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'It seems disingenuous that now a referendum about abortion is on the cards, women are now front and centre of Fianna Fáil'

The photo which is mostly made up of men is quite jarring to the eye.

THE REFERENDUM ON the 8th Amendment has thrown up some interesting battles in the public eye. Not least the split that seems quite apparent in Fianna Fáil. Things are more tense in that party than Kris Jenner whenever Kanye starts tweeting.

Let me start by seeing that I have no problem with people expressing their opinions on abortion. It is not an easy topic and morally it’s a quandary for a lot of people.

What I actually have a problem with is the make up of the photo. The photo contains 31 Fianna Fáil TDs and senators who are all opposed to repealing the 8th Amendment. Even though I don’t agree with their politics, that’s fair enough.

But just look at the strategic placing of the women in the photo. It smacks of ‘Oh they’re women. Stick them in the front’. I’m aware that it was a female TD Mary Butler who organised this photo call, that doesn’t make the placement any less jarring.

Irish women have been suffering from scandal after scandal in this country. It seems disingenuous that now a referendum about abortion is on the cards, women are now front and centre of Fianna Fáil.

Secondly, there is a certain hypocrisy when you see the green ribbon on some of the lapels. Mental health is something that’s constantly talked about in Ireland. We now have the highest rate of suicide among girls in Europe. In fact one of the only legal ways to procure an abortion is if you can prove you’re suicidal enough to pose an active threat to yourself. What a sad state of affairs we’re in.

If the people in the photos wearing those ribbons really wanted to improve mental health in Ireland then they would be advocating for more mental health support for pregnant people during and after they give birth.

Why would they though? It’s not like pregnant Irish women have the highest rate of depression in the OECD or anything like that.

Thirdly, there is something about the amount of older men in this photo that scares me. I’ve been out canvassing for the past few weeks for the Yes side and you learn not to judge people. The amount of older men who I have canvassed who I have expected to vote no and are actually voting yes makes my heart soar. It’s actually made me ashamed of myself for prejudging them.

However, this photo reminds us that stereotypes exist for a reason. Men telling pregnant people what they can and can’t do with their bodies like we’re back in the Middle Ages. Last time I checked, nobody was making them to travel abroad to have a medical procedure done.

21 Fianna Fáil TDs voted against having a referendum at all out of a total of 32 in case anyone had forgotten. Fianna Fáil hasn’t exactly provided us with a beacon of hope for the future.

There is a way to be pro life and yet not enforce your views on other people. Mary Black has demonstrated it along with countless others. You can be morally opposed to abortion and still be pro choice. It seems a number of these Fianna Fáil TDs and senators have missed that memo.

This referendum is going to be close and if it does pass, it will not be thanks to Fianna Fáil with the exception perhaps of Micháel Martin.

Remember this photo call when this is all over. Remember the faces. They’re the faces of a past Ireland that we need to move on from. Repealing the 8th is the way to do that.

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About the author:

Rachel O'Neill

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