I Will Stand With You — Will You Stand With Me?

Julieann Kelly

I am a proud Irish Republican woman.

I stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow countrymen and women against the injustices wrought on the people of my beloved country, be it civil rights or human rights I will stand with you. If I ask you the people of Ireland to stand with me to ensure my civil and human rights are upheld – will you? Or will you exile me to foreign soil to seek a medical procedure that is denied to me here unless I`m at death’s door?

I grew up in the 70`s & 80`s. Abortion was not a subject that was openly discussed, the general consensus was only “floozies” had them. Abortion came into my young life when a conversation between adults was overheard: “yer one took the boat”; “she is a baby killer”; “the babbie was deformed” etc. Their victim was a mother of one who had an abortion due to FFA (fatal foetal abnormality); if she carried to term like she was advised by doctors it would have resulted in her death. This woman lived the rest of her life filled with shame and guilt not only for making the choice to terminate but because of the closed minds and nasty hateful words of those around her. Cancer claimed her life, in her words “it was God`s punishment for killing my baby”. Like so many women before and after her she had to leave her baby’s remains in a foreign clinic, forever separated because of laws that said a mother trying to save her own life was a criminal! Her husband and son had the baby’s name engraved on her headstone, uniting them again if only in name.

Here we are in 2018, a so-called new liberal age when marriage between same-sex couples is legal, they are rightfully afforded the same rights as a heterosexual married couple, yet a woman is denied the right to her own bodily autonomy. The fear-mongering is still the same, cries of “it will be used as a form of contraception!” echo the cries of “Floozie”.

I am a mother of three much wanted children; my eldest daughter from my first marriage was conceived with the help of ICSI. I miscarried two of the embryos implanted with her early in the pregnancy and in time suffered more miscarriages. I was then blessed with my son and youngest daughter with my second husband. I have also suffered because of the 8th Amendment. I was forced to have three major abdominal surgeries against my will to save the life of the baby. My eldest was delivered a month early as my waters broke but not completely. The decision was taken to deliver her by c-section when I developed an infection that they feared would put the baby at risk although she showed no signs of any ill effects. I was put under general anaesthetic and did not get to see my baby till the next day due to my reaction to the anaesthetic. I developed a massive infection in my wound in the hospital which took six months to clear. My son was delivered in the same way as I was not progressing fast enough; I was in labour a mere five hours.

After my first experience I was terrified, in the height of pain and in great fear I refused. My husband was told if I kept refusing I would be sectioned under the mental health act and he could lose me and my son. The doctor was somewhat sympathetic, he allowed my husband to try and comfort me yet at the same time booking the theatre for the c-section.

I was lucky this time, I was awake for the birth but again developed a massive wound infection while in hospital.

My third and final dance with the 8th came when I was told during my pregnancy on my youngest daughter that as my womb was so weak due to the previous sections and subsequent wound infections I would not be allowed deliver her naturally. All my children suffered with shock due to their arrival into the world. My consent was not needed for any of these major surgeries, my body was not my own because the baby`s life came before my own, I live with the consequences of the infections to this day.


The raging debates regarding the upcoming vote have brought out the worst in many. I have had my life threatened, been called the vilest of names, my morals and suitability as a mother called into question because I`m pro choice. Ridiculous arguments thrown at me, I answer all these arguments with “I am pro-choice be that keep, abortion or adoption”, only to be met with more scorn and a refusal to engage in a sensible debate. I have been judged without people knowing what brought me to my stand on repealing the 8th: the suffering of a mother, my own experience of the 8th, a love for the women of my country.

100 years after a minority of woman were given the right to vote, I hear about sexual equality but I have to question this when an unborn foetus up until birth shares the same if not more rights than the woman who is used as a vessel. How far have we truly come in this liberal country? How can we speak of equality or loving both when our women have no say over their own body at the most vulnerable time of her life?

Crisis pregnancies, FFA, happen each day, the support we offer these woman is to exile them in shame to face a medical procedure in many cases alone on foreign soil. We force women to procure abortion pills online putting her life at risk in fear of discovery and face up to 14 years in prison, we force women to leave the babies remains in a foreign clinic, or to smuggle it into the country to bury it in secret, to have the cremated remains delivered in the post.

I will vote to repeal the 8th as I want to live in a country where I have a say over my own body, for my daughters and all the generations to come. I will stand shoulder to shoulder with all the women in Ireland. I will stand against the shame and fear culture we inflict on our women. I will vote Yes so young girls like Ann Lovett do not die because she could tell no one she was pregnant, so young girls like the X Case have a choice, for all the women like Savita Halappanava who died unnecessarily. Ireland owes it to our women to put them first.


11 thoughts on “I Will Stand With You — Will You Stand With Me?

  1. Although the author speaks of her pain during C-sections, she does not state if she wishes that her children had been aborted instead. I know of many women who wish they had never had their abortion(s), but rarely ever meet a mother who wishes her child did not exist.

    1. Of course she doesn’t wish they had never been born. Once a personality has developed no-one would have wished that.

      If indeed you have met “many women who wish they had never had abortions” did they wish they never had a choice? Having a choice means regrets or being content with the decisions made and most people are not going to make that lightly. The author gave the detail of one in her experience who exercised that choice on medical grounds but was condemned for it by a social environment you seem to be defending. You did not refer to another important group — those who did have an abortion and consider they did the right thing at the time and are at rest with their decision. That is why this referendum is about CHOICE, within the limited terms being proposed — and removing the threat to the health and even the life of the pregnant woman which sits there within the 8th Amendment.

      1. Your response and the claims therein lack credibility. How can a mother regret not having a choice if she believes that the only option was the right one ie she does not regret having her child?

        Your answer can be summed up thus, a mother is happy to have had a child but feels that she should be given a choice to not have had her child. The entire premise of your argument is nonsensical.

        Furthermore, I suspect, and only time will tell, that many of those women who claim to have been happy with their decision to have had an abortion are not in fact happy at all. They are stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the residual guilt that they feel. I know of more than one who deeply regretted their decision to abort their child, yet felt pressured by societal expectations and peer groups who portrayed teenage, or unwed, pregnancy as somehow inappropriate. The problem lies with social expectations, not with the innocent life geroqwing in the miother’s womb.

  2. Reblevoice, It is quite a redundant question you asked as my children are here now, but I will humor it. You are asking about a situation were my children were born, I had held them and bonded with them, so no I do not wish I had aborted any of them. If you were to ask if I would consider an abortion, it would depend on the situation. My issue was my consent was not required for the C-sections, my right over my own body taken away.

    I too know women who have regretted their abortions, only because of the shame our society made them feel for making the right choice for themselves. It is rare a woman will admit she wishes her child did not exist, but it is not as rare as you may wish to think, again due to the shame our society makes them feel. Instead of condemning and shaming these women who make a choice to end a pregnancy or struggle with motherhood to the point they wish the child did not exist, we should support them. Allow them to make the right choice for them in her own country were she can have the support of family and friends, be able to access medical help if she needs it, Support women who struggle with motherhood, give her the help she needs, and if needs be the medical help to be able to cope instead of shaming them into silence for fear of how our society will view and judge them.

    1. Julieann, Thank you for your response. However, your answer is confusing. I am not opposed to C-sections, nor do I believe that the mother’s life should be put in danger if it can be firmly established that this is so. I am opposed to ending a life when that life is deemed inconvenient, and that is what we are talking about here. You appear to suggest that those mothers who might wish that their children were never born are somehow to be lauded. I find that to be reprehensible. You blame society for making such mothers feel guilt for their position. Of course they should feel guilt. They are behaving contrary to the very laws of nature. Even female dogs care for their offspring, yet you seem to applaud those women who do not feel a similar affection for their children.

      The pro-abortion lobby is suggesting that two rights should make a wrong. Ending an innocent life is wrong, whether in or out of the womb. If you care about those reluctant mums, then fight for greater state support for them, more counselling, more financial assistance, more assurances that having a child is not a terrible thing as so many so-called ‘feminists’ seem to believe. Help those in distress, but don’t punish those who have done nothing wrong, and are there any more innocent than those to be found growing inside a mother’s body?

      Repealing the Eighth merely facilitates poor decisions based on family and peer pressures.The women who make those decisions have to live with that for the rest of their lives. In this, they too become victims, just like the children that they refused to allow to come into our world.

      1. My issue was my consent was not needed to perform a major surgery when neither my life or that of my child was at risk at the time. If that was the case I would gladly have given my full and free consent. Abortion is far from convenient for any woman who make`s that choice, I can not say that every woman who has or will have one will struggle with that choice as not every pregnancy is wanted nor every woman has maternal feelings but it must be her choice as it is her body that will carry the fetus/baby.
        I do not think women who struggle with motherhood and her feelings towards her child should be lauded, I think they should be supported by our society in any way we can so they can come to terms with those feelings and in many cases get help with mental illness that can be the root of the issue. You have proved my point on society making them feel shame. Why should them feel guilt? Because society pushes this ideal of mother`s?

        Not every woman wants children, not every woman is maternal. The perfect mother does not exist, it is not all sunshine and rainbow`s. I have three children whom I love with all my heart but there are day`s I struggle with the responsibility of motherhood. My body was taken over by a fetus that depended on me for life itself, I had to change every aspect of my life for the fetus, I was forced into major surgery to deliver them into the world, I struggled to care for them while my body tried to heal, I suffered severe postpartum depression, many times I sat holding a screaming baby while I cried because I did not know what I had to do to calm the child, feeding, winding, changing a nappy, cuddling often did not work and I was at my wits end. None of that fitted into this perfect ideal of motherhood society pushes on us. I am maternal and I struggle, but you want women who are not maternal or who struggle with perhaps mental issues to feel guilt? Nothing in life is perfect and it is wrong to push your ideals or morals on anyone else. Would you expect a person with mental health issues to feel guilt over a condition or emotions they have no control over?

        You write of the laws of nature and how a bitch cares for her offspring! That is an untruth as bitches as with all creatures of the world can and do reject their young. Again that is putting societies ideal on an imperfect world.

        I do fight for the rights of women, I fight against the injustice wrought on my fellow citizens each and every day, that is why I am pro Choice, as all our citizens should have the choice to be and do what is best for them. I wish it was as simple as telling a woman who is in crisis that it “will be ok” and she will go on and give birth to a unwanted baby, because a simple reassurance will make everything better, then just leave her to it because she has fulfilled her role as an incubator and brought another unwanted child into the world. Some women will bond with the baby but others do not, which can lead to a miserable life for both the mother and child. Too many children who are born suffer neglect and abuse because they were not wanted, too many children who are born into this world, unloved and unwanted are killed by their reluctant mother. Forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term and then give birth to the baby to me is wrong. We must not force our will upon any citizen of this country. Irish women have been oppressed for too long, we must help them break the chains they are bound by and trust them to make the right choice not only for themselves but the fetus they carry, who without the woman’s body could not survive up until viability.

        We will never agree wholly on this issue. I can see where you are coming from, if we lived in a perfect world and you take emotion and morals out of it abortion is a terrifying prospect but like I have stated we do not live in a perfect world and abortions will continue to happen. So therefore we must ensure women can have the medical procedure done safely and in her own country where she can hopefully have the support of her family and loved ones. Exporting women in shame makes them victims, victims of draconian treatment. We will all vote as we see fit, I just hope it is a vote for a more progressive and tolerant Ireland were the women or our country are valued and free to rule their own body.

      2. And the role of the father? The ;last I heard it takes input from a male to make a new life. Therefore, the child growing is 50% of the father even if that life is in the mother’s body. ‘Feminists’ such as you have sought to remove the rights of the father entirely in the decision-making process yet will scream blue murder if the father does not pay child support should the mother decide to take her pregnancy to term. You want your cake and you want to eat it hungrily.

        You are correct in that we will never agree. Your previous assertions, if reread, give insight into your real position. You are bitter because you underwent procedures that saved the lives of your children. You are seeking ofr any exsuce to complain because you are deeply unhappy with your lot in life. There are many women

    2. If you wish to use examples from the animal world to underline what you are saying, you might consider a little investigation. It is far from unknown for animals to abandon their young in stressful situations (and even when no explanation can be seen) and even to eat them. In addition, some animals have been known to reabsorb the foetus, especially when the natural conditions are unfavourable for both survival and rearing their young.

      Something else: If you wish to engage in debate then I would encourage you to have the courage and respect to use your name, as Julieann has done and as I am doing here. Diarmuid Breatnach

  3. (cut off) are many women who would love to have children but can’t, and then they have to listen to you whine about your children, who you ‘love’, surviving. You are all over the place with your arguments. As for using my name, does that make my position less credible? I do not feel obliged to provide you with my name as you are not deemed reliable to me. However, I have provided my name in letters that I wrote and had published in the main Nationalists newspaper in the OSC. I have no fear of my name being associated with my opinions on this matter but will not jump through hoops merely to satisfy an ineptitude in debate found in others. Nor do I feel the need to dance to your tune as regards my personal information. After all, the Brits just love true Republicans to argue and then divulge intel. Then again, if you are a Republican you would know that.

    Name or not, my points are valid and stand.

  4. Julieann Kelly

    Rebelvoice, I have not stated my views on the role of the father of the fetus, So for you to place your assumption is quite forward and judgmental. The article I wrote was and is about women and her rights so I will not enter into a sideline debate about men and their rights.

    I am far from bitter that my three children are alive and well, my children’s lives were not at risk and as I have stated if that was the case I would have given my consent fully and freely, if you choose to try to alter a situation you were not involved in or have no knowledge of, feel free to do so but know that you would be 100% wrong.

    Again you assume to know me and my situation, I have a pretty decent life, I wake up each day happy in the knowledge that I have a roof over my head, food in my kitchen, average health and am surround by my family and friends. That is a pretty good lot I have and I am truly happy and grateful for that.

    I will not enter into this nonsense any future with you as your bitterness and negativity are not conducive to a mature, healthy debate.

    Best wishes to you and I hope you find contentment in your life to the point you stop shaming the women of this country, and learn to cast away the negativity and bitterness that shrouds you.

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