AS Ireland moves closer to its much anticipated abortion referendum, those on both sides of the debate have become increasingly vocal about their thoughts on the historic vote and what it means for the nation.
This week one Irish Post reader wrote a letter outlining her thoughts on its importance, claiming the month of February is a particularly relevant month to welcome Ireland's potential move to Repeal the Eighth Amendment.
Lorraine Grimes, a historian based in Galway, claims it was St Brigid herself, whose feast day we celebrated on February 1, who performed Ireland's first recorded abortion - according to historic scriptures, and as so was one of the first to "help a woman in a difficult situation".
Read her letter below:
As we celebrated the first day of spring on February 1 we said goodbye to the cold dark evenings, we shook off those winter blues and we welcomed the flourishing of spring.
We also celebrated the feast of St. Brigid: patron saint for fertility, scholars, travellers, poets and children.
‘Brigid’ translates to ‘Fiery Arrow’ and a fiery woman she was.
Arranged to be married, she refused, and prayed that her beauty would be taken away from her so no man would want to marry her.
Embracing her independence, she became a nun working with the sick and poor.
She is claimed to have performed many miracles, the most interesting being the story of a young woman who had broken her vow of chastity and fell pregnant as a result.
“Brigid, exercising with the most strength of her ineffable faith, blessed her, caused the feotus to disappear without coming to birth, and without pain.”
In 650 AD, this is Ireland’s first recorded abortion.
Today, under Ireland’s current legislation, Brigid could face 14 years imprisonment for this. Researchers have found that in medieval Ireland abortion was practiced on a common basis and did not bear the stigma or repercussions of today’s society.
How times have changed! Women are noted to have created mixtures of herbs with the intent to cause miscarriages.
Women were, and always have been acquainted with reproductive choices regardless of legislation.
As the Eighth Amendment is currently being challenged, I look forward to the new season and the months ahead.
I hope that those women who have travelled or risked taking safe illegal pills in their bedrooms will no longer face the stigma and shame associated with reproductive choices in current day Ireland.
As we look towards a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment, the celebration of St Brigid is apt.
A Christian nun, who dedicated her life to caring to the sick and the poor, and who is noted to have helped a woman in a difficult situation.
Lorraine Grimes, Galway