Make America great again? Look to Ireland

"What we have seen today really is a culmination of a quiet revolution that's been taking place in Ireland for the past 10 or 20 years." — Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar

As our current president is working overtime to drive America back into the Stone Age under the pretense of "Making America Great Again," Ireland is marching into the future. On May 25, by a significant majority, Ireland voted to end the ban on abortions.

"This has been a great exercise in democracy," Mr. Varadkar said, "and the people have spoken and the people have said: We want a modern constitution for a modern country, and that we trust women and that we respect them to make the right decisions and the right choices about their own health care."

"No more doctors telling their patients there is nothing that can be done for them in their own country," he said. "No more lonely journeys across the Irish Sea. No more stigma. The veil of secrecy is lifted. No more isolation. The burden of shame is gone."

Meanwhile, back in America we are driving at breakneck speed in the opposite direction. We are being led by a man who holds women in low regard. He thinks of women as objects; pieces of meat to be used; paid for and then discarded. Any consequences that may occur in their encounter are the burden of the women. And not to worry, as he is going to do everything in his power to make that burden heavier, because he has no respect for women.

When he was campaigning he said that he would overturn Roe v. Wade "automatically" by appointing pro-life Supreme Court justices. He's already followed through on this promise loading up our judiciary with right-wing, pro-life judges.

His lifelong actions serve as a reminder that he views unwanted pregnancies as the woman's problem. It is the woman's fault for not taking the necessary precautions when having sex with a horny old married man willing to cheat on his third wife immediately after she gave birth to his son.

Hey, the woman should know better than to have unprotected sex. That's her problem and if she gets pregnant then that's her problem, too. And should she get pregnant we will want to hang the mantle of shame around her neck, because it's clear she's at fault. We need to ensure the stigma wraps her up tightly and remains with her forever. After all, in the mind of our leader, along with way too many men, women are still second-class citizens who should never have been awarded the right to vote.

This November's election may (or may not) demonstrate that the women of America are equally as fed up as the women of Ireland. True, abortion has been legal in America for many years, but women's rights have been under siege every single day since. Old, white men run the country and in their minds women should be chained to sink and grateful that the man of the house provides her with dish detergent.

I'm getting the sense that American women are becoming more than a little fed up with the status quo. The "Million Women March" was the first indicator. Stacy Abrams primary victory in Georgia is another. To date, 575 women are running for high office. We should be hoping and praying they win.

Yes, there will be many people who will be distraught should more women come to power, but they can take solace in these words from Ireland's prime minister:

"To those who voted no, I know today is not welcome," Mr. Varadkar said. "You may feel that the country has taken the wrong turn, is no longer a country you recognize. I would like to reassure you that Ireland is still the same country today as it was before, just a little more tolerant, open and respectful."

Bob Stannard's column appears regularly in the Bennington Banner. He lives in Manchester Center.


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