I'm proud to be Irish most of the time. Not all of the time. Some of the time I'm embarrassed by my native country.
When it comes to "equality" Ireland has led the way in some areas, yet has failed miserably in others.
Women's rights in this country is one of our biggest failures.
Tomorrow the country will go to the polls. It will be the first time I will be able to vote on this important issue - the right for women to control their own bodies.
Ireland has traditionally been a very conservative Catholic country, but over the past 20 years we have evolved. Back in 2015 we voted to "make grá the law" and legalised same sex marriage. That referendum campaign was far from easy and the bigotry from some quarters of Irish society was quite shocking. I wrote about my views on the particular vote a couple of times.
Tomorrow the vote is to remove the restriction on abortion from the Irish constitution and to repeal the 8th amendment and change the language of article 40.3.3 which was originally introduced when I was only 10 years old and too young to vote.
With the language of the constitution changed it'll be up to the Irish parliament to legislate on how Irish women can access abortion services and receive proper health care in their own country.
The constitution currently contains this wording:
The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right. This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state. This subsection shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state.
The new text will read:
Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.
That means that it will be possible for our elected representatives to not only pass laws on how abortions are handled, but to change them over time. It is NOT a vote for "abortion on demand".
What it is, however, is a vote to end the insane reality that many Irish women deal with every single day of the week.
If you think that women living in Ireland are not dealing with terminations of pregnancy every single day then you are deluded. Of course they are. They're travelling to the UK. They're importing pills from abroad. They're being denied proper health care due to the current legislation. Some have even died because of the current law.
Choosing to have an abortion, under any circumstances, is not an easy choice. But women need to have the right to choose. Their doctors need to be able to provide them with proper care. We shouldn't be exporting our problems to another country.
I am a man, so if I have a health concern I can go to a doctor and seek help. It doesn't matter what is wrong with me. A doctor will help me. I cannot imagine a reality in which the doctor would be unable to give me the medical attention I needed, yet this is the reality that women in Ireland currently face.
This madness needs to stop.
Give women the freedom to choose.
Give women control over their bodies.
Respect women's reproductive rights.