[Brussels, 16 May 2018 ] On Friday, 25th May 2018 Ireland will hold a national referendum on maternal and reproductive rights. Currently Ireland has one of the most restrictive laws on access to abortion in Europe, and pregnant women and girls are not treated with the respect and dignity afforded others when accessing healthcare.
The referendum will ask the Irish people whether to remove the Eighth amendment to the Irish Constitution, first introduced in 1983: ‘The State 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.’
- NWCI Protests 8 March
This one sentence has had significant impact on the lives of women and girls in Ireland, and their families and friends. It means that the life of the foetus from the moment of conception has an equal right to survival as that of the pregnant person. This ties the hands of medical practitioners and means women cannot legally and safely access abortion in Ireland. An average of twelve women per day travel to the UK to access abortion care. These women often have families of their own, need to save to make the trip, or cannot travel due to poverty, migration status or another barrier. Some have received a diagnosis that their wanted baby would not survive birth. On average, three women per day take illegally obtained abortion pills in their homes without adequate medical care, risking up to 14 years’ imprisonment. You can find out about many of these women from the ‘In Her Shoes – Women of the Eighth’ campaign. Women have died as a result of these laws.
- Catriona Graham EWL Policy Officer and NWCI members
The campaign to repeal the Eighth amendment is the result of grassroots activism happening since the Eighth was first introduced, but rose to new levels following the death of Savita Halappanavar. Our National Coordinator, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, are Co-Directors of Together for Yes, the national civil society campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment. They have been campaigning for more than three decades alongside their member organisations and the women and men of Ireland to call for change. They are seeking recognition of the reality that Irish abortions happen every day. They are calling for care, compassion and support to be offered to all women and girls in Ireland in their time of greatest need.
We stand in solidarity with the women of Ireland. #Repealthe8th.
Picture: #Repealthe8th photo moment in front of the European Parliament Brussels