The Eighth Amendment is not a ‘straight people’ problem, the same way HIV is not a ‘gay people’ problem. Framing abortion access as a ‘women’s issue’ is problematic, not only because it serves as a thinly-veiled attempt to trivialise the issue as a lesser one, but it also erases the experiences of pregnant people who do not identify as women yet may require access to abortion care. Cisgender heterosexual women are not the only people who can become pregnant. The Eighth Amendment affects everyone in Ireland who is or could become pregnant, and that includes over half of our LGBT+ community.
Abortions happen everyday in Ireland. Withholding abortion access does not eradicate the need for it. Many people acquire abortion pills illegally (risking a 14 year prison sentence), those who can get the money together access abortion services in the UK. The choice to have a legal termination in a different country is not a real choice. Punishing those who have no option but to self-induce abortions only fails those in need of care and ultimately criminalises poverty. Abortion is less of a ‘women’s issue’ as it is one centred on healthcare, economics, education and personal liberty.
Each of us LGBT+ folk, at some stage in our lives, have known what it is like to have to live in secrecy and lies. We have all carried a secret in our chests. We had to hide something that affects us so personally, the stigma attached to which alienated us from telling even our closest people for fear they might see us as monsters. We have known what it is to have shame forced upon us for our decisions, to feel unwelcome in our own country. We know firsthand that our right to choose how we use our bodies and how we live our lives should not depend on the religious beliefs of those we share our country with.
With the Marriage Referendum, we showed ourselves and our country that we not only exist, but that the Irish LGBT+ community are a powerful force for societal change. It is our duty to exercise this power now. We must add our voices to the conversation to ensure we shape the implementation of comprehensive and culturally sensitive reproductive healthcare for those within our LGBT+ community. Lastly, we must stand with our women nationwide. The women who fought with us, opening the hearts and minds that helped pave the way for Marriage Equality. The women whose battles for recognition and personal freedoms have long been intertwined with our own and no doubt will be again.
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- Abortion is not a ‘women’s issue’, it is our issue. - February 28, 2018