Understanding abortion rights on the Island of Ireland

On Tuesday 1st May, SIARC, along with Kezia Dugdale MSP, hosted a parliamentary event to further the understanding  of abortion rights in Ireland. With MSP’s, Doctors, Volunteers and our own campaigners in the audience, it was a moving discussion for all involved.

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Irish TD Opinions on the Abortion Referendum

“I am very, very disturbed and I believe I speak on behalf of tens of thousands of women across this country, that there is an attempt here to drag out the debate so that we can drag out the presentation of legislation before the house so that we can then drag out the inevitability of a referendum on the Eighth Amendment.”

– Bríd Smith, People before Profit

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I Believe Her.

When I saw the news my mind went blank, I felt like someone had punched me in the chest and the sickness travelled throughout my body. For a moment I was caught up in this hope that Ireland was changing, that people were learning and a new understanding was possible that we aren’t liars. We aren’t looking for attention or money or fame or to get one over on ‘one of the lads’.

I felt part of this movement changing the landscape of Ireland – a place where surely we’ll repeal the eighth amendment because times are changing, we trust women now. The Belfast trial felt part of that same movement to redefine a woman’s place in Ireland from one of suspicion to one of belief.

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Global Call to Irish Abroad – Pledge to come #HomeToVote to Repeal the Eighth Amendment

 

The London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign (LIARC) is leading a global call to Irish Abroad to come #HomeToVote, in partnership with International Irish Abortion Rights organisations 

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has announced a vote on Ireland’s abortion laws will be held by the end of May. If you’re an Irish citizen living away from home, then you may be eligible to take part.

You need to have been living outside of Ireland for less than 18 months. There is no postal vote from abroad, so if you are eligible and want to have your say, you will need to travel home to do so.

In May 2015, we saw thousands of people return home to support the vote for marriage equality. We want to emulate that movement.

No-one under the age of 50 has had their say on the Eighth Amendment, which effectively bans abortion in almost all circumstances, even in cases of rape or fatal foetal abnormality.

Since its introduction in 1983, more than 170,000 women have had to make the journey to Britain to access abortion services.  It’s estimated at least 1,000 people a year order abortion pills online.  

In May we’ll have a chance repeal this archaic law to allow the government to legislate on abortion provision. We can finally help to bring about a society, which provides compassionate healthcare for all our women and pregnant people. Every vote matters.   

Mary Jane Fox, who recently moved to the UK, has already pledged to make the journey home. 

“Even though I’m fresh off the boat in London, I’ll be making the journey and encouraging everyone I know to go back too. 

“It’s ironic that so many Irish women are forced to make the same trip in reverse to have an abortion. I want to travel home to make sure this comes to an end.” 

We’re pleased that Leo Varadkar is also standing with the women and pregnant people of Ireland, by acknowledging that the country has to stop exporting this issue and stop importing solutions. 

The question is simple – do we reform our abortion laws or do we leave them as they are? 

For every woman and pregnant person who has been forced to travel, for every family that has suffered and for our siblings, friends and communities, we urge you to go #HomeToVote for repeal. Be part of an Ireland that listens to and trusts women and pregnant people. 

We know some of you will still have questions, so we’ve done our best to answer them below:  

Q: WHEN IS THE REFERENDUM?

A: We are still awaiting confirmation of an exact referendum date. Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health, Simon Harris, have said that late May is very likely. Please hold back some annual leave so you’ll be able to travel #HomeToVote

Q: I’M CONFUSED ON WHETHER OR NOT I’M ELIGIBLE TO VOTE?

A: Whether or not you’re eligible to vote depends on how long you have been living outside of Ireland. 

Under Section 11 (3) of the Electoral Act 1992, Irish citizens overseas may retain full voting rights for a period of 18 months, should they intend to return to Ireland within that time frame. 

If you meet this criteria then please make sure you’re on the register

Q. I’M STUDYING OUTSIDE OF IRELAND. AM I ELIGIBLE?

A: If your course of study is less than 18 months in duration and you intend to return home in this time frame, then you will be eligible under Section 11 (3) listed above. 

If you are part of an Erasmus programme you may be able to apply for a postal vote. Check with your local authority for details

Q: WHAT CAN I DO IF I AM NOT ELIGIBLE TO VOTE? 

A: Plenty!

1. You can make a donation to the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment or the Abortion Rights Campaign.

2. You can find an a local group in your area and go home to help them canvass. Find a group here

3. Talk to people. Don’t assume your friends, families and neighbours at home are voting to repeal. Ask them how they are voting and use LIARC’s handy tips here to get the conversation started.