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.