Why I’m Marching: 1992 and today

As we do every year, we’ve been asking you to tell us why you are marching in this year’s March for Choice. Thanks to all who have sent us your thoughts. In this post, Juno remembers protesting the X Case as a child in 1992, and how people are still let down every day as long as the Eighth Amendment stays in place. If you would like to tell us why you’re marching this year, please email hello@meathforchoice.ie

“In other words – he believed that the rights of the foetus were more important than those of the girl. I still shudder when I read those words – not least because he actually called her ‘the defendant’ –  a 14 year old girl who was the victim of a rape – as if she had done something wrong.”

I was 14 years old when I went to my first pro-choice protest. The protest I attended was in response to the X case; the case of a 14-year girl who had become pregnant as the result of rape and was being prevented by the state from traveling to the UK for an abortion. My mother took me. 

Justice [Declan] Costello ordered “that the right to life of the unborn child should not be interfered with and said that the defendant  must be restrained from leaving Ireland for a period of nine months. Although he did accept that the defendant was suicidal, he said the risk was not sufficient to override the right to life of the unborn.”

In other words – he believed that the rights of the foetus were more important than those of the girl. I still shudder when I read those words – not least because he actually called her “the defendant” –  a 14 year old girl who was the victim of a rape – as if she had done something wrong.

I am marching because 25 years on, nothing much has changed for girls and women, who, for WHATEVER reason, need to access abortion services. I have never needed an abortion, but I know many women who have, and I probably know more who have and haven’t spoken to me about it.

I have never wanted kids, and I don’t know what I would do if I became pregnant tomorrow. But whatever my decision would be – it should be just that – MY DECISION.

I am marching because I don’t believe it should be anybody else’s decision what a woman does with her body.

I am marching because I think it is barbaric that this state forces women to travel abroad for basic healthcare and because it insists on keeping its head in the sand about abortion. Irish women have abortions – just not in Ireland.

I am marching because I owe it to myself and the 12 women a day who are forced abroad in secret, and to those women who have been cut open against their will, those who have been allowed die in Irish hospitals, those who have been kept alive artificially because the foetus still had a heartbeat, those who have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act instead of being given an abortion, for the women whose pregnancies are not viable, for the many women and girls who can’t afford to travel, and for thousands of women and girls whose stories we will never hear.

I am marching because you can get a penalty of up to 14 years in prison for procuring or assisting in obtaining an abortion in Ireland.

I am marching because I believe we need to TRUST WOMEN to make decisions for ourselves about what happens to our bodies. – Juno, Dublin.

 

Image: March for Choice 2016. Credit: Renee Summers