‘Roses Have Abortions Too’: Former Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins On Why We Need To Repeal The 8th

Brianna called for a referendum on the Eighth Amendment on the Rose of Tralee stage in 2016.

You might remember when, at the 2016 Rose of Tralee, Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins got on stage and told host Dáithí O Sé: “I think we can do better here in Ireland. I think it is time to give women a say on their own reproductive rights.

I would love to see a referendum on the Eighth coming up soon. That would be my dream”.

A furore followed – should Brianna have brought the Eighth Amendment up on live TV? Should Roses be allowed speak on political issues? In a piece for the Irish Times shortly after the ceremony, she wrote:

I don’t know why a girl in a ball gown and sash repeating the same thing that Ireland’s women’s-rights campaigners have been saying for decades has made such an impact. But the threats come quickly… I get pulled into a room with the media manager, who tells me I’ve “let him down”.

Two years on, the referendum Brianna dreamed of is happening, and she has returned to Ireland to see it through.

Writing again for the Irish Times today, she explains why she came back – and it’s all down to a conversation she had with a No voter in a Mayo nightclub.

“If I came home with you and I got pregnant, would you make me have a baby that I didn’t want?” “No.” “So what happens?” He pauses. “I don’t know.”

She said that since her turn under the Dome in Kerry, women have been telling her their abortion stories. Some of these women have been Roses.

“Yes, Roses have abortions too,” she writes. “A tiara doesn’t make you immune to a crisis pregnancy.

The Roses who have had terminations come from all over. From postcard Irish counties to conservative US states. Some had their abortions before becoming Roses; some after; one during. Some have gone on to have children when they were ready to. Some wanted to say something when I did, and apologised that they didn’t.

Brianna says that although she doesn’t have a vote in Ireland, she feels obliged to these Roses and her Irish grandmother, friends, and family to campaign for a Yes vote.

“We have asked Irish women to deal with the ‘I don’t know’. They have been getting up and on with it for too long. They deserve apologies. They best way to say sorry is to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Brianna’s piece is winning lots of praise from her admirers, including former Rose of Tralee Aoibhinn Ní Shuilleabhain:

You can read her full article here.

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