Thank you for reading… as articulate writers and friends I have been following your postings over the last while to explore and inhabit the perspective of those not voting Yes.
And to be perfectly honest, I echo with the foundations of a lot of what you say. I know we share an underlying appreciation for the sacredness of the human life. Your tender care for the ‘alive before birth’ – a beautiful term from our indigenous language brought to my attention by a respected friend who I know is not voting Yes – is to be admired. As one who walks the shamanic way of our native culture, I resonate hugely.
Where I diverge is in the principle of impressing my personally held beliefs into others’ lives and denying them the sovereignty of what to do with whatever beliefs or principles that they choose to hold.
It is not my role, nor the Constitution’s role, to tell others how to put principles into practice. That is for every citizen to do for themselves.
For so long, the Catholic Church held chokehold over the minutiae of how Irish citizens put their beliefs into practice. With the demise of the Church, a huge void is opening up in society as people struggle to find their way without the overarching guidance and, indeed, support and community that the Church provided to people and families. But that connection to the Church came at such a cost – individuals’ sovereignty, speaking truth without shame, women’s rights, feminine cultural values and ultimately, the individuals’ capacity for self determination and self realisation. It seems like Repealing the 8th Amendment is another nudge towards returning sovereignty to the individual, and critically now, to women.
I appreciate that there is a conflict in looking at how to uphold the sovereignty of the unborn as separate from the mother but unfortunately there is no answer that does not involve deep sadness, compassion and loss. This conflict is real. Up to now, the hierarchy has sat with the Church and State as they have denied women’s rights and shamed women’s voices right across our culture. However the fact stands that it is the woman who is pregnant and therefore it is her body inside which the right is held. There is simply no way around that.
Repealing the 8th does not immediately make abortion legal, that is for the legislature to detail out and the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act will still exist after the Referendum, whatever happens. Repealing the 8th will simply remove from our Constitution, the State’s influence of HOW to put personal principles into practice. To interfere with how women, doctors, health worker, those of all faiths, beliefs and those of none are to care and be cared for during pregnancy is not the role of a Constitution in a free and evolving country and one that says in its Constitutional Preamble “the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured”.
I share your care of the sacredness of life in all stages of consciousness and unconciousness, it is just not my place, nor the Constitution’s, to impose so forcefully on the decisions and experiences of a woman’s intimate journey as she moves these life stages herself.