The 8th is gone but the fight is far from won

Pic: Marc O’Sullivan

The referendum showed how much Ireland has changed and progressed but recent news shows that we must always be vigilant and continue to fight for free, safe and legal abortion access for everyone on the island of Ireland.

“Today is an anniversary worth marking,” says spokesperson Linda Kavanagh for the Abortion Rights Campaign. “Young people, especially young women, changed this country in a remarkable way this day last year. We achieved the impossible, we got a yes vote for free, safe and legal abortion access from almost every county in Ireland”.

She continued “We want to thank everyone who gave so much, who had the difficult conversations, who took their buggies down the road with their leaflets in hand to canvass their neighbours and who went out again the next day even after a bad experience. The campaign to repeal the 8th began decades ago and we want to honour those who started it, as well as those who brought it over the line. We also want to remember those who fought so hard and didn’t live to see the unstoppable force that the repeal movement became.”

“But we also want to acknowledge that the fight is far from over. There are significant issues with rural access and inconsistent provision. The 3 day waiting period is arbitrary and goes against medical best practice. It adds barriers that exist only to mollify people who do not support abortion in any circumstance.

Kavanagh continued “many people fall outside the restrictive 12-week limit and others, who should meet the criteria to receive care at home, are travelling due to the overly cautious interpretations of the law from doctors fearing criminal sanctions. Statistics released earlier this year showed that almost as many people continue to travel as have accessed legal abortion in Ireland. The compassionate change that we voted for last year should include these people too.”

28 people leave Northern Ireland every week to access abortion in the UK. We fight alongside our siblings in Northern Ireland because bodily autonomy must not end at the border.

“We await several changes in law including safe access zones and rogue crisis pregnancy agency regulation because, while the conversation has changed immensely in the past few years, stigma and shame are still rampant and we must do whatever is necessary to ensure that people are not misinformed or harassed while seeking healthcare. We also anticipate free contraception to be introduced as promised by the Joint Oireachtas Committee.”

The Abortion Rights Campaign will keep on advocating for free, safe and legal abortion access for everyone who wants or needs one. We will march on the 28th of September because no one will be left behind.

If you want to volunteer with the Abortion Rights Campaign sign up here: