Both Lives Matter was formed in Northern Ireland to speak into the legal and social position on abortion there, and it must be seen in that context. An opinion piece, printed in the Guardian on Friday 4 August, attacked the name of the campaign – always the sign of a weak argument. Can’t we believe that Black Lives AND Both Lives Matter? It’s not a competition, or at least it shouldn’t be.
Then again, history shows us that certain categories of people will see life in all its forms, as a competition, and will seek to expunge or at the very least oppress others to retain or attain their own power.
If oppression is the means by which any individual or grouping of human being achieves freedom, it’s too high a price to pay and one that we should never agree to.
With that in mind, Both Lives Matter reject as inhumane the definition of equality most commonly presented by those who claim to be pro-choice – that to be equal to men, women must enter into an interminable battle with what is unique to them – their biology. On these terms, equality for women, appears to be defined by access to abortion.
Equality for women should be inclusive of our fertility, pregnancy and motherhood, never excluded by them.
BLM’s position does not sit well with those who are committed to the ideology of abortion and it doesn’t suit the pockets of those who are profited by the provision of abortion services. So it’s not a surprise to us that we are misunderstood, or even misrepresented. It’s also disappointing when those who claim to speak for women’s rights seek to deny other women a voice.
In December, BLM applied for a space at the Northern Ireland Human Rights Festival, to discuss the subject of abortion and human rights. Abortion is not a human right as the Court of Appeal in Belfast has recently confirmed.
Representatives of the Belfast Feminist Network attempted to have the event removed from the festival and the chair resigned in protest, when others with a higher value on the right to free speech kept the event in.
Now Elizabeth Nelson (Belfast Feminist Network) continues to claim that BLM is misleading the public, with our message that 100,000 lives are being lived today because of abortion law in NI. However the Advertising Standards Authority dealt directly with that and it was rejected. It is unfortunate when ideology blinds people to the evidence.
BLM exists to stand for and with women and their children. Many of us are women and children. And we are very aware that in 2017, we in Northern Ireland are at a cross roads when it comes to policies regarding pregnancy crises and abortion. We take this seriously because it is a life and death issue. There are fifty years of UK government statistics and lived experience that can contribute to the future social policies for women and families in NI and we should consider these carefully, not ignore them.
Do we in NI blindly continue down a path that pits women against their unborn children and offers equality only within the parameters of a womb-less biology? Or can we imagine better and strive for more because Both Lives Matter.
Both Lives Matter has a vision for NI. We imagine a people and place that values the life and health of women and unborn children and pursues the wellbeing of both. And our voice will not be silenced.