Monday 23 October 2017

Courts should not decide complex abortion cases

The ability to terminate a pregnancy must be made available in line with best medical practice

PRO-CHOICE CAMPAIGN: Thousands of demonstrators make their feelings known at the recent Repeal the Eighth Amendment march at Merrion Square, Dublin. Photo: Gerry Mooney
PRO-CHOICE CAMPAIGN: Thousands of demonstrators make their feelings known at the recent Repeal the Eighth Amendment march at Merrion Square, Dublin. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Caoimhe Haughey

In 1983, I walked out of Mass announcing to my parents that I was not willing to listen to our parish priest lecturing me about abortion. My outburst didn't go down too well. I was so angry the Church believed it had the right to determine such a personal, sensitive issue for women and use the pulpit to frighten us. For me this wasn't about the teachings of the Catholic Church, it was about choice, my choice, "her choice". I was 13, attending the Dominicans in Sutton, indoctrinated to believe an unwanted pregnancy "would ruin my life", and I had vague notions about becoming a lawyer some day.

I grew up in that era of divisive bitter debate, multiple confusing, inconsistent and fragmented referendums, the tragic Ann Lovett case, the shocking X case and limited access to the contraceptive pill. My belief in my right of choice and bodily integrity became even more entrenched. I have always been pro choice and I have never been persuaded otherwise.

Thirty-five years later, a lot older and somewhat wiser, I understand now why my reaction back then was so heart, head and gut instinctive.

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