If we’re so keen to break away from the Church it’s time to change the law

Next week will see a huge step forward for women’s rights in the UK. For the first time ever, a television commercial will be aired to the nation advertising unplanned pregnancy and abortion advice by a clinic in an effort to confront the long-standing taboo surrounding abortions, and to equally raise awareness of sexual health.

The clinic in question, Marie Stopes International, not only deals with abortions but also with contraception, unplanned pregnancy counselling, STI testing, and health screening.

This ground-breaking ad will be aired on Channel 4 on Monday May 24 at 10.10pm; however Channel 4 has banned the advertisement in Northern Ireland. This is because abortion is still illegal in the province, much like it is in the Republic.

So why is Ireland not tackling the issue of abortion?

It has been a year since the Ryan Report on child abuse within the Church was released. And within that time it has become clear that a sizeable portion of the country have lost all respect for the Church. Priests and bishops are being asked to resign, Church and State are no longer one, so why do we still allow these men hold sway over the welfare of women?

Along with a referendum on the rights of children, there should be a referendum on the rights of women.

Whether you are anti-abortion or pro-choice, whether you’re Catholic or agnostic, married or single, the decision to have an abortion, or at the very least discuss your options openly and comfortably with trained professionals should be ours, not the Church’s. Abortion information is available in this country, but the service is not, and with the issue being such a taboo it’s clear many women find it difficult to talk opening about their situation.

Having such facilities available in Ireland isn’t about encouraging abortion, or unsafe sex, it’s about basic human rights. It’s about having all the facts easily available, without stigma attached, so people can make informed and educated decisions. It’s about alleviating the taboo, and lessening as much stress as possible. Without all sides being represented in this country, woman are rushing decisions, panicking, and possibly endangering their health.

It shouldn’t matter what the majority religion is in the country, or whether or not you would get an abortion, it should be about the welfare of all involved. If we are to be seen as a progressive and modern society then there shouldn’t be any questions over the legality of abortion. Once the service provided is regulated and above board, and includes counselling and aftercare, it should then be up to those affected to decide if it’s something they wish to avail of.

It shouldn’t be up to the Church.

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