I Am Pro Choice. I Am Not Ashamed.

A year ago I would have labelled myself as pro life but that I supported abortion in certain circumstances or that I was a man so abortion was none of my business. Those were cop outs and I always knew it.

It has taken me a long time to come to terms with the truth that I am pro Choice and I am unashamedly so. I was always afraid to say it because of the nature of NI’s deeply conservative society and how it would reflect on my character. I am confident that I will be called a baby killer and other such nonsense by certain members of the pro life lobby or whoever else but that’s not a reason to not stand up for the rights of others.

Let me make one thing clear from the outset: I am not in favour of abortions. I believe that abortion should be a last resort for women but it should be a last resort that is available to them. Outlawing abortions on this island hasn’t stopped women having them. It has stopped them being carried out safely. Instead of being carried out in regulated clinics with clean utensils, trained and qualified doctors and nurses and appropriate and accessible after care, women are buying pills off the Internet or resorting to backstreet methods to have a termination.

Stopping something happening safely does not stop it happening. I can’t justifiably call myself a feminist or indeed someone who stands up for human rights if I don’t champion the right of a woman to choose. There is no middle ground here folks. You are either in favour of safe abortions or you are in favour of dangerous abortions happening out of sight. Vulnerable women never want to be in a position to have an abortion. Who would conceivably want to make that choice?

We as a society are failing women up and down this island by allowing men to dictate the rules of their reproductive health. I refuse to be told by emotional terrorists that those women are evil, that they are selfish and that they are making a mistake. I have found that more often than not the same people who are against abortion are also those who want to cut spending. Spending on things like health and education.  They want to make things like sex education in schools a taboo for fear that if young people learn about sex they might start having it, God forbid.

Newsflash: young people are already having sex. By failing to teach them how to do it safely we are perpetuating a cycle where unwanted pregnancies will continue to happen.

The same people are usually at the forefront of calling for a reduction in welfare spending, education spending and are often at the heart of efforts to dismantle public services and support networks for those young mothers. Unless you are willing to outlaw abortion but increase funding of sexual health education, family planning clinics, pre school places, reduce the cost of childcare, develop a network of support (both medical and financial) for young mothers and fathers then you aren’t pro life. Don’t dare call yourself pro life because what you are is Pro-birth (and usually at any cost).

I won’t be a part of that and I support efforts in the Republic of Ireland to repeal the 8th Amendment as well as efforts to change the law in Northern Ireland. How can we as a society stand over the needless death of Savita and call ourselves a modern country? Where we deny safe access to abortion because it makes us uncomfortable? Lots of choices that people make aren’t the ones that I would make but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have the option of making a choice that is right for them at that time.

I will never look a woman in the eye and tell her she can’t have an abortion because I, as a man, don’t agree with it. How dare I.

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