OPINION: Those L&H Abortion Debate posters

It’s not often that I blog from a personal POV on issues like abortion. I think it’s because as much as I’m Pro Choice, I have no clue what I would actually do/not do if I found myself in the situation – I’d just like to know I had a right to choose.

The latest storm in a tea cup comes from my Alma Mater, UCD. The Literary and Historical Society are holding an abortion debate and the posters promoting the event have caused quite a stir on campus.

L&H Abortion Debate posters currently displayed on UCD campus in BelfieldStudents have hit out at the posters labeling them offensive and inconsiderate. They’ve raised concerns about how these posters might make someone whose had an abortion feel about the whole thing. Those defending the posters say they spark debate and there’s nothing wrong with them.

My two cents on the issue? You’re getting it whether you like it or not I’m afraid.

First off, I can see that the L&H never intended to cause any harm with these posters. They were trying to get the debate going, get bums on seats and maybe even spice things up a bit. Except abortion isn’t just a topic for a spicy, vibrant college debate, nor is the shame and stigma that’s been attached to it since long before myself or most of the students in UCD were born.

What does the picture show? Someone throwing a child in a bin. Is that what the mothers who were brave enough to speak to the Irish Times earlier this year did? Is that what would have happened if ‘X’ had an abortion? Is that truly reflective of abortion as a whole? In my opinion, no.

Both sides deserve to be heard when it comes to this issue, both sides deserve equal representation regardless of whether you agree with them or not. Will some Pro-Lifers argue that abortion is like throwing a child in a bin? Yes, they might well do. I don’t think the L&H were taking sides on this one at all, I just think they may have done so without realising it.

Anyone who doesn’t like the poster or finds it offensive should come to the debate they said. Be grand they said. Except anyone who was truly upset/offended by this poster probably wouldn’t set foor in the Fitzgerald Chamber. It’s difficult enough as it is to get people to speak about abortion in this country. We’ve spent 20 years avoiding legislation for women whose lives were at risk and countless more associating sex, contraception and abortion with shame. You can’t watch a daytime television programme in Ireland without seeing half the presenters clam up/turn red at the mention of the bould thing, never mind see it discussed properly by our Government.

The women who spoke with the Irish Times were applauded for the bravery because they were some of the first to come forward, the first to take those tentative steps, knowing there would be some people out there with no compassion for them. If you want people who have gone through something like that to show up to your debate, sticking an image like that on your poster doesn’t really suggest that there will be any duty of care principles in place.

This isn’t about censorship and it’s got nothing to do with freedom of speech. It’s about having a bit of taste and a bit of cop on. There was no harm meant and yes, it got people talking, but that doesn’t make it any less tasteless nor any less of a poor decision in my eyes. That’s just my opinion.

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