Seeing my voice make a difference was incredible

Figure eight on a maroon background with "Repealed 25th May 2018" across it in white text

Trisha Harrington – Offaly ARC

Repeal was a huge turning point in my life. It was my first time getting active in the change I wanted to see in my country. It was an accumulation of not having the courage to get more involved in marriage equality and anger I felt about the existence of the 8th amendment. I remember reading the stories, both old and new, and spending hours on the In Her Shoes page reading story after story of people being forced to leave the country in order for them to receive the medical attention they so desperately needed. It broke my heart and made me angry, so many stories, so different and yet, all with the same result. Pregnant people forced to leave the comfort of their homes, the support of their families, to hop on a plane for a medical procedure, or risking their freedom by breaking the law and ordering medication online, risking their lives all at the same time. It was the stories that gave me the final push and on a sunny Saturday afternoon I joined a local stall. It was nerve wracking at first, but the people were so amazing and supportive, I was never alone, it was very empowering.

That first stall was monumental in my life. The second left an impact too, but for a different reason. An angry person tried to change my mind. He was there for a fight, maybe, or just to be heard. There were times I was uncomfortable. There were times I was mad. There were times I wondered what the hell I was doing. But once it was over, I felt more empowered than ever to fight for the rights of the people in my country. It was the first time I knew I could do more than stalls but canvassing too. I feel like we got more personal there. People were more willing to share their stories, and some more willing to listen. They also wanted to know more about why I supported repeal and why it meant so much to me and during this time and it was hard for me to articulate my reasons without rambling but soon that got easier too.

Seeing my voice make a difference was incredible and filled me with a hope I hadn’t felt before. There was always the apprehension that we wouldn’t succeed. The no’s felt like the loudest voices most of the time and it was not easy to avoid some of the more vitriolic lies and comments online. It all hit so much harder when it was the voice of someone I knew, the voice of someone in my life. But with time that got easier too.

And then came the point where I no longer cared about the hate from others, where it all rolled off my back. I was openly wearing my repeal jumper and proudly answered questions from those who approached me. It wasn’t often and most were civil but there was a time not long before where I would have crumbled into a million pieces the second a question was asked. But the campaign had changed me. I was stronger and more confident than I had ever been before.

Then came the night where the election poll was revealed. The 8th amendment was gone. Repeal had won. All the hard work had paid off. Ireland was about to become a better country to live in as a person to get pregnant. My future was brighter and the future of many other people. My generation and all future generations would have a more compassionate place to call home.

It’s been two years now and abortion is now legal. Change has come to the North too. I have never been so proud. But the fight is not over. There is still room for improvement, and I will fight for that too. But today I will bask in the joy of how far we have come and the little part I played in it.