Reject overly simplistic narratives in abortion debate

Deciding what you support is a personal journey


Photo by Joe McCallion /Trinity News

I was supposed to write an article giving an argument to support the Repeal campaign. But I didn’t quite get there. I’m so aware of the diversity of opinions out there as, for many, it is highly emotive. It is a question of moral perspective, which an article by me isn’t going to change. I’m a scientist by training, and while I could try and link some biology facts to support Repeal arguments, I don’t think I will break any new ground.

So I’ll instead say that I think everyone, no matter which way they are currently inclined should open their mind and truly aim to listen. It is known that when we encounter opinions or facts which oppose our current worldview it provokes primal responses in the brain, which get in the way of us taking in information outside of our comfort zone. If you can make yourself aware of that and try to think everything through rationally. Get outside of what comes up on your social media feed; read diversely. Most importantly, listen to the lived experiences of women.

I realised a while back that I was living in somewhat of a “Repeal” bubble, having never read any material from opposing opinions. I decided to go online and read information on the Love the 8th websites and affiliated sites. The stories on these sites reaffirmed for me the suffering that women can encounter during pregnancy and it made me reconsider where I stood. I had not properly considered many things that the Love the 8th advocate for, including thorough counselling and adoption avenues. While these options are highly pertinent, in my eyes they don’t remove the need for abortion in the many different, difficult scenarios women face.

As a friend pointed out to me this week too, we should remember that Repeal doesn’t actually legislate for abortion. It just eliminates the constitutional amendment which makes almost all abortion currently illegal. The debate for what it should be replaced with exactly will be considered separately to the actual need to Repeal.

I should also say that many women who support Repeal, while wanting to get abortion access for all women, we wouldn’t necessarily use the option ourselves. It doesn’t mean we don’t feel for children, babies, or foetuses, it just means that we see the medical need for abortions based on the suffering documented by many Irish women, past and present.

Lastly it is also important to remember that many women from Ireland do get abortions. But they are the ones who can afford to travel to England and to pay for the procedure. If we do Repeal and legislate for abortion in whatever circumstances, it will be women on lower incomes who will really feel the difference.

While I want to see Ireland vote for Repeal, I respect everyone’s views. This is a decision that each of us must arrive at personally, weighing up our own life experience with the evidence and opinions around us. Many of our politicians have only recently made public their own personal opinions. They, and we, are all entitled to our individual beliefs on this issue, but I urge everyone to carefully weigh up the wide spectrum of opinions, beliefs, facts, and statistics before arriving at a conclusion.

Maeve McCann

Maeve McCann is a former Deputy SciTech Editor of Trinity News.