Róisín Ingle . . . on free, safe and legal mugs

‘Big Brother is watching us and ignoring us and hoping we’ll stop bleating on about the misogynistic Eigth Amendment’

In the past few months I’ve been asked and have had to ask myself a lot of questions, ones I’d already answered and some new ones too.

In the past few months I’ve been asked and have had to ask myself a lot of questions, ones I’d already answered and some new ones too.

 

In the photograph I wanted to be captured drinking coffee from my “Free, Safe, Legal” mug. But when I got into work, there it was gone. It wasn’t on my desk. It wasn’t under the desk either, cavorting merrily with all the goodies I’d been quietly stashing for our annual charity Christmas fair, where myself and my mother have a standing gig at The Bottle Stall.

Not surprisingly, The Bottle Stall is always one of the most popular attractions at the fair. You pays your money and you takes your chances with the tombola. You might win a bottle of dry shampoo or one of wet Champagne. The fair was on last weekend but all I am saying is book early and often for next year. You can do your entire Christmas shopping there in one foul, frenzied swoop.

But where was that mug? It wasn’t in the office dishwasher. It wasn’t under my miniature desk-based Christmas tree, although the introduction of free, safe and legal abortion to this country would – in my opinion – be a wonderful thing to get from Santa or from whoever ends up in government in 2016.

I think a lot more of us will be bringing this issue on the doorsteps when the election is upon us. Although I might actually end up talking to fewer politicians this time because I’ll have this sign on my door: “Unless you have a policy that supports women in Ireland who need abortions, please don’t ring my bell.”

The mug: I’d grown fond of the thing. I don’t really get attached to stuff, being someone who loses a lot of it a lot of the time. There are benefits to being a loser; one of them is that the Buddhist teaching around attachment is less of an issue for us. “Everything is impermanent,” was the main mantra at my pre-children 10-day meditation courses. Yeah, Bud, who are you telling?

But searching for the mug as Katie, the photographer from the X-ile Project, waited downstairs to take my photo, I realised that in fact I was attached to this receptacle. Two lovely young women from the Abortion Rights Campaign gave it to me as a present when they came to my book launch in September.

Róisín Meets . . . Mike Murphy

They were intent on thanking me for the part in my book where I wrote about my own abortion 15 years ago. And it became a bit awkward because I was intent on thanking them, and all volunteers, for their tireless work on this issue long before I ever stuck my oar in.

In the past few months I’ve been asked and have had to ask myself a lot of questions, ones I’d already answered and some new ones too.

Questions about that decision to go to England. Questions about why I was finally writing about it 15 years later. I know many people are not in favour of abortion. But I also know that nobody has the right to force another woman to have a baby if that is not what they want to do.

In the end, I found another mug. If you look closely at the photo on the X-ile Project website where I am pictured on the roof of Irish Times towers, you’ll see that it is appropriate: it’s a 1984 George Orwell mug. Big Brother is watching us women, a dozen or so of us every day, as we leave Ireland to access reproductive healthcare in another country.

Big Brother is watching us and ignoring us and hoping we’ll stop bleating on about the misogynistic Eighth Amendment. The X-ile Project, which has been profiled in media outlets from Le Parisien to the New York Times, features photographs of some of the women who have left.

In the X-ile Project photo, I have a kind of half smile. I am thinking about Leo Varadkar. My feelings about our Minister for Health have been mixed this year.

On one hand, I have a gorgeous memory of sitting in my kitchen in springtime listening as he shared with Miriam O’Callaghan the story of his sexuality and his hopes that the country would support marriage equality in the referendum.

On the other hand, I listened to Varadkar more recently telling Marian Finucane that he would not be in favour of removing the Eighth Amendment from our Constitution.

On the one hand, he wants the right to equal marriage, which, happily he now has. On the other, he wants to deny women the right to access healthcare in their own county. No man in Ireland is forced to leave for medical care, but women leave here for this very reason every day.

All citizens are equal, perhaps, but some are more equal than others. As a woman in Ireland, it’s hard not to feel like a mug sometimes.

Public Displays of Emotion, by Róisín Ingle, is now available to buy from irishtimes.com/ irishtimesbooks

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.