In this occasional series, we highlight policy ideas that can help make Ireland a more properly pro-life place; making pregnancy and parenthood easier and supporting …
We talk a lot at the Minimise Project about not wanting to just return to the pre-repeal status quo, but rather to build something entirely new: a society that properly and fully values both pre-born children and pregnant women.
We’re not going to build this kind of society overnight, but we want to highlight those initiatives which take small steps towards making it more real. In that spirit, kudos is due to Transport for Ireland, who last summer launched the ‘Baby on Board’ badge for use on public transport.
A couple of things about this. First of all, it’s great to see pre-born children referred to as babies: that’s what everyone calls them most of the time, because that’s what they are.
Second, this is a clever way of making what could be an awkward social interaction easier: actually asking to be given a seat is a bit of a bother, and reducing the awkwardness level at the margins leads to more pregnant women actually being offered seats, and thus to a slightly more pregnancy-friendly society. Creating a general sense that society is on your side as a pregnant women is good – among the many other benefits, it makes it that much easier to imagine being pregnant and makes people that much less likely to choose abortion. This would be a very small step towards creating that general sense, but a welcome one nonetheless.
Third, the badges have an educational effect: they don’t just remind people to offer a seat in the moment, they also help get the idea into people’s heads that behaving decently towards pregnant women is normal, expected behaviour. Normalising decency is good in my book!
So overall, the badges are a good idea. The less-good news is that they don’t necessarily work all that well. A friend of mine tried wearing the badge when she was in the later stages of pregnancy last year and a lot of the time people just ignored it. This could be because they were pig-ignorant, but the more likely cause is that they didn’t actually know what the purpose of the badge was.
What can be done about this? Well, this is one of those rare cases where just ‘raising awareness’ will actually help a lot. If you share this blog or TFI materials on the badge, you’re helping more people recognise it when they see it, and thus helping it to better serve its purpose.
For pregnant women, it’s also worth thinking about wearing the badge even if you wouldn’t be particularly inclined to yourself. You might think that it’s making too much of a fuss, or that you’re happy asking for a seat, or just not be bothered with it in general. One factor worth weighing up against those is the collective benefit of wearing the badge: each additional pregnant person wearing the badge is another normalisation of it, making it more likely that it will be recognised and that the women who actually do want to use it will get some benefit from it. Of course there’s no obligation to wear it regardless, but these concerns might be something to keep in mind.
That’s all for today’s Pro-Life Policy spotlight. Tune in next time for more clever ideas to make Ireland a better place for mothers and babies.