Student Issues

College, condoms and choice: a student’s view on the abortion debate

 
As college students, we are the ones who will be majorly affected by government rulings. So how will this whole abortion debacle affect us then?
 
With the end of Fresher’s Fortnight, and the beginning of S.H.A.G Week, we can all reflect on messy nights out, fun times with friends, good decisions and the odd regret here and there. 
 
We are constantly reminded to “Think Contraception”, but what if it was all to go wrong? What if we didn’t think? What would our options be then? 
 
In line with our current legislation, we would have no choice but to go ahead and have the baby. We would have to put our studies on hold, find jobs, console distressed parents and go through nine months of pregnancy to have a child that we cannot support or give the life that it undoubtedly deserves. How is this fair on the mother or the child? 
 
According to crisispregnancy.ie, the most common reasons for unprotected sex resulting in pregnancy among young women were “Not being prepared or unplanned sex.” The report also stated that, “20% of participants under the age of 25 said that alcohol/taking drugs had contributed to them having unprotected sex in the past.” 
 
Let’s face it, we’re students; college wouldn’t be the same without the odd bit of messiness and the impulsive decision here and there. But it is a scary thought that if we were in need of help, we would be left without any choice. 
 
The issue of abortion is very much a student one, with the UK Department of Health statistics showing that approximately one quarter of women who give Irish addresses when availing of abortion services in the UK are between the ages of 18-24.
 
At present, statistics show that Irish women are more likely to have surgical abortions rather than medical abortions, which are more invasive. This is due to the fact that medical abortions are only available up to 9 weeks, and by the time a young woman or student has raised money for their procedure and travel expenses it is simply too late. 
 
Many students do not have access to this type of money, leaving them to face psychological, physical and financial hardship following a procedure in the UK, or having to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term because of the restrictions imposed on their own bodies in their own country. 
 
It is true that the introduction of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill was a massive step for the Irish people in the direction of making abortion accessible, free, safe and legal. 
 
However, the Bill is very specific and only authorises abortion in Ireland in limited circumstances, specifically when there is a real and substantial threat to the mother’s life, including suicide. And even then it is under strict restrictions and is not easily accessed by those who need it.
 
Despite the signing of the Bill into law, two of Ireland’s top medical institutions previously announced that they should not be expected to carry out abortions under this Act because of their Catholic ethos and background. 
 
Sister Eugene Nolan of the Mater Hospital’s board of directors previously said that they were faced with a “Very, very grave” situation following the Bill’s introduction. 
 
St. Vincent’s University Hospital, also in Dublin, was named as one of the 25 abortion-approved facilities. A spokesperson for St. Vincent’s previously claimed that the hospital would, “as always, be following the law of the land.” Their opinions and those of people like-minded to them should not limit the rights of the women of our nation. 
 
Many will argue that even this is “evil”; some feel this is enough for Ireland, while many of us feel disappointed at the limitations of the Bill. 
 
As students, further developments on this issue will be affecting our generation more than those in government. We are constantly reminded that we are “our own people” and that we should “never let anyone tell you how to live”. How is that possible in a society where a woman’s body is under the control of the state and not herself? 
 
It is my body. It is my life. It isn’t my choice. 
 
It’s time for change.
 
Photo: TipsTimesAdmin/ Flickr