Saturday, 17 November 2012

Pregnancy and progress

I can still remember where I was when I found out I was pregnant. It was in the bathroom of the office where I worked and I can still feel my cheeks burning with shame at the recollection of the 'walk of shame' to my manager's office. It was the year 2000. Yes indeed, Robbie William's 'Millenium'.

"Um, I need some time off".

"OK, going anywhere nice"?

"Not really, the maternity hospital".

I can still see his face now, it was a curious hybrid of a fatherly like concern combined with an embarrassed half smile.

I don't regret becoming a mother. Quite the opposite, there are very stressful times when the only thing which keeps me going is that cheeky wee face around my door. Why else would I have just agreed to another three days in Blackpool Tower with two thousand, (count them) TWO THOUSAND little princesses running riot in sequins ? If I have any regrets, it's the manner is which my little darling was conceived. She wasn't planned, hell no. I went with the old Irish Catholic method of "Och, it'll be all right". Quelle surprise, it wasn't. Wasn't it Billy Connolly who nodded in the direction of the Catholic Church and the rhythm method for his very existence ?

Post conception, I struggled with the shame thing for a while. I COULDN'T be pregnant, because I come from a very large, very Catholic family. What to do ? Common sense prevailed when I realised at 27, I had a full time job, with maternity leave. Not quite the end of the world then. Still, telling those closest to me was hard, although once La Princess arrived, the whole schema became pink and fluffy.

See, I come from a country where until recently, it was deemed acceptable to condemn women to a life of abject torture in The Magdalene Laundries, because they were unmarried and pregnant. Indeed, in some cases they weren't even pregnant, just "queer". I come from a country where in 1984, Ann Lovett lay down beneath a statue of Our Lady. She died from irreversible shock caused by haemorrhage and exposure during childbirth and her new born son died also.

I come from a country where for years, the Catholic Church became a convenient hiding place for paedophiles and homosexuals because you see at that time, they were one and the same. I come from a country where every time one of those sons of God attacked a child, they were simply moved to another parish and a huge cover up ensued. All of those cover ups are only beginning to come to the surface now, as are the cover ups around the Magdalene Laundries.

As a society though, we have moved on, right ? Well no, not really. Today I have taken time out to read the horror story of a young woman who was effectively sentenced to death by Irish Catholicism. Strong words ? Maybe, but the truth is she was bearing a child who stood no chance at a sustainable life and because of the archaic laws surrounding the rights of an unborn child, she was allowed to die. I'll just say that again. SHE WAS ALLOWED TO DIE. There was no medical intervention to remove the foetus and ultimately, although the child was destined to die, the mother lost her life also.

There's something seriously skewed with that thinking. Let me make this plain, as a feminist I am not pro-abortion, not at all. But that's MY choice. I don't deem it my right to dictate to any body else what they should and shouldn't do with their own bodies. Never will I support the Jeremy Kyle generation who pop down the clinic to have termination number three because they can't be bothered to use contraception or because they simply decide at twenty weeks that they've changed their mind. Not on.

The women who choose to have a very early abortion deserve a mention too, I don't believe they ought to be burnt at the stake either. A bitch will fight to the death for her pups yes, but sometimes she will eat them. It's called survival.

The afore mentioned situations are different, this is a woman's life we're talking about. A happily married woman who could have continued to have had any number of successful pregnancies.

Is it any wonder that a sizeable proportion of my Irish friends have converted from Roman Catholicism to Christianity ? Not really.

LL xx

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