Why I’m voting No in the upcoming referendum

Looking at the statistics from England and Wales, Mairead talks about why she is voting No

Written by Mairead McDonagh Bates


On the 25th of May 2018, a large majority of people in Ireland will be heading down to their nearest polling stations to vote. Let’s start by saying that is the most important thing. We live in a democracy where we have the chance to have our voices heard and have our say so let’s make sure we use it. Regardless of your side in the debate make sure you vote, encourage your friends and family to vote.

I will be voting on the 25th of May. I will be voting No and here's why.

If scientists found a creature with the same characteristics of life as a 9 week old foetus in the womb on Mars, there would be uproar in the scientific community.  If we found life on Mars we would rejoice. We should show the same regard for life for a foetus in the womb here on Earth. According to the NHS at 9 weeks in the womb a foetus has a mouth, tongue and tiny taste buds. The heart is fully formed and beats 180 times a minute at 10 weeks . We have fingernails at 11 weeks . At 12 weeks all of the organs, muscles, limbs and bones are in place. Our sex organs are well developed. Around this time the foetus is made of cartilage, and its now starting to develop into hard bone.

Wales and England's abortion laws do differ to what we propose. Out of all abortions carried out in England and Wales in 2016 81% of all abortions carried out under 10 weeks and a further 11% at 10-12 weeks. We are proposing abortion up to twelve weeks on demand, no specific reason needed. So we can use England and Wales’ statistics to give us an idea of what abortion under 12 weeks would look like in Ireland.

There were 190,406 reported abortions carried out in England and Wales in 2016. Almost 97% of these abortion were classified under risk to a women's mental health (F99), which means nothing specific was mentioned other than mental health grounds. In my opinion these statistics show us that we need far more mental health support and services for pregnant women. In my opinion a portion of these abortions could possibly have been prevented or an alternative solution found if these women had the appropriate care and support they needed.

Roughly 1 in 5 women develop mental health problems during pregnancy. 1 in 8 of our partners will also experience mental health problems during our pregnancy. In a survey carried out by RCOG (the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) only 7% of the women surveyed who experienced mental health problems during pregnancy were referred to specialist care.

According to a study carried out by Trinity College 16% of pregnant women are at risk of developing depression during pregnancy in Ireland. I acknowledge every situation is unique. Instead of offering these women abortions I believe we should instead ensure our country has the proper supports in place for them and their partners. Let's work to make our country a place where its ok to say you're struggling, and receive the care and support we need.

I fully agree abortion should be legal in certain circumstances such as rape, incest, when a woman's life saving treatment is being stopped and fatal fetal abnormalities etc but not as a contraceptive method. In other cases it takes two people to make a baby. It should take two people to decide the fate of that baby. Just like not all women are going to get abortions for the wrong reasons not all men will leave a pregnant women, be a neglectful father and most men love their child unconditionally. If we want to better women's rights to make a more equal society we need to preach equality and take men into account in this situation.

If a child in a neighbouring town is being severely bullied it doesn't directly impact my life. So should I not be appalled and want to rid the world of bullying. Although something does not personally happen to us as individuals we are allowed to have a say and try to stop things we think are wrong.

Instead of using abortion as a solution we should tackle the main problem. There is a lack of open conversation and education around sex and consent. Sex is not a dirty word. It is happens daily everywhere all around us. Educating children about puberty is not enough, not only do we need to understand our bodies, we need to understand how the world interacts with out body. Sex is normal, we should talk about it. We need a society where we are not embarrassed to walk into a shop and buy a box of condoms. Or go to our doctor for  birth control. We need to dispel myths that sex before marriage is wrong because it's not. Sex is just as good if you use a condom. You won't be branded as a prude if you say no, or want to use a condom. You’re not promiscuous or shameful for having sex. The age of consent in Ireland is 17. That means sex education at that age is too late as some people are already having sex. We don't prepare for a job interview during it or study for the leaving cert on the day. We prepare well in advance, years in advance even. Sex education should be treated the same way. Early intervention is key in so many of the world’s problems.

These are some of the reasons why I believe we should vote no. For an Ireland full of equality, compassion and freedom I believe we need tighter restrictions on abortion. Propose support and care instead of abortion on demand.

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