My own story is not unusual, not in Ireland. This says a lot. I was born in the 70’s in a convent, which housed unwed mothers. My birth mother loved me but could not raise me. Today, as a mother of four beautiful children, I can only begin to imagine the pain and anguish that it must have been for my mother to give me up for adoption, but also the sheer inner strength and ultimate love. She may have not planned or sought to become pregnant but she did choose life and for me to be born.
Her pregnancy was not easy and life was not kind to her. She kept the fact that I was growing inside her a secret; with no support, love, or kindness from her family. Many years later, when I was pregnant I remember proudly showing off my baby bump. And holding and rubbing my swelling stomach. In stark contrast, my birth mother wore a corset through most of her 9 months of pregnancy, to keep her secret.
I’ll take being “alive”!
Thankfully, we live in a very different Ireland today. Maybe not a perfect country but an Ireland that accepts single mothers, an Ireland where pregnancy is not something to be ashamed of in any circumstances and an Ireland that still values the life of a baby in her mother’s womb.
However, I often imagine what may have been different, had my birth mother lived in a country where abortion is readily available; for instance, a country like our nearest neighbour, the UK. I imagine what might have been, had abortion been an easily available option for her. I like to, and do believe, that she would have always chosen the same path; to give me life, but many other unborn babies may not have been so fortunate.
Today in the UK, one in every five pregnancies ends in abortion. 9 out of every 10 babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome have their lives ended deliberately, in their mother’s womb. The sad and shameful reality is that in the UK, ending the life of your unborn baby is not often the “difficult decision” that we are led to believe.
Finally, take a moment to ask yourself this: how many adopted people do you know today who were born in Ireland in the last 30-40 years? These children, of which I’m included, were born in a country that has protection for unborn babies. Then ask yourself this: how many of these adopted people would not be alive today, were it not for Ireland’s pro life 8th Amendment?
Being “planned”, being “chosen”, being “wanted and being “perfect”? I’ll take being “alive”!
By Sile Quinlan