A pro-choice Catholic might seem like an oxymoron to some or a rarity to others, but we are here and we are numerous. For many of us it has been a journey to come to be pro-choice. We were raised with mass on Sundays and religion class throughout all our schooling. We had those little feet pins on our jackets going to school and were told plenty about why abortion was a sin, so much was said about “babies” and innocence. That Jesus was a kind and compassionate man who valued all people. I can’t remember hearing anything about the person who was pregnant and what they were facing.
For me, pro-life was some vague idea in the background. The realities of which were a world away from me. Abortion was never something I would consider for myself and so it wasn’t something I needed to give a lot of thought to. I am ashamed of the way I thought. The disregard that I had for other women in their time of crisis. I couldn’t and wouldn’t see beyond a baby, an innocent life.
It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my third and last child in 2016 that my thought process began to change. There was much talk about the eighth amendment. Not only how it effects a person’s rights to an abortion but how it affects all pregnant people in Ireland and their ability to consent. I joined an online support group for people who suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum (excessive morning sickness). One woman’s experience in the states really brought the realities of the eight home for me.
No medications were working for her, she was starving and her organs were starting to fail. This was for her a much-wanted pregnancy and she was faced with a decision that no one ever wants to make. Continue her pregnancy and possibly die as a result or terminate her pregnancy. I realised that I wouldn’t ever be given this choice here in Ireland, at least not until I was near enough to death that the decision was taken out of my hands. I would be leaving my two beautiful girls without a mother, my husband without a wife, my parents without a daughter. All because my life is seen as equal to that of the unborn in the constitution.
I started to research and look into all the different cases that have taken place here in Ireland. Each known by a letter. The woman’s privacy respected but her wishes denied. Details of their individual cases made public knowledge. The lengths this country would and will go to to ensure a woman remains pregnant. Rape survivors who have already been cruelly violated have their voices once more left unheard. People with the tragic news of a fatal fetal abnormality, forced to carry to term or travel if they can afford it. And the cases that never make the headlines. The women who take tablets alone, without medical supervision and with the fear of a fourteen year prison sentence hanging over them.
We have doctors telling us repeatedly that the eight amendment makes their jobs impossible.
We have lawyers telling us it is a law that is not fit for purpose.
How is any of that Christian? Where is the compassion that I was taught Jesus showed to all people? He valued the poor amongst all and here we are with a law the makes the poor suffer. They are the people who cannot afford the choice of travel.
Catholics for Choice, an organisation based in America, tells us that the church officially teaches that the conscience of the individual is supreme. We as Catholics can apply conscience to decisions about abortion. This means that if a woman feels that it would be morally wrong to bring a baby into this world, for whatever reason, then following her conscience is the right thing to do.
Article by: MaryAnne Tresoldi
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