Hi everyone, my name is Lauren and today we’re going to be discussing a very important topic that you’ve probably heard about in the news recently, well that is unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few months (which trust me, it’s been a cold few months we understand). That topic is the 8th Amendment and the call to repeal it.
So, you ask, what exactly is this fuss all about? Well that’s what I’m here to tell you. If you’ve got questions, I’ve got answers. So, let’s get started.
What is the 8th Amendment?
Article 40.3.3, known as the Eighth Amendment, was voted into the Irish Constitution by referendum in 1983. The amendment states: ‘The states acknowledge 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.’
What is pro-choice? What is pro-life?
Ireland is a democratic country, so people have the right to vote and have their opinions taken into consideration when an election or referendum takes place.
Pro-choice means supporting the legal right of a woman to choose whether to have an abortion or not. Pro-choice people are in favour of repealing the 8th, and believe that it is a woman’s body, so it is her choice as to what happens to her.
Pro-life however, means opposing repealing the 8th and want it to stay in place. The Pro-life side can also be identified by the ‘Love Both’ slogan.
An important thing to remember that in times of oppression if you sit on the fence you are siding with the oppressor. This means that if you decide that you don’t have an opinion on matters like this, you are allowing for the pain and the suffering to continue. Therefore, it is so important to understand why we want to repeal the 8th.
Why I am pro-choice.
I am pro-choice because I believe that it is so vital we give women choice. Choice over their own bodies and essentially over their own lives. Because right now we don’t even have that. Because I have spoken to and I have read about women who have been in the terrifying situation of needing this healthcare and being denied access to it from the safety of their own country, denying her of her basic human rights. Not only is repealing the 8th supported by many people in Ireland and many politicians, it is also supported by the United Nations who have stated that Ireland’s abortion laws are cruel and inhumane. It is time for change.
What are the effects of the 8th amendment?
The 8th means that according to The State a woman’s life is seen as equal to the unborn. This causes many complications for pregnant woman. Because the woman’s life is equated to the unborn, it is illegal for the mother to make decisions for herself if she is pregnant, therefore she can end up in extremely difficult life-threatening situations and have no say over it.
Because abortion is illegal in Ireland, many women are forced to travel to other countries such as the UK to seek the medical help that they need to terminate their pregnancy. This is an extremely costly, painful and dangerous journey. It is approximated that an average of twelve women a day travel from Ireland to access these medical services.
A common misconception is that only unwanted pregnancies are terminated, but this is not the case. There are many reasons why a pregnancy may be terminated; a woman may not feel ready to become a parent, they may not be financially stable, the conception of the unborn may not have been by consent, the unborn has an extremely low chance of survival. The list goes on and on, but that really is none of our business. What is our business is to recognise that this is an extremely brave decision to make and we should support these women who must make it. For too long, the women of Ireland have been shamed for having abortions. Let’s end it together.
For many years, men and women have been protesting to repeal the 8th Amendment from the Constitution. This has risen from the fact that for far too long this country has turned it’s backs on the women of Ireland and their reproductive rights. And soon it will be time to make that change.
It is now being put forward that a referendum will take place on the 8th Amendment. This will decide whether the 8th Amendment will remain or be repealed.
When will the referendum take place?
As of now there is no set date for the referendum, but we can estimate it will take place around the end of May this year. So, if you are 18 before then, it’s important to register to vote, to have your voice heard!
UPDATE: The date for the Referendum has been set. It will be held on the 25th May 2018. Polling will open at 7am and close at 10pm.
How do I register to vote?
If you are eighteen years old, or turning eighteen in the next few months and would like to register to vote here’s what you need to do;
- So first, you’re going to need an application form. To access this, you can go to www.checktheregister.ie and download the most appropriate form for your situation.
- Print this off and fill out all the relevant information.
- Once you’re all filled out, take your application form down to your local Garda station. Ensure you have the relevant ID too (your passport should be fine) and you’re all done.
What do I do now?
Well, whether you are legal to vote or not you can still help to Repeal the 8th. Talk to your friends and family, find out how they feel and let them know how you feel too. Keep your eye on the news for updates and information in the coming few weeks. It’s important that we discuss important topics like these for a safer Ireland. You can also get involved in the discussion online, but be careful – there’s lots of nasty people out there; remember to stay safe online and if you’d like to learn more about this you can read about that here.
If you have any other questions that I didn’t cover above, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
To read more by Lauren check out her blog.