"The right to life of a woman is equal to that of a fetus" according to the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution. This was passed in only 1983. Prior to this abortion was becoming legal in more and more countries, including the UK, but Irish politicians and religious leaders increased the barriers to access legal abortion. There were even legal barriers in place to prevent people travelling to another country for abortion, or for others to provide advice to pregnant people as to where they could seek an abortion. It wasn't until 1992 people were legally allowed abortion to save their life. This information and horrifying stories can be found in the presentation by ARC here.
Religion should not be involved in law-making. It is a personal choice to follow a religion. Not every single person in one country is going to follow the same religion or even any religion. From what I know I can't stand it, to be honest, all faiths I have learnt about are misogynistic and impose on people's rights to their own bodies. Things like this need to be a personal choice. How dare people still control what others do with their bodies?! It's archaic.
If you believe life begins at the moment of conception, you are in a way correct. Sperm and egg are living things. But so are the cells on your legs that you exfoliate off and kill! They are human cells, why not just go ahead and ban exfoliation?! We have known for a long time now how embryos develop, they are not already mini-humans that simply grow in size.
Regardless of that, what business is it of yours anyway? If you become pregnant it should be your prerogative to choose to abort or not. Other people are not your business. If you personally think abortion is wrong, keep it to yourself, that's fine, choose not to if you end up in that situation. Who knows, you might need to change your mind if the situation ever does arise. No one else should be deciding for an individual what they should or shouldn't be doing with their body, and that applies to much more than abortion. The UN has previously found Ireland to violate human rights with their abortion laws (here) and it is. This needs to change.
"Why can't women just travel elsewhere for an abortion?" You might think. But that is not possible for everyone and is a very privileged way of thinking. Not everyone in Ireland can afford to travel out of the country, which is why the Abortion Support Network is vital as they provide financial help and accommodation. Some might not have access to childcare for their children and can't leave. Others might not be able to travel due to ill health, but they are still often denied abortion because their situation is not life threatening enough. Many women in Ireland have died because of this decision.
You may have recently seen articles or tweets discussing 'Repeal the 8th', which is a petition started in 2014 by the Abortion Rights Campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment I mentioned earlier.
You can sign this petition here so do it now if you have not done so already. Right now!
There are also events such as this one around the UK. Another way to help if you are unable to attend meetings and protests is by donating. You could donate to Women on Web, which is a digital community offering stories, help, and support to those who have had an abortion or need one across many countries and languages. Or to the Abortion Support Network who provide financial help and accommodation to those travelling from Ireland and the Isle of Man for abortion. Alternatively, you could donate directly to the Abortion Rights Campaign.
You can join the campaign to get involved in other ways here.
Poland has possibly been on your radar too due to the recently proposed legislation to completely outlaw abortion in Poland. At the moment abortion is illegal in Poland except in cases of rape, when the woman's life is at stake, or if the fetus is irreparably damaged. The total ban was rejected after roughly 10,000 women across Poland protested against it. However, Poland still has some of the strictest abortion laws in the EU, the fight is far from over.
I was inspired by this article to get more involved and to write this post. It's not something we can sit back and wait for. It's not something we can simply tweet about and cross our fingers. We need to help.