As women, and as human beings, we should be able to make choices. As women, and as human beings, reproductive healthcare should be accessible to all.
Necessarily implied in both the terms choice and accessibility is the denouncement of the exertion of ¬†power, influence and criticism regarding our reproductive healthcare by external forces.
Thirty years ago this January, Anne Lovett, a 15-year old schoolgirl, died alone after enduring unassisted childbirth in a grotto on a rainy morning in Granard, Co.Longford.
We can imagine Anne, in the Ireland of the 1980s, may have felt forced, by external forces, to avoid a dichotomy of roles. On the one hand; the young mother bearing a child seen as ‘illegitimate’, on the other; (if it were possible for her) a coldblooded ‘baby-killer’. Hers was no choice.
Thirty years on, the stigma surrounding female sexuality and reproductive choice has by no means dissipated. The recent opening of an anti-choice counselling clinic, directly adjacent to a Marie Stopes Reproductive Choices clinic represents a stark example of this. Women, of the past and present should never feel forced to evade roles viewed as deviant by others. Women should have real choices and real accessibility of reproductive healthcare.
Now is the time for condemnation of such oppression – but it is also the time for celebration. Because step by step, we gain a little more choice, we gain a little more freedom, we move a little further away from dichotomisation, from demonisation.
Let’s let them know that we’ve almost won.