ellinor

Written by Ellinor Bogen

“Coming from such a liberal country as Norway to conservative and religious
Ireland was slightly overwhelming, but also very interesting”

 

Last year I moved to Ireland. Ireland is a Catholic country with strict abortion laws and so women are only granted abortions in situations where the mother’s life is threatened, which after The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 also includes situations where the mother is likely to commit suicide. Coming from such a liberal country as Norway to conservative and religious Ireland was slightly overwhelming, but also very interesting.

When I told people I was moving to Ireland they tended to laugh seeing as I’m actively pro-choice and believe that women should have the right to make decisions concerning their own bodies and lives and that is in Ireland is seen as a controversial opinion so my plan was to keep quiet, but with my big mouth I should have known I wouldn’t succeed. It turned out discussing the issue with Irish people not only made me see how important it is to fight for women’s right to abortion, it also made me see how important the conflict between the pro-choice and pro-life movement is. Though I believe that religion has gone to far when it legitimates discrimination, the pro-life movement has brought some important issues into the abortion debate such as at what point of the pregnancy the fetus becomes viable. With medical advancements the age at which a fetus becomes viable will decrease and so the legal time limit of an abortion will have to keep changing to keep up with medicine.

Abortion is not only a religious conflict though. It is also a conflict between genders because strict abortion laws are discriminating against women. It is discrimination against women because not all women want children and forcing them to have children will be bad for both, the children and the mothers. Forcing women to go through with pregnancies resulting from rape is inhuman because rape is hard enough to live with without having to carry the evidence with you for 9 months. Society will benefit from women working and having unplanned and unwanted children could potentially keep women away from professional lives. All of the issues above are issues mainly concerning women and still the abortion debate is characterized by men even though none of them are in a position to relate to the women whose lives they are making decisions about. Of course it should not only be women debating the topic either, but it should be a debate where women’s needs is put first and this would be easier if the debate was characterized by women seeing as they know what they need best. Pregnancy can be dangerous in itself and criminalizing abortion will not stop women from having them – it will open the way for illegal and potentially dangerous abortions which no one benefits from.

My stay in Ireland didn’t change my opinion, I am still pro-choice, but seeing the conflict from a different perspective opened my mind, gave me more insight and now that I am able to see the conflict from both sides I am better equipped to argue my own opinion and see what is best not only for me, but for the majority.