Repeal the 8th
Even though I have a degree in political science I really try to avoid talking about anything that had to do with politics with most people as much as I possibly can. However, in January something happened on the @Ireland Twitter account that I was not able to ignore or keep my mouth shut about.
I do not follow this Twitter account. I did follow at one point, but I found myself bored with the curators, so I simply clicked unfollow and that was that. Side note – please unfollow people and accounts you don’t like! I hate when people complain about a person or account but continue to follow. The unfollow button is there for a reason.
ANYWAY, back to my original reason for this. If you do follow this Twitter, you might know there was a bit of drama on the account back in January of this year. The way the account works is that Irish living in Ireland or abroad and people living in Ireland can apply to run the account for the week. I don’t know the full history of the account but from what I can gather it seems that it was started to share different ‘voices’ of Ireland. From my experience, it also seemed that if the person running the account have a topic/organization/issue they are passionate about or want to raise awareness about, they can do so.
With me still? Great. Well, an American girl claiming to visit Ireland to see her Irish boyfriend and to travel around curated the account. She said she applied to curate the account to share her first-time experience in Ireland. I found her annoying day one and I also didn’t like that a tourist would be running the account. I love to hear the voices of Irish people in Ireland and abroad and others, who like me, have made Ireland their home. I also did not agree with letting a tourist take over the account but that isn’t the point. Add all this together with the fact that I was already slightly over the account, I unfollowed it. Man, did I pick the worst week to unfollow.
Now, I am not going to name and shame this girl because she made herself known and at the end of the day, I am not writing this to discuss her. I am writing this to discuss a couple of things, but she is not one of them. I will say this though – as Americans we tend to stick our noses where they don’t belong. This girl (and many other people/groups throughout American history!) loudly and proudly shared her opinion on an issue that has no effect on her in a country she does not live in. I may not agree with her opinion but what it seemed from everyone who got involved in the discussion once she left the account could agree on was that she was not upfront about her intentions for using the account (or her intentions for being in the country in general – to campaign against the Repeal movement), and that was what truly upset people.
With all that said, I live in Ireland full-time and this referendum could ultimately affect me. I am woman and as far as I know, I can have children. Please let me make myself clear here - I am speaking for myself and no one else in writing this. The fiasco on Twitter really made me sit down and think about my opinion on my stance on access to abortion in Ireland. As embarrassing as this is to admit, but because I have never needed this service, it was not something I gave much thought to before. Then I am conflicted - am I allowed to have an opinion on something I can’t vote on? Am I being typically American and sticking my nose in where it doesn’t belong? I don’t think I am. I have lived in this country for nearly 4 years now. I have woman friends in this country who are Irish and many other nationalities. As women living here, I think we are all entitled to an opinion on the subject, because when all is said and done, it affects us all.
At the end of the day, I don’t think that anyone wants to have an abortion, but realistically it is a medical procedure that some women will need access to. I hope I am never in the position of needing an abortion, but, if I did find myself in the position, it would be more comforting to have a procedure done where I live, not to mention save a lot of money on travel/accommodation. If I were to need access to an abortion, I would like to have it in Dublin, not the U.K. Unfortunately, on average, 12 women will have an abortion every single day, and I am willing to bet that the 9 who travel to the U.K. would much prefer to be at home in Ireland.
I know this is long, but it is a topic that is too important to ignore. I am really stuck between a rock and a hard place here because while I live, work, and pay taxes in Ireland, I am not a citizen and therefore I cannot vote. The laws here apply to me, but I have no say in them. This referendum could (or might have already) impact your mom, sister, aunt, friend, coworker, daughter – the list goes on. So, while you may think ‘This doesn’t affect me’ (I’m looking at you, lads!), it does. If you have any women in your life that are Irish citizens or live in Ireland, this referendum affects them directly.
Most of the readers of this blog are in Ireland so I want to stress that if you have the right to vote in Ireland, please exercise it. I was upset when I could not vote for marriage equality in 2015 and it saddens me that I cannot vote to Repeal the 8th now. So, if you can vote, please please please do! All the women in your life in Ireland need you to do so. Especially if you’re a lad, please don’t sit this out thinking this has no effect on you. If you have any women family members or have sex with women, this affects you too.
It is not an easy topic to discuss, but it is one we can’t ignore. You may not agree with this, or you may think it won’t affect you, but you should not get to decide for a woman what is best for her. Only she can do that. I trust women, especially the women of Ireland, to make the best choices for themselves, and believe that you should too.
INFORMATION ON VOTER REGISTRATION:
To make sure you are on the Register click here.
If you can’t find your name, download the RFA2 form, fill it out, and send it to your local council.
The deadline to register to vote in the upcoming referendum is May 8th, but forms must be posted by May 4th.
One more thing! REMEMBER: Remove all campaign paraphernalia when going to the polling station.