Never again they scream. And I believe it for just a split second. This week they will shout once more; some at the top of their lungs, others quietly as though they can hardly believe they have to say it again.
Pro-choice groups around the country are gearing up for yet another march against the archaic lack of abortion legislation that puts women’s lives in danger over and over.
My Facebook feed is filled with pictures of posters half-made that cry out for change. I scroll through a stream of outrage and disbelief on Twitter.
It has happened again, under our watch.
This week’s news feels like just the latest tired scandal. I can hardly bring myself to look at the coverage at home. I positively shy away from the international headlines. I feel teary and defeated as the details emerge. They come slowly, each one a sorry blow to our ability to claim that we are a compassionate nation.
I want to avoid it, to turn the page over.
Until it becomes clear that my response is exactly the reason that this country can get away with forcing a terrified young woman to carry her rapist’s child.
Because as long as Ireland gets away with treating women as mere incubators for children and not autonomous human beings these stories will continue to drop like bombs.
As the stories roll on and on it is so easy to allow the anonymity of these women to whitewash their suffering.
Not because we are unsympathetic. Not because we are cruel. But because in a society that shows again and again that women don’t matter eventually we grow accustomed to that notion. It wears its way in.
Where do we learn empathy when the rules tell us that women are less?
Two years ago when Savita Halappanavar passed away I stood outside the Dail and at the Spanish Arch in Galway as pro-choice protesters expressed their anger at the needless loss of life. I listened to friends of Savita speak. I heard activists go hoarse at the microphone. I wasn’t there to take part but to observe. It was a journalistic endeavour. I was never much one for joining in.
For the sake of balance I also tagged along to a pro-life rally outside Leinster House where I had goosebumps and a lump in my throat listening to so many people chant for the retention of a law that could one day put my life at risk, or my friend's, or my mum's.
But I ignored the goosebumps and met with campaigners. I listened to their stories and recorded them duly.
I wanted to understand what drives droves of people to bundle up in warm clothes and brave the cold to shout for things in the dark.
I had never felt the urge or had the self-belief. I would feel stupid holding a banner.
This time around I will show up once more where they march with signs that say Never Again. I’ll listen to the same words calling for a change to come. They will plead for a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment but this time I won’t be there for work.
I won’t just be observing because the women who fall foul of the lack of appropriate medical care in this country deserve more than a country full of people standing by, quietly disgusted.
They deserve noise and it shouldn't just be for 'protesters' or 'activists' to make.
Any one of us could be next and leaving it to 'the left' isn't enough any more. Everyone languishing in the middle ground needs to decide whether they support a woman's authority over what happens to her body. And if they do then they must join the call for this to be the final straw.
It shouldn’t be left to a just a handful of people with fire in their bellies to stand up for our right to choose.If you feel the 8th ammendment should be changed, join the protest which leaves the Spire today at 6pm, check out the Facebook event page here.