Link Love: This is Ireland.

The Logistics of Arranging Abortions

Irish women have abortions. Every single day. Because of our laws, we aren’t able to do so in Ireland, so we travel. You hear a lot about the fact that women travel, as if it were an easy thing. We’ve all popped over to the UK for a long weekend or holiday, haven’t we? Travelling for an abortion shouldn’t be more complicated, should it?

Pro-choice activist Stephanie Lord tells us a little about what is really, really involved:

Do you have the internet? If you have, do you know how to delete your browser history so that your violent partner doesn’t know what you’re up to? Can you go to an internet café where nobody knows you? Bring tissues just in case. Do you know the number of the local women’s refuge?

Have you been to the doctor? How far along are you? Do you know the further along you are, the more expensive an abortion is? Can you get a loan from a Credit Union? Or will you go to a money lender? Do you have anything you can sell to raise the money? Can you lie to your parents or friends to borrow money? Can you max your credit card? Do you even have a credit card? Are there any bills that you can get away with not paying this month? Have you gone through all your old coats and looked down the back of the sofa? How long will it take for you to get €1,000 together? Can you get an extra €20 off the Community Welfare Officer? Can you not buy coal for the next few weeks? Are you on the dole? Can you use your savings? Can you defer your year at college and save the money for your Master’s Degree again? Is it Christmastime? Can you return any gifts for a refund or sell them for cash?

Women with money have options, women with nothing have babies.

Read the rest. There is far, far more.

Threesomes and blowjobs and Liveline, oh my!

Hold on to your seats and put down anything breakable, because you’re about to be shocked like you’ve never been shocked before. The latest scandal this week in Ireland has been over the fact that teenagers and young adults sometimes have sex. With each other. And that they sometimes experiment with sexy things.

I know. It was a surprise to me too. Who would have thought that hormone-flooded 16-25 year olds might possibly think of engaging in all sorts of deliciously sexy fun? They definitely wouldn’t come up with the idea on their own. Everyone knows that the only way to get a 16-25 year-old even thinking about sex is for an older person to write a matter-of-fact, clinical article describing how to be safe while you’re doing it.

At least, that’s what Mayo TD Michelle Mulherin thinks. If her name’s familiar to you, by the way, it’s because of her stunning revelation last year that “fornication, I would say, is probably the single most likely cause of unwanted pregnancies in this country” (I eagerly await her insights into the second and third causes of unwanted pregnancies, by the way). She’s now on the warpath again, because Irish youth website published an article a month ago about how to be safe if you’re having a threesome. Hop on your chaise longues and get out your smelling salts, because the kids of today are being exposed to such inappropriate scintillation as this:

  • Keep it safe. Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it all before, but seriously keep yourself protected. Like every sexual encounter it is important that you practice safe sex, and that means using contraception, even during oral sex. Remember that condoms are the only form of contraception that protects you against both pregnancy and STI’s.
  • Do be aware that you’ll need to change condoms if you are switching partners during the threesome. Otherwise you could end up with some pretty nasty infections.
  • Only do it if you want to do it. Not ‘cause you want to keep your girl or guy happy or because other people say it would be great craic. You do not love your partner any less because you do not want a threesome.
  • Respect your partner. If your partner tells you that they want things a certain way, don’t ignore it during the threesome. That’s pretty uncool and will likely affect your relationship too.

I know, right? I could barely keep my pants on myself.

Turning off the snark for a moment, though, Sharrow from Activism and Agitation got on the phone to Liveline to give the country some much-needed uncommon sense about teenagers, threesomes and safety. 

Yes I did say, anal sex, oral sex, 3some and the phrase ‘promoting blowjobs’ live on national radio to Joe Duffy, who doesn’t intimidate me at all, sure he grew up in the same part of Dublin as my Dad and is about the same age and all. I did ring and tell my parents afterwards, as a polite heads up and they laughed and said they were proud of me.

You see back in the mid 80s they ran parenting courses in primary schools for other parents, including the sex educational model and they have always been advocates of sex education, so I didn’t lick it off a stone.

Read the rest of what she has to say! And yes, she has a link to a podcast of the whole thing. You know you want to hear it.

‘Women Working? We Can’t Have That!’

When it isn’t women having abortions and young adults having sex, it’s those pesky, uppity womenfolk thinking they can just march on in and steal all the jobs rightfully belonging to the menz.

Yes, you read that right. Right here in 2013 Ireland, there’s a possibility that parents (and we all know which ones) whose childcare costs are greater than their income may be forced to.. quit their jobs. By their banks. I kid you not.

These guidelines will apply to those who are no longer able to make their mortgage payments and seek to enter into negotiations with the bank. Under the guidelines, lenders will be able to impose restrictions on what customers spend their money on, and how much they spend. These agreements will be facilitated by state-appointed mediators.

The first step of the process will be an estimation of what a person/couple/family needs to spend on “reasonable living expenses”. They will be allowed this figure but must then forego any luxuries. These “luxuries” include a car (in some cases),health insurance and for some, childcare.

every (male) journalist and politician was discussing how “women” and “mothers” might be forced to give up their jobs (it’s only a silly hobby for them anyway!). They made the immediate presumption that it would be the woman of the house who a) earned less and b) would obviously be the one to stay back and mind the kids. Mind you, considering that the pay gap continues to widen with each year of austerity, and on average women are responsible for 86%of child supervision in this country, I suppose it’s probably an accurate assumption

Check out the rest here.

And one more thing..

Just in case you thought we were the only ones to have a country full of illiterates from in a decades-old bubble. It’s not just us. Check out Irish atheist activist Leonie Hilliard schooling a USian evangelical about the meaning of, er, bibliophile. Oops.

That’s (almost) it!

In the meantime, though, please do take a moment to watch this important, if NSFW, PSA from our friends in Sperm Defence:

Youth Defence: Loving them Both?

When I say that I am not sure what Youth Defence’s definition of love is, it’s not just a statement I’m making for rhetorical effect. It’s an honest expression of bafflement. If you’ve been anywhere in Ireland in the past week or so, it’s unlikely you’ve missed the posters- they’re everywhere. A large handprint with a smaller one inside it and the phrase “the only solution is to love them both?”.

I’m not sure what they mean by the question mark either. Youth Defence are not a group I’ve ever known to ask an honest question or give a straight answer. It could be that they’re appealing to the (imaginary) idea that we will see this as obvious or self evident. “Obviously, the only solution is to love them both?”, asked with a sense of wondering why on earth we’re having this conversation to start with.

I’m not sure what Youth Defence mean by love, but I’m almost certain that I don’t want it.

I don’t want the love of strangers. Love is a thing that I share with my closest friends, family, and partners. I love my parents, my Ladyfriend, some of my friends, my cat. I love the people who I am closest to. I figure that you probably do too. Love is a big word with big implications. It’s not a word that should be thrown around. Love is a word that describes something more than the everyday. Love states that this is a person with whom I feel a unique kind of connection and closeness. My love for a person isn’t something that’s inherent to them. It is the bond between us.

Love isn’t just a bond, though. It also asks things of us. If I say that I love someone I don’t just mean that I hold them in high regard and that I have strong feelings of affection for them. Love demands respect. I’ve found that no matter how warmly I feel towards a person there is no way I can call my feelings love unless I also respect them and their perspectives. Love is also about empathy, you see, and it’s difficult to take the point of view of a person you hold in contempt.

And love is about taking those feelings of closeness, affection and respect and becoming the ally of the person you love. We stand beside those we love. We’re their cheerleaders when the need it, we’re the people to take them aside and have a friendly and circumspect word with them when they are, as we’d say ‘round these parts, acting the maggot*.

I don’t love Youth Defence. No matter what they claim, they don’t love me.

What they call love, I call something else. Youth Defence don’t seem to understand that love is a special and particular thing. They don’t get that it comes with respect, dignity and listening to the other’s point of view. Their idea of love feels like a cloying thing. It’s the ‘love’ of an abuser who cries that you can never live without them, that if you walk out the door and leave them you’ll be nothing.

I don’t want love from strangers. I’m willing to bet that neither do you. What I want from strangers- what I’d be willing to bet that we all want- is an understanding of my equal dignity. I want strangers to accept that I, like them, am a person with the right to determine my own destiny. I want strangers to uphold my rights and expect me to uphold theirs. I want us to have an understanding that we work together to create a society where we all have these rights to support, self-determination and bodily integrity, and what we let love fall where it may.

I don’t want their love. I want respect not because of my unique human DNA or magical ‘soul’, but because I am a person. I have thoughts, wishes, dreams and fears and the ability to articulate them- something I share with every other person, a hell of a lot of members of different species (if you disagree with this I must introduce you to my cat), and no embryo on the planet.

There is no ‘Only Solution’, Youth Defence. There are millions of solutions to millions of issues faced by millions of people. Time for you to grow up and accept that.

edited to add: Oh my sweet & savoury Spaghetti Monster, I just realised how flippin’ creepy it is that they’re using the phrase “only solution”. I’ve managed to get through this so far without swearing but.. holy shiiiit, YD. What the everloving fuck do you think you’re doing?

*Free Hiberno-English lesson: that means being a douchebag. That’s right- a douchebag.

Speaking of Youth Defence..

Check out what lovely tweets they sent me!

Speaking of Youth Defence..

It’s almost like they’re proud of having nothing but US money to bring to the conversation. Baffling.

Silent Protest to Counter Anti-Choice Demo TOMORROW

Signal boosting from Unlike Youth Defence, I trust women to decide their lives for themselves:

On Saturday January 19th, a group called ‘vigil for life’ are demonstrating at Merrion Square at 16.30. We’re asking that a number of our followers join us in a counter-demonstration close by.

These people (whether they realise it or not) are protesting against the introduction of legislation that would save the lives of women living in Ireland.

They’re protesting against legislation that the majority have voted for in a referendum.

They’re protesting against a supreme court decision.

They’re protesting directly against what the ECHR says Ireland needs to do to protect the human rights of pregnant women.

We intend to protest silently, without the use of chants or shouting, with signs and pictures of women who have been denied their right to life and health because of this country’s antiquated abortion laws. We have lives too, and its time our government stepped up to protect us.

Please join us in our silent counter-protest. Please bring a sign if you can (it’s as simple as asking a local shop for one of their cardboard stock boxes and using paints or markers) to help get our message across without the need to attempt to shout the other side down.

We will be meeting at Merrion Square South between 4.30 and 4.45. We ask that people coming from town to meet walk across Baggot St, up Lower Fitzwilliam Street and over Merrion Square South (see map below). We ask that people not walk via Merrion Street Upper and past the government buildings, as adversarial confrontation with the Vigil For Life is not our aim in this and they will likely be gathered there. At least one of our members will be waiting at the meeting place early with a large pro-choice sign, so look out for her!

*Image taken from flyposters in Smithfield, December 2012 which were created to highlight the restrictive abortion laws which force women in Ireland to travel abroad while suffering in silence for fear of stigmatisation