Today – 26 May 2018 – here in Ireland, the 8th amendment banning abortion was repealed as votes were counted and the overwhelming victory for the REPEAL movement was officially declared.
As I watch the news, I hear politicians saying that now women will be cherished, treated with compassion, respect, equality and trust. I have serious doubts which are founded in scandals of the all too recent past. All one has to do is think of CervicalCheck. Or think of the hundreds of women, many of whom are mothers, that are homeless. Or think of the women who are paid less than their equal male colleague. Or the mothers who must take to the media in their fight for necessary and timely medical care for their children with complex medical needs or a twisting spine with scoliosis.
Yes, this is a huge step on the way to achieving the equality, respect and compassion for the women of Ireland that the politicians are now boasting about having brought in with their campaigning. But, it is only a step. It is one piece of a much larger, complicated, jigsaw puzzle.
The politician who said *cherished* is leader of a political party that made devastating cuts to lone parents, most of them women, leading to homelessness, dire economic hardships, and left families struggling to survive. There was no cherishing of women.
The politicians who said *respect* and *equality* and *compassion* and *trust* are members of a political party that have, and continue to, turn their backs on thousands of women across Ireland in a multitude of ways –
…women who are now dying because of changing mandatory disclosure to instead be voluntary disclosure
…women who daily see their disabled children suffer in emotional and/or physical pain because a lack of timely or necessary medical interventions
…women who are ignored, lied to, blatantly dismissed in their pleas for help from their government…women who sit tonight in a hotel room, hub, B&B or even a Garda station with their young children because they are homeless
…women, even quite elderly women, who are left to languish on trolleys in hospital corridors.
…women who make up the majority of full time family carers for a disabled loved one and who are left alone, isolated, with no respite help, no wraparound support services, no ability to live a full life for themselves, let alone secure a stable future.
There is no respect, trust, compassion or respect in these all too common scenarios.
Yes, this repeal is a huge step. But yes, we have a long, long way to go to truly see those words so easily spoken by the politicians become reality for the women of Ireland.
Yes, we should, and will, celebrate this huge step. But when the celebration winds down, let’s remember to pick up our swords again, because the fight for those rightful ideals is still yet to be truly won.