FOR OUR DAUGHTERS, WIVES & FRIENDS: THE MEN GOING #HOMETOVOTE
Irish citizens all over the world will make their journeys home to vote this week. We asked some of the men making the trip about their motivation for voting YES.
Nick Sanquest, London
I have always used my vote, believing it to be a hard-won privilege. For the Eighth Amendment referendum, it's a necessity.
I moved to London about six month ago. Money is a bit tight to afford to get back to Cork. But that in itself is an insight on why it's so important to make the trip.
The effort I have to make is not even a drop in the ocean of the pain, conflict, shame and turmoil that an Irish woman would feel having to make the journey to Britain for a termination.
If all I can do right now is to put an X on a ballot, then that's what I'll do.
Many think that a man can't understand, and that's true. But we are still involved as fathers, brothers and sons. Sometimes difficult decisions have to be made around pregnancy, mortality and the various dilemmas that we are never quite prepared to deal with.
For those times we need empathy, not exile.
GERARD O'KEEFE, BERLIN
I've been living in Berlin for eight months now. I'll be flying home to Waterford to support the women of Ireland and let them know that they are respected, trusted and equal. When anyone is in a crisis or difficult situation, they should be supported by their country and its services, instead of being shut out.
The decision to have an abortion is not a light one and while someone has to go through that emotional journey, they should not be forced to also make a shameful physical journey to England for the support they need. It's archaic to pretend that something isn't happening and let another country sort out your issues.
We need to wake up and speak up.
Ireland is a beautiful place full of incredibly compassionate people. Just like the Marriage Equality referendum in 2015, we have an opportunity to show how much we value eachother and are open to eachother's stories and all they include - the happiness, the joy, the heartache and the pain. Our stories, songs and poems all reveal how passionate and caring we are as a nation, now let our Constitution reflect that.
Gareth Gregan, Brussels
I've been living in Brussels since June 2017 and am returning home to Clare to vote Yes on May 25th. I'm doing so because it is time we accepted the realities and complexities of life. Abortion is a reality for thousands of Irish women.
They are not some abstract group. They're your sisters, daughters, colleagues and friends and they deserve better. I've grown increasingly angry at how the No campaign have taken an interest in providing "maternal supports" for women experiencing unplanned pregnancies as some form of alternative to abortion. They live in a fantasy land, one which is cruel and saturated in the same morality that dealt Irish women an incalculable number of wrongs in the 20th century.
While many of the cases being spoken about in the media are "hard cases", many are not. It should not make any difference because at the end of the day, it really is none of these people's business. It takes a particular level of arrogance to insert your beliefs into a stranger's pregnancy. They say "LoveBoth" but they love neither.
On a personal level, my mother has spoken publicly about her experience of a crisis pregnancy (her baby was adopted under Ireland's closed system) and called for people to vote Yes. She would not have chosen an abortion, yet the ability to control her pregnancy was taken away from her. This inflicted a trauma that all members of my family still live with today. When a woman is pregnant she is incredibly vulnerable and she needs all of the space she can get to make the decision that is correct for her. The Eight Amendment deprives women of that space.
Patrick Kelleher, Cambridge
I've been living in Cambridge since October last year and will going to be going home to Roscommon to vote Yes on the morning of May 25th.
This is something I’ve been a supporter of since I was 18, when Savita Halappanavar died in a Galway hospital after she was denied a termination, even though she was already miscarrying.
Savita’s death was the first time I became aware of just how restrictive Ireland’s abortion laws were. In the years since, I have heard so many horror stories about the Eighth Amendment, from couples forced to travel for terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities to teenagers forced to flee their home country to have an abortion.
I want to see an Ireland where pregnant women are not treated like reproductive vessels. I want to see an Ireland where we have compassion and respect for women – one where we trust them to make their own choices about their own bodies.
David Staunton, Rome
I moved to Rome with my girlfriend Aoife last summer. We're travelling home together to vote to remove the Eighth Amendment on behalf of all the women and girls in Ireland who do not have a choice about what happens to their bodies.
I know women that have been forced to travel abroad to terminate their pregnancies for whatever personal reasons and it is not an easy decision to make, particularly when they are made to feel like criminals.
I trust Irish women that whatever decision they make will be the right one for them. Until they have full body autonomy Ireland will not be an equal place.