As international pressure mounts on the Irish government to change legislation regarding abortion in the wake of the Savita Hallappanavar tragedy, the Irish Voice undertook a survey of Irish people in New York to get their views on the contentious matter, with 72 percent of 50 people surveyed saying that they would favor limited abortion being introduced into Ireland.
Jane Mahon, an architect, states that she doesn’t consider herself exactly pro-choice but thinks that such a tragedy cannot be allowed happen again.
‘I don’t really agree with abortion but to let a woman die in a hospital like that is not right either. I think maybe it should be allowed in certain cases like rape and if keeping the baby is harmful to the mother, like in the case of Savita. I think it’s all making Ireland look very bad. I saw a piece about it on CNN the other day, one of the biggest news channels in the world. That’s enough.'
Therese M, undocumented and working in a bar, disagrees with this stance and states that abortion is never the right option.
‘Finish this sentence…it’s alright to kill a baby when? Everybody says never but this changes for some reason when the baby is inside a woman. Out of sight out of mind but nobody knows how alive a baby is inside a woman. It’s awful what happened to Savita but a baby should never be punished for that. My grandmother had a hole in her heart and she was told that having a baby may be fatal. She had my mother and died 3 days later and my mother had 7 kids. Having a child is a sacrifice…the right thing to do is always the hardest.'
Jimmy N, also undocumented and working in construction, agrees with this, stating that everybody is getting too pent up over the issue.
‘Obviously it’s a tragedy and maybe could have been handled a bit better but I think everybody is just jumping on the band wagon without really researching the facts, without looking into things and seeing that a death like Savita’s does not happen that often…that’s why it made the news. People are using the tragedy and have an agenda to get abortion into Ireland. Legalising abortion is not the answer.'
Claire Nevelle, over on the year long graduate visa and living in Yonkers, disagrees with this and states that Ireland should catch up with the rest of the western world.
‘As usual, the Irish are slow in changing and make a big deal out of everything. As soon as abortion is legalised there will be no issue anymore. If a woman thinks that she cannot raise a child, if she is raped or too young why can’t she make the choice to have an abortion. Some people are just not meant to be parents. Why do we need to be made a spectacle out of as a country before we make a change.'
John B, living in Queens, agrees that abortion should be legalised but should be monitored closely so it doesn’t get out of control.
‘I am personally against abortion but I’m just very aware of the times and the society we live in. I think abortion should be legalised but should not be abused…having people treat it like contraception. Uh oh I’m pregnant again let’s get rid of it. I think people should be responsible. I think if we legalise abortion there should be procedures put in place where a person wanting to get an abortion should be made go to 3 or 4 visits with a counsellor beforehand to see if abortion is the right option for them so they can make an informed, educated decision and not just go in like they are getting their teeth cleaned.'
Moving to Ireland
After living in Ireland for almost one year, this is what I’ve learned