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The Eighth…if you’re on the fence please consider this

May 7, 2018

The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution was added in 1983.

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

In a ludicrous adjustment to reflect reality, a provision was passed in 1992

Since the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment (Travel), the right to travel for an abortion has had constitutional protection.

Hence only women of means have a right to choose. On 25 May 18 we’ll be asked to change this.

I won’t ask why you’re on the fence. I respect your right to an anti-choice view. I do not, however, consider you pro-life. Because you see, I am for choice and pro-life.  I steadfastly believe that every child should be a wanted child, welcomed into this world by one or two loving parents who can and will provide a safe and nurturing environment.

I respect and will protect your right to believe life begins at conception. I would never support legislation to force you to use contraception or to terminate a pregnancy.

I’d ask you to consider only the compassion in which my passion is grounded.

I’m passionate about this because I, among millions of others, grew up with an unfortunate message:

I’d have been better off if you’d never been born

as I heard it – or in the versions of the message countless others heard:

I curse the day I met your mother/father…

If abortion had been legal…

What becomes of these children who “should never have been born”?

Some of us make it. After decades’ long journeys of hopelessness, depression, addiction and despair.

Many don’t. It is to them that I dedicate my efforts to see that the 8th Amendment is repealed.

The anti-choice people will tell you that they are the disabled who will be aborted. And yet, disability groups in Ireland have asked them to stop using their children as an excuse. Most disabilities won’t be identified by 12 weeks. Please work on legislation to protect the disabled children of your concern. I will support your efforts.

I will tell you there are many more otherwise able-bodied children born, whose lives and potential were undermined by being unwanted, unaffordable or simply born to parents who were too young.

I’ve met many.

Those in addiction treatment centres and 12 Step rooms where substance abuse is little more than numbing the pain of being unloved. Never having experienced that unmitigated love of parents – many addicts believe themselves to be unloveable and unworthy of life. Carers and partners may try, but that earliest rejection is not easily overcome.

Those who gave up and finally completed suicide attempts. Consider the expression – the light at the end of the tunnel. The experience in a cocoon of utter and complete parental care – is the first ‘light’ humans experience at the end of the tunnel that is birth.  Unwanted, unloved newborns instinctively can’t trust that there ever will be a ‘light’ at the end of any tunnel.

To the very young offenders I have met, born to very young parents.A few will have turned their lives around. Many will not. Sixty percent of their children can be expected to offend. That’s a lot of knock-on pain for families and communities.

I am grateful to the many who were born unwanted, wounded or not, and who have enriched my life in my experience of having known them.  I a defer to the words of John’s Hopkins University Professor of Psychiatry and author Kay Redfield Jamison. In an interview about her book on her own experience of manic depressive illness  An Unquiet Mind, A Memoir of Moods and Madness,  she shared and I paraphrase from memory, that

while there were times in my life that I was suicidal, I never ‘wished I’d never been born’

I share her sentiment, on my own and my brother’s behalf. I loved him and he enriched my life. And yes we were wounded by my mother’s sentiment, regularly.

Our experience went on to inform my choice in 1972 when, availing of the change in New York State’s abortion law, I terminated an unplanned pregnancy. Absent the law, I’d have sought an illegal abortion as did many of my older friends, one of whom died.

I chose, not without regret, not without prayer, but with the conviction that I would never bring a child into the world who would not be the ‘light of the world’ he or she was entering.

Nearly half a century later I pray for that lost soul and celebrate the lives of the three well-enough loved, well provided for and entirely wanted, planned and celebrated children I went on to rear.

Let God judge me. Let women in crisis choose and let their higher power judge them.

And let us all remember:

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 

Matthew 5:7











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