper care and safety, and it will mean we are no longer turning our backs and pretending this isn’t happening.

By Olivia O’Sullivan