The eighth amendment, or article 40.3.3 of the constitution, was passed into Irish law in 1983. The amendment states: ‘The states acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.’ The amendment equates the life of a pregnant woman with that of an embryo or foetus and has created a distinct difference between a pregnant woman’s life and her health.
Since its inception, the eighth amendment has sent 170,000 woman abroad to access abortion care. A further two women order abortion pills online everyday and administrate them themselves at home. On 25 May, we have the chance to change those statistics, we have the chance to create a healthcare system which will show compassion and care to women and families in their darkest hours. And that’s why, on 25 May, we must come together for a Yes vote.
Voting Yes is a vote against the ongoing discrimination of women in Ireland, it is a vote against the state having rights over a woman’s body, it is vote for bodily autonomy and a vote for compassion and understanding for women in crisis situations.
Right now abortion is happening in unsafe and insensitive ways, in bedrooms and in clinics in unfamiliar cities. Ireland needs to stop shaming and silencing woman. Ireland needs to stop pushing its women into isolation and forcing them on a plane to handle their own healthcare. Ireland needs to trust its women. Safe and compassionate abortions should be an option for any woman. You can disagree with abortion but you can’t disagree with women owning their bodies and having a choice.
The ‘Vote No’ side are of the opinion that the proposed abortion legalisation is ‘too liberal’ — they don’t agree with unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks. They think that abortion will become an ‘easy option’ and see it solely as killing babies. What the No side doesn’t realise is that no case is just black and white. Every pregnancy is different, and every woman faces different problems in different circumstances. Abortion will not become a form of contraception that women will use casually. But if we do succeed in repealing the eighth, Ireland’s women will at last be able to make this decision in the comfort of their own country surrounded by their families.
The eighth amendment was voted into Ireland at a time when divorce and contraception were illegal and a woman found pregnant out of wedlock was forced into a ‘workhouse’ and would have her baby taken from her after the birth. The eighth amendment is a stark reminder of the catastrophic way Ireland has treated its women in the past and it does not reflect the Ireland we have now or the Ireland we strive to be. The eighth amendment allows the state to interfere in the personal affairs of a woman and her family. We need to repeal the eighth to allow for compassion, care and choice for Irish women.
Every pregnancy is different, every decision is personal.
Le cheile le haghaidh Tá – Together for Yes
by Áine Freeman and Alexander Nitschke @WumpelPumpel
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