Why we must stick to the facts as Ireland's abortion referendum draws near

Why we must stick to the facts as Ireland's abortion referendum draws near

BEFORE we moved to Ireland we were living and working in London.

My wife was six months pregnant when we came over with just a vague offer of employment and a last minute rented property.

It wasn’t the most well thought out of moves, being more of an emotional leap than anything.

Yet, we had been together a good while and we were stable and we were beside ourselves with excitement about our unplanned pregnancy.

Giddy and daunted but overjoyed by the thought of this first child.

Going through the early scans and appointments in London we were offered tests that would have revealed if there was any abnormality.

We would then, presumably, have been free to choose what to do about the pregnancy.

We never had any of those tests and when we discussed it we couldn’t imagine a situation in which we would have chosen to end the pregnancy with an abortion.

I still can’t see how abortion would have been a choice for us.

Which is one of the reasons why I’ll be voting Yes to repeal the Eighth.

As you might imagine there are a number of debates and discussions taking place at the moment with regards to the upcoming Referendum.

And I’m trying to listen to as many of them as possible.

This, after all, is unlike most other political issues, it is emotional and deeply, deeply, heartfelt.

This is no bells and whistles time, this isn’t like the marriage referendum, this is no outpouring of joyous love.

This is a hard, difficult, tough subject.

But I have to openly say that I have been deeply unimpressed by the No side.

As I write this there are posters on lampposts stating that one in five pregnancies in the UK end in abortion. This is a highly, highly, questionable statistic.

It does not, for instance, take in to account miscarriages.

But, hey, we live in a post-truth world now, don’t we?

What use are facts against emotion?

Recently, on RTE radio, the businessman and entrepreneur Declan Ganley spoke for the No side and, again, he was deeply unimpressive.

He told a tale about his wife and himself being offered an abortion in response to a possible disability.

On the basis of their refusal he seemed unable to comprehend somebody else being in a different position, facing a completely different set of circumstances.

He then, whilst sidestepping questions about rape and abuse, resorted to suggesting that the provision in the changes to abortion rights here that mention an assessment by two medical personnel might not even mean doctors.

That is, I presume, that it might mean a dentist, a first year nurse or a sports physiotherapist.

Again, what use facts, if you can spread emotive falsehoods.

Which is a shame because there are clearly people on the No side of deep, convinced integrity.

I disagree with them but I respect their position.

On this subject of all subjects I deeply respect those who hold an opposing opinion to my own.

I believe they are wrong but I understand why they believe what they believe.

You have to though, in dealing with any subject, respect the topic enough to bring facts to the table, to deal in as close to the truth as possible.

That is the only way we can make proper decisions.

So the truth is we already have abortion in this country.

It is just that we make sure it takes place in Liverpool or in lonely bathrooms with something ordered over the internet.

If we decide to provide abortion here, become a mature, honest country, we will at last be treating those women on their way to Liverpool or panicking on their own, more humanely.

We will merely be dealing with what already happens.

Hiding things away is what we did in the past.

Let’s stop doing it now.

Let us, in fact, just trust women to make decisions over their own bodies because I don’t believe for one minute there are hordes of women who are going to make a decision like this laughingly or merely for the sake of convenience.

By voting Yes we will be simply voting for a humane response to an indescribably difficult situation.

I’m a father of three and I still can’t imagine a set of circumstances that would have made us terminate any of our pregnancies.

But my failure of imagination is just that. It is a failure.

I can’t really imagine the difficulties some people face, the ordeals they go through, but I’d like to be part of a society that does and that helps them deal with it in the most humane possible way.

Which is why I have to vote Yes to repeal of the Eighth.