say it out loud: feminism and equality

‘I’m not a feminist,’ says Laura Waters, in her Guardian column about women in science. ‘I’m an ‘equalist’.’

In doing so, she resurrects a tedious semantic argument, and one that’s been fought on many shores before now. Waters contends that she is “fully devoted to promoting science to women as a great career choice and [that she] honestly believe[s] we need more women at all levels in science.” She wants to “ensur[e] women actively choose to stay in science and climb the promotional ladder.” She mentions positively the Athena SWAN programme – which gives praise and status to institutions that actively work to promote equal treatment for women in academia.

I’m sorry to break it to her, but that’s a feminist viewpoint. That’s an entirely feminist argument. If she wants it from a better source than me – it’s exactly the feminist argument I heard Jocelyn Bell Burnell give at WITS a couple of weeks ago.

I have no problems with Waters’ viewpoint. It’s one I espouse myself (any reader of this blog will know that). My problem is with her denial of feminism.

I’m a feminist because I believe in equality. Equality is – for the most part – the primary role of practical feminism. Currently society does not view women as being the equals of men. There’s a gap there that needs filling, and feminism works to boost women’s role in society to fill that gap. It’s not inherently anti-men to be pro-women; it’s not anti-equality to say that one group needs more support.

Imagine a bar chart of the gender pay gap. For every euro Irish men earn, Irish women earn 13.9% less (Irish Examiner, Feb 2013). Parity in the hourly wage – the value of an hour’s work – would have men with 100%, and women with 100%. At the minute, men have 100%, and women have just over 86%. Clearly that’s inequal. To make it equal, you have to close that gap – and you do that by helping women, because women are the group that’s worse off in that situation.

Equalism? Sure. Through feminism.

Waters wants academia to be fairer to women. Women need more help than men do to fulfil their academic potential, because currently the power bias in the institutions of academia swings heavily toward men. What do we do? Make things fairer for women. Use Athena SWAN to reward institutions that reward women. Understand that family structures still involve more women than men doing part-time or awkward hours in order to be around for the kids, and accommodate that. Give positive female role models to young women in STEM careers.

I’m almost reciting Waters’ points here, which is actually the key to what I’m saying: this is a feminist argument.

Why disavow feminism? It feels like internalised misogyny to me**. It’s not lesser to be a woman, and it’s not lesser to be a feminist. Throwing your lot in with the boys may get you approval at the time, but in reality you’re cheerily standing over the status quo while inequality happens all around you.

Feminism is the reason you have a job in academia. Feminism is the reason you get to have an opinion and have it out loud. Feminism is the reason programmes like Athena SWAN happen, and feminism is the reason that it’s recognised that the sciences should be more welcoming to women. We are where we are because of feminists, and sniffily casting that aside and pretending you’re more advanced, somehow, is disrespectful to their work and their sacrifices.

No-one is saying that scientific output should be judged separately depending on its author’s gender. No-one is saying that an institution should seek a candidate of a particular gender rather than a candidate who’s best for the job. What feminism asks is that a women who reads the jobs posting should feel as able as a man to apply, or that a woman offered a job should feel comfortable and respected in accepting the place.

I believe in equality. I think a just society would offer the same chance to everyone. Feminism wants that full and fair chance for women.

Be proud to be a feminist! Feminism is the path to equality. We have lots of work to do.

** please note that I say this in reference to mainstream feminism, and women who disavow the label totally. I’m not referring to women who choose to use a different term for ‘believes in women’s rights’, like ‘womanist’, because of minority status or perceived disrespect by mainstream feminism. That’s a matter beyond the scope of this post.

“HORRIFIC” – an anti-choice blight on Dublin’s streets

Walking around Dublin at the minute, it’s very quickly obvious that the city is under siege by an army of bullshit. I’m sorry – I normally try to be reasonably polite about other people’s politics, but up with this I will not put.

I speak, of course, of the anti-choice posters that seem to have been splattered over the city from a paintball gun held by a despotic and artless misogynist. I found out that they’re from the always-reliable Youth Defence, quickly rushing into the breach to spread their moronic gospel – so I feel totally vindicated in my first opinion.

NOPE.

Look here: you are not pro-life. There is nothing pro-anybody’s life about opposing a Bill meant to save women’s lives. You understand that, don’t you? I have a grandmother who’s ninety-one and more Catholic than God, and she understands that. If you let the mother die, not only do you let the foetus you’re so concerned about die with her, you also make sure that she can never have any more children.

I can’t believe there are people in this country who don’t understand that. I can’t believe that people have been pelting the Taoiseach with Catholic paraphernalia, threats of harm, and letters written in blood. I just can’t believe it. I can’t be eloquent about this because I am just so utterly gobsmacked.

I shouldn’t be. I know, like, and respect people who are pro-life. I know, like, and respect many people who are Catholic. The bit that I don’t like and don’t respect is when people who share those views attempt to impose them on my body, my uterus, my liberty.

It’s so strange, this dogged determination that I should have to live by your rules, when you would absolutely agree that I am free to consign myself to Catholic hell if I so desire. If I were to get pregnant tomorrow, I would have it terminated. You know why? Because I’m not ever going to be a good parent. Because I’m not ready to hand over control of my body to an invader. Because I’m mentally ill, and I’d have to change my medication – which would probably land me in hospital, combined with the distress of said pregnancy – and it’s a 50/50 chance whether I’d pass this on to my offspring, and I couldn’t, with a clear conscience, take that risk.

So thank you very much for shouting until my broken, violated, and distressed self would have to get three doctors’ opinions before I would be counted as suicidal enough to require a termination. Suicide kills! Why does no-one take that at face value? Why is it that when several young men kill themselves in a row, they put psychiatrists on the news to discuss the problem, but when women threaten to kill ourselves it’s totally legit to write difficulties for us into law?

Don’t answer that. I don’t think I’m going to like your reasoning.

One of the more vocal anti-choice voices in Ireland is an old lecturer of mine. In person, he’s a genial and intelligent man, who teaches well and greets his students pleasantly when you pass him in the hallway. In the media, he espouses a viewpoint that would let me have a crack at killing myself and a hypothetical foetus, rather than allow me a termination and save my life. The cognitive dissonance there makes me slightly dizzy. I think that’s why anti-choice rhetoric has such a stranglehold in this country – because respectable, smart, likeable people carry a massive conservative bias and don’t seem to see anything wrong with imposing that on (hopefully also respectable and smart) women who don’t share the view.

So I’m pretty bloody angry about this, and every time I have to look at those dreadful posters I get angrier. I’m having daydreams out the windows of buses about having a lovely big bonfire on O’Connell Street – not that I would ever do such a thing, as I have respect for public order and the laws of the state, but a girl can dream. Also ruled out by law would be ‘editing’ them to have a more realistic message, but no-one said I can’t do that on the internet:

posteredit

Better!

This was nicely cathartic, even as rants go. I know this is a sensitive issue, and I really do understand that people can hold a viewpoint I dislike and will do so for reasons they think are morally right. I honestly just cannot deal with the far-right on this one, though. People like this are anti-choice and anti-women, and I am so very tired of seeing their rubbish defiling my beautiful city.

Previous post: a background to Irish abortion law pre-2013.

‘oh! common sense!’

(…as a Twitter acquaintance said on hearing some of this stuff.)

A very quick post on some of the words that’ve been thrown around recently.

Transgender: someone whose gender assigned at birth doesn’t match the gender they feel inside. The doctor said ‘it’s a boy!’ but when she grew up she knew she was a woman.

Cisgender: not transgender. The doctor said ‘it’s a boy!’ and when he grew up he agreed. This is not a derogatory term in any way. In the same way that up needs down and gay needs straight, the opposite of transgender is cisgender. Most people are cisgender. If you see it being used in a negative light, it is probably because we cisgender peple don’t understand the abuse and discrimination lots of trans folks face, and that’s a pain in the arse. Think of it like this – if you’re a woman, do you ever get frustrated because men don’t understand some of the sexism we face (‘get back in the kitchen luv’ or ‘shouldn’t you be at home with your kids and not working?’) – see? Pain in the arse that you only really understand if you’re part of the maligned group.

Why do you need to differentiate? Aren’t we all women? Well, yes. Of course we are. But when you need to talk about specifically ‘the group of women who have changed gender in society’s eyes’ you need the term ‘trans women’. If you want to talk about the group of women who have kids, you need the word ‘mothers’. Each group is a subset of the whole, and we’re all women, but different groups of women have different experiences in life – hence the different titles.

Intersectionality: a big word for a simple concept. All women face sexism. Women of colour face sexism and racism; men of colour, only racism. Gay women face homophobia and sexism; gay men only face homophobia. Intersectionality means understanding that your gender and race and sexuality and age (etc, etc) mean you face different challenges in society. You’re better off than some people and worse off than others. Intersectional feminism means taking that into account when you write or act with regard to feminism.

Transphobia: discrimination against transgender people. It happens a lot. A lot, a lot. Most cisgender people – me included – have no idea of the blatant shit transgender people get handed by society. Doctors who think being transgender means that they can treat you like a test case and ask invasive questions, or sometimes deny treatment altogether. People who refuse to address them by their chosen name. She says she’s called Mary but she’s still John to me! People who feel they can ask a trans lady what’s under her skirt and not understand why that’s hurtful. And on and on and on.

Why do transgender people get upset when cisgender people say transphobia doesn’t exist? Isn’t that obvious? You deal with society being a complete arse every day of your life and then someone comes along and says you’re making it up. I’d be hopping mad. Would you tell a Black woman racism doesn’t exist? I’m guessing not. Same goes for transphobia – the discrimination is real and it hurts to have that be pushed to one side.

Why do people write ‘trans*’? What does the asterisk mean? If you’re familiar with search string operators, you’ll know that ‘school*’ will bring up ‘schoolhouse’ and ‘schoolbook’ and ‘schoolteacher’. The asterisk covers every word starting with ‘school’, no matter the ending. Trans* covers transgender and transsexual and other terms – and also people who identify outside the gender binary (those who don’t like either masculine or feminine labels), or those who are questioning their gender assigned at birth and seeking an identity that fits.

Gender binary: the societal system that classifies people as ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Some people don’t wish to identify as either: this is often (but not always) called being genderqueer.

Is there anything I’ve left out? Happy to clarify.

(Thank you to my friend Kirill for advice on the term trans* and its use.)

“pro-life.” whose life?

In the lead-up to the US Presidential election last week, many US-based feminist friends of mine were passing around information and charts with titles like ‘What would America be like without Roe v Wade?’ and ‘We need Planned Parenthood!’. What would it be like, they wondered, to live in a country with no abortion rights? No comprehensive family planning and reproductive health experts with whom to discuss every option facing someone with an unwanted pregnancy?

I’ll tell you what it’s like. It’s like this.

Here we have Savita Halappanavar. Savita was 34 and in her second trimester of pregnancy. Savita’s foetus died, and it poisoned her from the inside out. Savita’s husband, Praveen, watched his unborn child lose viability for life, and then watched his wife slip away after it.

Savita’s doctors watched the couple struggle to keep it together. They listened to her plead for a termination of the pregnancy, and they said no. They would not remove the unviable, failing foetus from her uterus.

Put it another way: they would not remove the tissue which caused septicaemia to spread through her body.

When you say it like that, it does sound rather barbaric, doesn’t it?

This was not a matter of law. I’ve written a comprehensive post on Irish abortion law before, linked here. That post was from the day some archaic Catholic windbag in the Dáil made some entirely misguided remarks about the sex lives of people other than herself (and therefore, not her business), and then the Dáil went on to vote down a private member’s bill to enforce the Supreme Court’s judgment in the X case.

The X case is twenty years old this year. Ms X was 14 and pregnant as the result of a rape. She wanted to go to England for a termination, because – understandably – the situation was making her suicidally desperate. The Government got wind of the plan and took out an injunction to stop her going. Ms X and her family fought it all the way to the Supreme Court; they were vindicated, eventually, but by then Ms X had miscarried.

The precedent set by that case allows a doctor in Ireland to perform an abortion if there is ‘a real and substantial risk’ to the life of the mother. I am not a doctor, but even I know that septicaemia is a rare but recognised side-effect of some miscarriages. It is definitely real, and it’s about as substantial as risks come. (Grateful here to Dr Muiris Houston in the Irish Times for this article on risk in miscarriage.)

That was decided twenty years ago.

This country remains abysmal for women’s rights. It is downright humiliating to turn around to our European and American neighbours, hat in hand, and say ‘this exists, and we haven’t done anything about it.’ It is an absolute joke that our politicians – especially our women in positions of influence – do not stand up before the country and bang down doors until we get a proper debate, a referendum, a Yes campaign. It is so very harmful that our doctors will not perform a procedure which, if necessary, they could validate under current case law.

But that’s just the thing, isn’t it? This is the status quo. No doctor will be the first to hang out their shop sign and perform terminations, because they need to know they won’t be struck off the medical register. No political party will take up the cause wholeheartedly, because this administration have enough on their hands without fighting another referendum campaign that might fail – and worst of all, yes, it might actually fail. As a rule, young Irish people are mostly in favour of abortion on demand, but young people are not the bankable demographic that you depend upon to win a popular vote. The Catholic moralists just have to tell their side that God says ‘no’, and therefore, ‘no’ will be said. Makes you wonder what Jesus would have thought of that.

There is no redeeming the death of Savita Halappanavar. I am glad the HSE are investigating the matter; I can tell you that if I were in her husband’s position, lawyers would be involved (and probably are). I’m glad her story is getting the publicity it deserves.

Just… let’s remember today, okay? Let’s have the outrage and the hurt we’re feeling to galvanise us, feminists and secularists and progressives of any gender. Let’s keep up a steady hammering on that door, and when it opens, let’s grab the opportunity with both hands. Let’s remember. Let’s work.

Let’s never have this happen again.

time to raise the level

Hello boys and girls and everyone else, just a quick note today.
I don’t know if you’ve seen it on TV yet, but Meteor have a new ad out. It’s about the things Mr. and Ms. Protagonist would do to get free internet access, and most of it is amusing (chase down a bus, steal from the neighbours, etc). However, the last item involves Mr. Protagonist going ‘to the first bar [he finds] with free wifi’. This bar is populated with drag queens, including one who’s dancing with Protagonist as he tries to check his phone, looking bored, distressed, and generally uncomfortable.

I fail to see the amusement value in Protagonist’s revulsion at ending up in what is clearly an LGBT space, myself.
Trans Media Watch, a UK organisation, didn’t find it particularly funny either, but Meteor’s PR team gave them this curious non-excuse. The same answer was given to me when I spoke up as a Meteor customer.

Look, I don’t like an internet pile-on, and I’m not going to talk about my very important hurt feelings, so this post is not going that way. I’m just going to say this: transgender people, and anyone on the trans* spectrum, get an awful lot of this bullshit. A seriously massive amount, that most of us in the cisgender** majority don’t even notice, because it doesn’t affect us the same way – but once you start noticing it, it becomes glaringly, cringingly obvious that we’re being sold lowest-common-denominator bigotry in the guise of humour.

And that’s some bullshit, really.

Meteor, your customers aren’t all bigots and we aren’t all ignorant. Come to that, we aren’t all even cisgender. And you’re a good company, whose customer service I’ve always found helpful and responsive. You’re better than the using a cheap laugh at the expense of a mistreated minority to sell your product.

Please withdraw this advertisement. An apology to Ireland’s LGBT community – but particularly the T, for transgender, part – would be appreciated, but mainly: take down the ad. Stop playing to the cheap seats. Stop assuming we’re all ignorant enough to think that transphobia is the height of humour.

(**‘cisgender’ means that your gender matches that which was assigned to you at birth based on your anatomy – it’s the opposite of transgender)

berks to the left of me, wankers to the right

I will be the first to say it: my relationship with the internet is not entirely a healthy one. This is no-one’s fault but my own, really. Sitting around at home feeling like a hermit, a nuisance, and a drain on society all at once, I use the internet for distraction and socialising, as well as a good outlet for my grumpy old lady side. (24-going-on-85, you know what I’m saying?)

Those are good days. On bad days, everybody (including me) hates everything (… including me) and opening your mouth in an argument feels like sticking your head out the top of a trench and shouting ‘looks like they’ve all gone home, sarge!’ in a particularly carrying tone.

Why? Well, for a start, there’s the Internet Fuckwad Theory – or, to give it a slightly classier name, the Online Disinhibition Effect – which tells us that anonymity provides a convenient cover for people to shout all the things that they wouldn’t say to one’s face. It works for good and bad: obviously, people use their internet soapboxes to sling mud in all directions, but you’ll also find that people are more willing to stand up for themselves and what they believe in on the internet too. It’s a great leveller.

Mind you, it’s also a great pile of rubbish, sometimes.

This weekend everybody on the internet watched the Olympics Opening Ceremony, myself included. I wrote about it earlier today, but suffice it to say: it was excellent. Dramatic, heart-warming, moving, and all that good stuff. Months of planning and effort and time on the part of the organisers and the volunteers, which all went off perfectly on the night. Well done everybody.

Which is fair enough, right? Even if you don’t support the Olympics themselves, if you don’t approve of the money they’re costing or the way the British government is handling things or the influx of foreigners to London (look, I’m trying to cover all sides here, including the batshit racist angle), you can credit those people with a job well done.

Wrong! THIS IS THE INTERNET. YOU ARE WRONG. It’s written by the door.

Nobody was happy. The Right thought… well, I’ll let this charming gentleman speak for himself:

(damned if I can find the source of this screenshot – if it’s yours, let me know)

– while the Left argued that we shouldn’t let ourselves bank the fires of our general outrage for an evening to watch a pretty show.

(I feel duty-bound to mention here that although I’m  an equal-opportunity taker of the piss, I’m also a dyed-in-the-wool leftie, and far more sympathetic to the waste of money/misuse of resources argument than I’m letting on. I just don’t think it was Danny Boyle’s, or his performers’, fault that seven or eight years ago the British government – still in the green fields of economic success – thought it would be a good idea to apply to host the 2012 games. I also think that there’s an awful lot of Awful out there in the world, and maybe things that make people happy and inspired are worth more than just their economic value.)

That was far too sincere. Back to piss-taking.

The Onion sums it up very nicely in this mini-article: Man Who Enjoys Thing Informed He Is Wrong. It feels like that, a lot of the time, especially if you spend a lot of your time around people with very strong convictions: it’s fine when you all agree, but every so often an issue comes up where you feel more moderate than your friends, or more strongly, and suddenly you’re facing the wrong side of the high wall that stands between Us and Them.

There’s a Kingsley Amis quote about grammarians, paraphrased here by Nick Cohen:

Just before he died, Kingsley Amis wrote that two dismal groups fought over the use of English: the berks and the wankers. Berks were permissive types who rejected all rules. “Careless, coarse, crass [and] gross … they speak in a slipshod way with dropped ‘Hs’, intruded glottal stops and many mistakes in grammar. Left to them, the English language would die of impurity, like late Latin.”

By contrast, wankers were authoritarians who wanted to impose every possible restriction on speakers and writers. “Prissy, fussy, priggish [and] prim … they speak in an over-precise way with much pedantic insistence on letters not generally sounded, especially ‘Hs’. Left to them, the language would die of purity, like medieval Latin.”

I think of this quote almost every day on the internet, except in place of linguistic argument I’m thinking of who’s offending whom on any given issue. From whatever your standpoint, the unthinkably rude and freewheelingly offensive are one step to your left (berks), and the overly uptight and righteous censors of socially acceptable vocabulary/ideas/happiness are one step to your right (wankers).

And the extra fun bit is that those two categories redefine themselves with every new reader of every new post… which is why you really can’t ever please all the people all the time.

You just have to live with it. You’ll always be somebody’s berk and somebody’s wanker.

Mayofornication

Those of you who were feeling that Ireland was heading too far in the direction of separation of Church and State will be pleased to know that Fine Gael’s Michelle Mulherin, self-appointed moral arbiter, brought things skidding back to the Dark Ages today by remarking that “Abortion, as murder, therefore sin, which is the religious argument, is no more sinful, from a scriptural point of view, than all other sins we don’t legislate against, like greed, hate and fornication, the latter, being fornication, I would say, is probably the single most likely cause of unwanted pregnancies in this country“.

Michelle will be happy, I’m guessing, that the Government voted down today’s private members’ bill to legislate for the enforcement of the Supreme Court’s judgement in the 1992 X case.

The X case was an incredibly sad affair, and a stark marker of exactly how deep misogyny can run in this country. Ms. X was a young woman who became pregnant as the result of a rape. She wished to have the embryo aborted, as she was considering suicide due to the combined trauma of the rape and the pregnancy. Her family supported her decision, and were going to travel with her to England to have her abortion. However, her father’s question to the Gardaí (police) over whether DNA from the aborted foetus would be admissable in the criminal case against the rapist alerted the authorities to her plans, and the Attorney General brought an injunction to the High Court to stop the woman travelling.

If you’re not Irish, I’ll give you a moment here to recover from that sentence.

The unimaginable cruelty required to keep a suicidal teenager within the borders of this country lest she relieve herself of the physical conditions causing her mental distress was justified by the AG under Article 40.3.3 of Bunreacht na hÉireann (the Irish Constitution), which states that “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right”.

The High Court upheld the injunction, but (thankfully) the Supreme Court overturned it, stating that an abortion would be justified if there was ‘a real and substantial risk’ to the life of the mother. Suicidality constituted such a risk; the X family had put forward medical documentation asserting that Ms. X was likely to make an attempt on her life if she could not terminate her pregnancy.

Later in 1992, three referenda were put to the Irish public, containing the proposed Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. The Twelfth, seeking to extend the ban on abortion even in cases of suicidality, failed; the Thirteenth and Fourteenth, allowing travel to a different country for the purposes of procuring an abortion, and allowing Irish medics to give information on overseas abortion services, passed.

Returning to the present day, not much has changed. Even in cases where the pregnant person is suicidal, abortion is unavailable in Ireland. The A, B, and C vs Ireland case of 2009, heard by the European Court of Human Rights, did not grant abortions to Irish women under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (which deals with privacy rights), but it did impress upon Ireland the need for proper information to be made available to pregnant women on whether or not they could legally obtain an abortion in cases where the woman’s life is thought to be at risk. It noted that the Irish laws have a ‘chilling effect’ on the willingness of women to come forward and ask what their rights are in that situation.

It should be noted that the Labour Party conference of 2012, held this month, unanimously passed a motion seeking to enforce the A, B, and C judgement, and to pass further legislation after Minister James Reilly’s Expert Group on abortion presents its conclusions in June.

The Government’s rejection of the Private Members’ Bill today was, to put it kindly, due to a wish to be informed by the Minister for Health’s Expert Group, or, to put it more bluntly, due to a wish to stall until June before they have to face the issue.

Minister James Reilly stated last night that the government is committed to putting into force the decision in the X Case. (This writer stated that it’s about bloody time.) A Red C poll in 2010 found that 60% of the younger generation of Irish adults (18-35) favour legalised abortion, at least in limited circumstances. Last week, a poll found that most Irish Catholics – or at least, nominal Catholics – no longer find the Church’s teachings on sexuality and relationships to have relevance to their lives. Taoiseach Enda Kenny won widespread approval last year for standing up to the Catholic Church with regard to the Vatican’s response to the child sex abuse scandal, and the government is refusing to re-open the closed Irish Embassy to the Vatican City.

Things are looking up for the old Church/State divide.

But naturally, the Catholics have to stick their bigoted, reactionary, oar in – and today that came in the form of the honourable Deputy Mulherin and her ridiculous statements. Deputy, I’m having some trouble parsing your statements – or possibly it’s my Garbage to English translator playing up – but I’d mainly like to tell you that we don’t legislate on the basis of sin. Really! If I dishonour my father and mother, I may get into a certain amount of trouble over the dinner table, but the Guards won’t be turning up looking for me.

You categorise abortion as ‘murder’, but it’s very hard to murder something that isn’t alive. And I know, I know, the Bishop said that the soul arrives in the embryo at the point of conception – maybe – even the Catholics aren’t united on that one – but scientists and doctors don’t believe the foetus to be alive until it’s a baby, outside the womb. Even conservatives can understand that up to about 22 weeks, the foetus can’t viably survive outside the mother’s body. That isn’t ‘life’, and stopping it isn’t ‘murder’. It’s a medical procedure.

Your previous statement that “I am against abortion in any form myself. The grace of God is so liberating and provides so many options to get the best out of life despite our fall in nature, and we all have that.” is so arrogant as to be somewhat unbelievable. If I – an already mentally ill woman – were to fall pregnant and have that drive me to an attempt on my life, you would prescribe ‘the grace of God’ as a remedy?

Thanks very much, but I’m guessing you’ve never actually spoken to a young Irish woman. We have a working knowledge of abortifacients, Deputy, and most of us have thought out a plan for how to obtain an abortion if we need one. We’re more than aware that you can’t pray away a medical issue, and no amount of praying will allow money for a GP visit to obtain a morning-after pill, or a quick Ryanair trip to the UK, to materialise in our pockets. We’re terrible dirty fornicators, like myself, or young wives, like some of my friends, who are trying to build a career or finish our education or who just don’t want children.

I’m aware the Deputy probably won’t listen to secular arguments concerning silly things like mental health or financial ruin, so turn off your secular-vision for a minute. Ready? If ‘the grace of God’ is so very liberating and allows us to get the best out of life, surely something which allows women to keep going with working the best out of their lives would come God-approved.

No?

Dammit.

Worth a shot.