A Ballot of None…

Last week they held an election here in Ireland.  From what I could tell, it wasn’t a “big deal”, though I could very well be wrong about that.  My co-workers and Irish friends didn’t seem overly concerned about it and only a few of them voted.  There were banners for each side hung on lamp posts about town, but I didn’t notice any obnoxious, scare-tactic adverts on the telly or a huge amount of coverage in the news, and I certainly didn’t receive any robo-calls.

But even if this election was a big deal, even if I was bombarded with adverts and phone calls and debates and signs and whatnot, it wouldn’t have mattered.  I’m not a citizen of Ireland so I can’t vote here.  I can vote in the US, I can vote in Italy, but I have no say about what happens in the country in which I choose to live.  And I understand that – I don’t think that just because I live here I should automatically be given the right to vote here.  But still, it sometimes gives me pause.

When moving to Ireland progressed from possibility to reality, I really struggled with the fact that I was moving to a country where abortion is illegal, where a woman does not have the right to choose about what happens to her own body.  And, soon after I arrived in Dublin the tragic and preventable death of Savita Halappanavar brought the abortion issue in Ireland to the forefront.

But this is a fact of life as an ex-pat.  In choosing to move to Ireland, I chose to move someplace where I would not have a voice at the polls, where I cannot lodge my assent or dissent on issues – many of which are very important to me.  This is a sacrifice I have chosen to make and with which I must live.

However, that does not mean I must sit idly by. There is a push amongst the pro-choicers in Ireland for a referendum to at least amend the current abortion law.  This is something I would whole-heartedly support.  I will enthusiastically attend rallies, engage in thoughtful debate, and encourage people to get to the polls.  But that is all I can do.  A ballot will not be cast by me, cannot be cast by me.

But I will still do what I can to make my voice heard.

 

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3 thoughts on “A Ballot of None…

  1. The election you wrote of wasn’t a general election but a referendum to abolish the Senate the upper chamber of Parliament. As is common with most parliamentary democracies the upper chamber is little more than an appointed talking shop. The referendum to abolish was defeated and the Government has started process of legislating to open up elections to the Senate to universal suffrage with limited remit power to follow.

    The tragic death Savita Halappanavar brought into sharp focus the abortion law in Ireland. Limited abortion has been quasi legal for the last 20 years as a result of a Supreme Court ruling. However it wasn’t codified into national legislation. This legal grey area had in the past led medical professionals to question as to when a life saving abortion was legal. As a result of Savita Halappanavar case national legislation was recently pasted to give effect to the Supreme Court ruling 1992 that abortion is legal only where the physical or mental life of the mother is at risk.

  2. i am so glad you wrote this, shannon. i guess i’m so accustomed as an american to having the legal right to choose, i didn’t even realize that it was still illegal in ireland. however, i do understand that religious beliefs play a part in much the same way they do here in the U.S. unfortunately, there are folks here in the U.S. who wish to return to those bad, old days before a woman’s right to choose was made law. i’m scared for us…and for all those irish woman who’ve never known that choice.

  3. Pingback: Making History… | The New Dubliner

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