Róisín Ingle and ‘An unwritten Experience’
Sir, – Róisín Ingle is to be admired for her courage in revealing publicly that she took the difficult decision to have a termination (“An unwritten Experience”, Magazine, September 12th). Her admirable honesty may be the catalyst needed to persuade people that change to existing legislation is necessary. – Yours, etc,
MICHAEL C O’CONNOR,
Sir, – Róisín Ingle’s abortion story is important to hear, as are all the different stories of women who have faced difficult decisions regarding an unplanned pregnancy. There is no doubt that those at both ends of this debate will argue their points of view passionately. But what must be important is that those publicly supporting either view acknowledge the need for balance. There must be sensitivity from both advocates of the pro-choice and pro-life positions, the former being open about the importance of abortion time limits and the latter accepting there are some exceptionally difficult circumstances that woman may experience. We might be all the better for it, as we head into another debate on the issue of abortion. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I have always liked Róisín Ingle and I like her even more now. History, in the main, will be kind to people who happen upon a time in their lives to “step up”. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – In the marriage debate earlier this year, the media adopted a successful formula – one celebrity after another was wheeled out, who was either gay, had someone belonging to them who was gay, or was just well-disposed towards gays, and they were given very sympathetic media coverage. The referendum debate then became about tolerance, and restitution for past prejudice, rather than about the definition of marriage and family.
The formula worked, and it is now being employed to promote the media’s abortion agenda. Anyone who disagrees with Róisín Ingle can be portrayed as intolerant and judgmental, and lumped in with the sort of people who have sent nasty letters and emails to Róisín over the years. Will we now have a spate of contributions, from other well-known people, who also have had abortions and who also feel victimised and offended that their essential goodness is not being recognised by their compatriots?
I am opposed to legalised abortion because I think that every human life is precious. Our media is dominated by people who think otherwise, and who systematically promote their views. That is my sole reason for engaging in these debates. It is not about Róisín Ingle’s feelings. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I have never had an abortion. You can draw no conclusions about me from that statement. That statement tells you nothing about me or my morality, it tells you nothing about my sexual habits or my sexual history and nothing about my lifestyle or life choices.
It tells you nothing about my lived experience or my life.
Secrecy and stigma shroud abortion in Ireland. Abortion stories are not openly shared and so discussions about repealing the Eighth Amendment have tended to focus on facts and figures rather than on personal stories and lived experience. Conclusions are drawn and presumptions made about women who have had an abortion purely on the statement of that one fact.
When presented with facts and personal stories during the marriage equality campaign, the Irish public demonstrated a huge capacity for compassion. In the absence of personal experience it was with that kind of compassion that I began reading Róisín Ingle’s abortion story in The Irish Times.
As I read, I realised that my compassion had an unconscious companion – judgment. I made judgments about Róisín as I read her story. I found myself thinking in clichés that are in complete contradiction to my current considered opinions. I had empathy too but it was tempered by judgment.
My unconscious prejudices are clearly deeply ingrained. Thankfully, I am aware that the culture in which I was raised and the religious indoctrination that I was subjected to, will, even now decades later, influence my thoughts and behaviours.
It is clear that I still retain implicit prejudices. Thankfully as a psychologist I have some understanding of prejudice and stigma and so I regularly question myself and self-check for prejudice to ensure that I don’t act on it. I commend Róisín’s unapologetic honesty and I urge everyone to self-check for prejudice should someone share their abortion story with them. – Yours, etc,
School of Psychology
Trinity College Dublin,
Sir, – Congratulations on Róisín Ingle’s brave and unstinting account of her experience. I, for one, am with Róisín in her fight for justice for the countless women who have little or no rights over their own bodies. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – We are relegating the women of this country to second-class citizenship, telling them that the basic human right to bodily autonomy is not one that we can trust them with.
We have successfully passed one equality referendum this year. It’s past time for another. – Yours, etc,