I don’t know how such an important issue has managed to pass them by and I’m a bit disappointed. My male friends and thousands of other Irish men have simply ignored the real life stories of the women and their partners who’ve had to travel to the UK and further a field for a medical termination of pregnancy.
I know some of my male friends have seen the ‘No’ posters and have concluded this referendum is about babies, they’re simply not aware it’s a referendum about women’s rights and consequently the greater freedom of the Irish people (both women and men).
Amidst the struggle with trying to inspire some of my male friends to vote, and quite frankly to vote ‘Yes’ I came across a wonderful post by Áine Mulloy (@AineMulloy ) called ‘Where Are The Men in The Fight to Repeal’. This is a shortened version of her post but follow the link for the full story:
I know many guys who are pro-choice. Sometimes they are vocal about it, but often only when asked. When it comes to social media, encouraging people to vote, sharing content, or marching they are notable by their absence. Now that’s not to say that all men are like this (#notallmen) but it’s noticeable. It’s clear there’s a sense that this is a women’s issue, a thought piece, some abstract notion that doesn’t impact men, and therefore it’s not their place. And this is a problem. In order for the 8th to be repealed, we need the support of men.
When writing this piece, I reached out to several men – but only one replied. Writer and weekly columnist with avondhupress.ie, Donal O’Keeffe shared some of my same observations. “A recurring comment I’ve heard from a couple of men is that the Eighth Amendment doesn’t affect men, and therefore men shouldn’t have a say in the upcoming referendum. I understand the point they’re making, but with respect, that’s like saying heterosexuals should have abstained from voting in the marriage equality referendum. That’s not the way democracy works, lads, and it’s not the way universal suffrage works either.”
And this seems to be the problem. There is a disconnect. In many ways men aren’t directly impacted, so it’s merely something to be thought about and cast aside. It’s not a constant lurking weight hanging over their heads.
This may seem dramatic, but it’s not. Ask around. Ask the women that you are friends with how they’d feel if faced with an unplanned pregnancy. It’s a topic that’s constantly discussed by women, as we know we’d bear the brunt. Women are the ones who are questioned by pharmacists, and doctors. Women shell out for pills, and implants, and coils, and whatever else.
Our bodies get poked and prodded; our consent can be stripped by the State. Medical information withheld and blatant lies told to our faces. We’re the ones who stress after every encounter. Meanwhile the 8th does impact us all. There’s a very real imbalance at play here. The worst part is that this imbalance is enshrined in law.
There needs to be an acknowledgement from everyone that it’s not up to the constitution to decide what happens to another person when they seek healthcare. Staying silent on this issue, or worse, not voting on the issue asserts that you are happy to be stripping people of the power to make decisions about their own healthcare. This might seem harsh, or unfair, but it’s true. By staying silent you are effectively supporting the status quo. The status quo is dangerous.
You don’t need to be pro-abortion, to be pro-choice. And the 8th doesn’t just impact on access to abortion. It’s much wider than that. If we want people to be able to be actively involved in their own healthcare, and for healthcare professionals to be able to do their jobs safely then we need the 8th Amendment to be repealed. In order to do that, we need the voices of men alongside the voices of women.
Repeal the Eighth.
Áine Mulloy is a co-founder of GirlCrew, she has some great posts about Repeal on her site which are well worth checking out, and since sharing this she has also written another great follow up post called ‘An Open Letter to Undecided Men – and Those Voting No’.