Thinking about May 25th 2018 I am flooded with memories. I realised my repeal story was so many things.
It was exhilarating to join arms with like-minded people, canvassing at doors and on the streets of North Dublin.
It was joyful to experience the highs of meeting smiling, supportive Repealers.
It was punishing to be met sometimes with angry, abusive door-slammers.
It was liberating to honestly examine and unpick my own prejudices and emotions around abortion and women’s rights, and it was challenging to talk about these private and emotional topics with strangers at the doors.
It was heart-wrenching to hear of countless Irish families who left our shores in search of basic healthcare.
It was uplifting to openly communicate with aunts and uncles scattered throughout rural Ireland and encourage them to ask questions, reach out, and keep talking.
It was worrisome to read the media’s daily headlines stoking the flames of conflict.
It was a privilege to play a small part in such a hugely influential grassroots movement spearheaded by courageous women who believed so deeply in its success.
Standing on Grafton Street on May 24th 2018, I remember pleading one-last-time with strangers strolling by to “trust women”, to let us decide what is best for ourselves. As evening fell on the eve of the vote, I struggled to accept there was really nothing more I could do. I had given the campaign my all and left every last drop of dedication on those paved streets. I remembering trudging wearily to a nearby café where I was lucky to share a quiet moment with two great friends and fellow Repealers. We cried and hugged each other and hoped we would meet again soon in an Ireland that we would be proud to call home, that would allow choice, that would have repealed.
Driving home to vote the next morning, I parked up beside a “Love Both” sticker-laden car. I’ll never forget it. I nodded and lifted my head in determination as I went in to cast my vote. I voted yes for safe and legal healthcare in Ireland. I voted yes because I realised voting no would not stop abortion in Ireland, it would only continue the shame and secrecy. I voted yes for me, and for you, for our friends and family and for the men and women of Ireland in the past and the future.
The Repeal campaign was many things. And most of all, it was so worthwhile.
The country has listened. Women have spoken.
– Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital, on Ireland’s historic repeal of the Eighth Amendment on May 26th 2018.