Repealing the 8th – why we need it, and how to help

So this will be a bit personal, and a bit political. Those are very often the same thing here in Feminist CatBoat HQ.

In Ireland right now there’s a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment to the constitution. I’m not going to go on about it in any great length – Wikipedia can tell you all about it – but it essentially gives a foetus the same rights as the person carrying it – outlawing abortion almost completely.

I – and so many other Irish women – grew up in the shadow of the 8th amendment. I was a teenager when the X case happened. I was terrified to think that the state could exert that much control over me – to the point of actual nightmares. This was also a country where contraception was very difficult to obtain and where sex & relationship education was almost non-existent, so unplanned and unwanted pregnancies were common. I remember adverts for abortion clinics here in the UK being blacked out – actually censored – in magazines.

I got out. I got a university place in the UK, and I never moved back. The Ireland of twenty years ago didn’t feel like a country I could ever be happy in. When I go back now it feels like a far more open, liberal and accepting place. I cried actual tears (of joy) at the same-sex marriage referendum result a few years ago. I can almost see myself moving back someday.

But there’s still the 8th amendment.

The thing is, Ireland has abortion.

People travel over here every day to access abortion, and they take illegally procured (although usually safe) abortion pills. The pills can – although I don’t think there’s ever been a prosecution – lead to a 14 year prison sentence. They’re often seized on the way into the country, which is a huge source of worry. And someone experiencing problems or side-effects is less likely to seek medical help and ‘fess up to what they’ve taken.

The travelling over to the UK – the more common option – is expensive, and lonely, and difficult; scraping the cash for flights and hotels and the procedure together, very often organising childcare, taking time from work, fibbing to friends and family about where you’re going, and why. And – as with the pill option – aftercare can be a problem.

Ireland already has abortion. We just make a hard choice really horrible and difficult.

The other big problem with the 8th is that it makes healthcare during pregnancy and birth really difficult. You don’t want to have a caesarean, or an induction? You can be over-ruled. You’re miscarrying? It can be fatal. You discover that your much-wanted baby can’t survive? Carry it to term anyway.

I’m getting angrier as I type this post up – can you tell?

What can you do? What can I do?

I can’t do enough. I can’t vote. I can’t canvass. All I can do is rant about it from a different country.

If you’re an Irish/UK citizen and living there – make sure you vote!

If you’re an Irish citizen or resident, you can donate to Together for Yes.

If you’re not an Irish citizen/ resident

You can shop! (I’m the worst seller-of-things. I really don’t want people buying stuff they don’t need. And here I’m telling you to buy stuff?)

Let me know if I should add something to this list?

And you can help Irish people get home to vote

I’ll keep this updated!




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