“Little surprises, shocks, unintentional… Mine was one of them.”

I have wanted to write this for a while – it’s a very topical subject at the minute, and I suppose that I, like everybody else, have a fear of either being told I’m wrong or that I will be judged for my opinion. But then again, like everybody else I am entitled to my own opinion and it is not up to me whether people agree with it or not. It is mine, and I can own that.

My opinion is about the vote on the 25th of May. It is about my vote. My No vote. A lot of you won’t care about my opinion, but if what I have to say helps one person make their decision, or even helps them see that it’s not black and white, then I’m happy.

Choice. Women don’t have a choice when being raped, girls don’t have a choice when being abused… Choice is taken away in these circumstances, and I understand that people feel that abortion should be taken in to give those women the choice.

The physical act of abortion is something that I don’t agree with; however, I understand when people say that abortion should be brought in for those severe circumstances. Nevertheless, I will be voting “No”. Not because I don’t agree with choice and rights, but because the referendum on the 25th would allow any individual to have an abortion up to 12 weeks, and a mental health review thereafter up until 23 weeks of gestation.

I understand that many people feel that “it’s my body and therefore my choice.” However, choice is a subjective word that is different for every individual. It’s also a word that I believe has been thrown around and misused in some circumstances. I respect every individual’s right to an opinion, and I admire every person who has spoken out in relation to either the yes or no vote.

I feel as though a yes vote is going to change and affect future generations to come more than we think. Their views on pregnancy, contraception, fear, and their view on intercourse and how they deal with pregnancies will all be different.

Up to 50% of all pregnancies in Ireland are not planned. They are “little surprises”, shocks, unintentional, and mine was one of them. I remember doing my test, and feeling the immediate fear of having to tell my mother. Thoughts flooded my mind: I hadn’t finished my degree, it wasn’t the best time, and I hadn’t been with the father very long. My “little surprise”, that little heartbeat was the reason for these reactions, but that heartbeat has also changed my life completely. I am the strongest and happiest I’ve ever been. I never knew you could love someone as much, or beam with pride at the silliest things, or be amazed at the small things: to see his little heart race at the 12 week scan, to feel his kick at 20 weeks, or for his strong leg to break my rib at 38 weeks! And now, at 13 months old, he has made me the happiest and strongest version of myself. He brings joy and smiles every day, and I have an unbelievable sense of pride in being a mum.

That heartbeat has also changed my life completely. I am the strongest and happiest I’ve ever been. I never knew you could love someone as much, or beam with pride at the silliest things, or be amazed at the small things: to see his little heart race at the 12 week scan, to feel his kick at 20 weeks, or for his strong leg to break my rib at 38 weeks! – Ní Ruanaigh Caoimhe.

Let’s go back to choice. I can choose if I want to get implants, lip fillers, dye my hair, use fake eyelashes or nails. I have a choice if I want to be an organ donor! The choice to kill another human being, however; is not something I want.

I believe there are so many more options than abortion – options that aren’t readily available, options that I know need to be considered and improved. Options like counseling, adoption, fostering, talking, grants, housing schemes, family support networks, and confidentiality lines. There are people in this country crying out for the ability to mother a baby whether it be through adoption or going through the foster care route.

Let me reiterate that if abortion was being brought into this country for the reasons I outlined above (severe circumstances), then although I don’t agree with the physical act, I might vote yes… But the fact of the matter is that if someone wants to have an abortion because the timing doesn’t suit, they don’t want a third child, they are afraid of telling their parents, they don’t know the father, it’s convenient… whatever your reason might be, there are so many other options. The choice to kill another human being isn’t one of them.

I feel fear is the biggest thing in relation to abortion: the fear of telling family, the fear of what people will think, the fear of “what will I do”, the fear of money, the fear that it will ruin everything… The pro choice are saying to “trust women”. Women need to trust themselves to know it will be ok, to know that they have so many options, to know that their families won’t disown them, to know that everything works out and that little 6,9,12 week baby will change your life for the better. He or she will make you look at life with a completely new light.

The question to ask yourself is Choice? Or Life?

I pick Life.

Ní Ruanaigh Caoimhe.