I grew up in the children’s home that my parents set up in North Wales. My siblings and I lived alongside some of the most disturbed teenagers in the country. Rape, paedophilia, starvation, incest, and the very extremes of physical and mental abuse were common themes in their background. The kinds of torture that these children endured, year after year, many of them from birth, would be hard for most adults to understand. Indeed, as a society, we simply don’t talk about it, it’s far more comfortable to pretend these children aren’t there. Whilst there are no statistics to prove how many ‘looked after’ children come from unwanted pregnancies, we can safely assume that many have. And whilst an unwanted pregnancy is a sad thing, an unwanted child is tragic. Even happy, stable couples who want their children struggle with parenthood. It is an act of not just stupidity but cruelty, to deny a woman who wants one, an abortion. It is very emotive to talk about ‘murder’ and ‘killing an innocent child’ as the anti-abortionists do, but if they realistically considered the future lives of an unwanted child, and see the probable misery that lies ahead, then perhaps they might understand that the kindest possible thing to do is to terminate the pregnancy.
I hope Brianna Parkin’s simple act of bravery on the Rose of Tralee inspires the Irish government to do what is right, and what is long overdue. Ireland does not have a proud history of looking after it’s less fortunate children – and I say this as someone who is part Irish, married to an Irish man and loves the country deeply. When Ireland is so forward thinking and progressive in so many ways, it’s stance on abortion proves an anachronism that has long passed it’s sell by date. Brianna Parkin, you did a brave, brilliant, inspiring thing. You didn’t just make a stand for Ireland’s women, but for Ireland’s children too.