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What a month. First the European Court of Human Rights tells Ireland to get its house in order and make life-saving abortion services available to women here. Shape up and reform your laws, the situation is no longer tolerable, the court told the Irish Government in December. Now mega-chemist Boots announces that they will sell the morning after pill to any woman over the age of 18 who requests it. Talk to a pharmacist, meet the medical criteria, come up with €45 and you can use this effective, tried, tested, reliable medication. Everyone else in Europe has been doing it for decades, so why can’t we? Well sisters, yes we can! From today, we can. We might pay slightly more to do so than women in other countries, but yes we can.

The tide has turned. It’s going out on an era of repressive, fundamentalist theistic control of women in this State and it’s time to make some sandcastles. Of course, one morning-after pill does not a revolution make. Well, yes, actually it does. For those of us whose small, personal revolutions have been facilitated by the ability to control our fertility… for those of us who have taken emergency contraception when we needed to …. for those of us who have avoided undesired pregnancies… for those of us who have had a choice that begat more choices, the morning-after pill has meant a personal revolution. And sure isn’t the personal political? Hell yeah.

Women in Ireland are about to cross the Rubicon. It’s not that we couldn’t get the morning after pill – the Irish Family Planning Association and other organisations have brave-faced opposition from religious fundamentalists and a reluctant State and made it available to women via their clinics. And GPs are willing to prescribe it too (some GPs that is). Technically we could get the morning after pill it’s just that it has been hard. If you’re lying in bed in Kerry with a beautiful boy and a burst condom and it’s Saturday morning, getting hold of emergency contraception to use when it is most effective has been a scary chore. If more chemists follow in Boots’ footsteps (and they will) emergency contraception will become widely available across the State – particularly at weekends, when it is most needed. For women in Ireland, using emergency contraception will become a financial transaction stripped of moral judgment, a decision for an individual woman to make when she has weighed up her individual circumstances. Not a decision for a priest or a refusenik GP. Not a choice denied to her because of where she lives or what day of the week it is. Hallelujia. Choice is truly liberation.
It’s a good day for Irish women. So many of them have worked hard to get here and it’s an achievement we can all share. We stood up for ourselves and kept demanding. Of course, it’s ironic that it has taken a multi-national pharmaceutical retailer making a commercial decision to finally open the doors, but sometimes you take victory where you can find it. It is a victory for choice, freedom and dignity. See, we can make our own decisions. We are responsible adults.

Things are looking up.

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I’ve been doing a lot of ranting here recently. Actually, I do a lot of ranting in real life, too. But I am also capable of feeling joy! No, really. Here are some things that are currently making me happy.

1. Dear Science by TV on the Radio. This is the best album I’ve heard in a long time. It’s a little bit talking Heads, a little bit Sufjan Stevens, and it is totally freaking awesome. It’s impossible to walk down the street listening to ‘Golden Age’ on an iPod without strutting. This song makes me so happy. As does its deadly video:

2. This story about Kristin Pass, a girl with Down’s Syndrome who was chosen as Homecoming Queen by fellow students in her Texas high school. Over on Jezebel, some commenters wondered whether Kirstin was the victim of a vile Carrie-esque prank, but from the comments by those who know the town it really seems like this was a genuinely nice gesture of affection and support that made Kristin very happy.

3. Stomping around in winter boots. I plan to buy these ones tomorrow and march through some leaves.

4. There’s a new Philip Reeve book! And it is very funny and charming, and anyone with an appreciation for vintage children’s fiction and/or steam-powered spaceships will love it. Reeve is the author of the best kids/young adult/whatever books written over the last decade, the Mortal Engines Quartet, which are emotionally and morally complex, very funny, very moving, and feature one of the greatest, most fucked-up anti-heroines ever. They also feature cities that move around on caterpillar wheels and “devour” other cities as part of a social system known as Municipal Darwinism, and are set in probably the best-realised fictional universe I’ve ever encountered. Why is turgid Philip Pullman both hailed as a genius and a huge bestseller and no one (well, outside all the people who’ve given him awards) seems to know about Philip Reeve? He deserves to be a household name. It is a mystery. But he is brilliant, and the new book is entertaining me greatly.

5: These pictures.

6. New winter knitting projects. Last night I started this jumper by Wendy Bernard from her excellent book Custom Knits (sorry about the dodgy quality of the image, it was the only pic of the jumper I could find online.

So what about you? What is cheering you on this miserable October afternoon?

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