I get asked a lot why, as a male, am I pro life and why I’m voting No. It’s because of the Women in my life. My mum was a midwife in England and Ireland.  From as far back as I can remember, the impression of my mum’s work was that she helped bring babies into this world. Sometimes we’d hear about still born babies, babies who only lived a few hours, babies who were in the ICU.  There was sorrow, but the one thing that was clear to me was that we were talking about humans here, both mother and child. And there was something cathartic about those precious moments mothers got with their babies. Mum and her fellow midwives did everything they could be for pregnant women.

The 8th Amendment never once stopped them from doing their best for women. When I got older I asked my mum about her time in England as a midwife. What she witnessed still haunts her. She refused to take part,  but the sound of the procedure and the sight of the little, healthy babies lying in dishes in the corridor is something she still has to deal with. And those were babies lying there. And never once did she see happy women leave. She saw broken women. Those are her words. That’s what she saw. I come across some women in Ireland,  so fired up for abortion, never having seen, or heard what my mother witnessed. I admit, it’s hard for me to think about what my mum saw on those English wards. Thankfully she spent the majority of her career helping women and babies in Ireland.  She delivered most of my classmates! She’s an inspiration to me. And I trust her.

My girlfriend is stronger than me when it comes to this issue. When I hear her talk so passionately about how women deserve better than abortion, about the dignity of life, I know I have to be a man and support her as she fights for equal rights for mother and baby. She’s the best feminist I know. And I trust her.

My three sisters are three of the most outspoken, driven and feminist women I know.  And they’re all pro life. And I trust them.

My sister who is a doctor challenged me to reject the lies about Repeal and abortion being about healthcare. She sees life from the moment of conception.  It’s simple biology for her, a fact of life. She sees two patients when she treats a pregnant woman. She took an oath to care for her patients. Abortion is not care. We’re asked to trust doctors, but she’s seen doctors who are determined to suggest abortion first. I trust my sister, not because she’s a doctor, but because she sees the dignity of life. Not all doctors do.

My oldest sister is a speech and language therapist, many of her patients have Downs Syndrome or disabilities that they need help to communicate with.  Some of these people would have been classed as having so-called “fatal foetal abnormalities”, but what my sister sees are people who love life and want to share their hopes and dreams, which she helps them communicate and to achieve.

My sister who is a special needs teacher gives children who also would have been classed as having life inhibiting disabilities a chance to shine in life. She loves her job and it’s because she loves the children. They were protected, like all Irish children,  by the 8th Amendment from the moment of conception. We were ALL protected by the 8th. What protection is there if we repeal it?

I’m pro life because of women. I choose to stand up for mothers and babies. I respect the women who made me pro life. I trust them. I’m manning up. I’m voting No. Protect the 8th.

James Sweeney.