I wrote this yesterday morning. Meant to post it yesterday but after no sleep at all, got home and crashed out. Here it is.
I’m sitting drinking tea and eating overpriced breakfast in Prestwick airport. Lady Gaga is playing on speaker somewhere. It’s 5.40am.
I didn’t sleep tonight. Did you? I couldn’t. Not just because I knew I had to get up before 4am, or the loud drunk people in the hostel room next door, or because I’d just said goodbye to the Ladyfriend until the next visit and the bed felt terribly cold and lonesome. I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking of Savita. And I couldn’t stop thinking of all the Irish women lying awake tonight for early morning flights to the UK, while thousands around the country mourn and rage. I wonder how that feels. I hope that today of all days, they know that Ireland is waking up to the love and compassion it’s been hiding all these years.
I’m lucky. I’ve never had to make that journey. I’m lucky. I have the choice.
I don’t know about the details of Savita’s life. I’m sure I’ll find out more over the next days and weeks. But right now I want to ask a question. Did Savita have a choice? And what about the women who don’t?
Savita’s choice was denied her because by the time she made it she was in an Irish hospital with doctors who chose, for some reason, to inform her that she was “in a Catholic country”. Catholic countries have no compassion for dying women. But did she have a choice to start with?
Irish women, we have choice. Those of us who can afford it, at least. We can take our early-morning flights and make our escape. Many migrant women don’t have that choice, can live in Ireland for years knowing that if they need to leave, they can’t. I wonder how that feels. Knowing that life in the home you’ve made for yourself is a Russian roulette if you don’t want to be pregnant. Or if you’re pregnant and have a non viable fetus. Or if you’re pregnant and have cancer, or anything else short of the immediate threat of dying. Or even that. Knowing that as you lie dying, your doctor might just tell you where you live and leave. Leave, while you cannot.
Our country says that to migrant women. They made their beds, we say, as we force them to lie in them even to the death.
I don’t know the details of Savita’s life. But this isn’t just about Savita. She is one of the unlucky ones. She’s the one we’ve heard about. Savita is dead, and I can’t believe that she’s alone. Savita’s life is one part of our story of absolutes, lack of compassion and the devaluing of so many lives in the name of morality.
Sitting here in a UK airport before dawn this morning, I wonder about the rest of that story.
- Woman Dies After Being Denied an Abortion (slog.thestranger.com)
- The killing of Savita Halappanavar (thefword.co.uk)