This is year 34 of the existence of the 8th Amendment. Every day 12 people leave our little country to seek an abortion. Pro-Choice and Pro-Life are both passionate groups and neither show signs of shrinking away from the argument any time soon.
#Strike4Repeal was initially a direct action to demand that the Irish government call a referendum to Repeal the 8th by today 8 March. They haven’t done so.
You’re probably asking, “a strike, sure what’s that going to do?” and you may have a point. But take a minute and look at Poland.
Thousands marched in Poland last October to oppose the law that would introduce a complete ban on abortion in the country. Polish lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to reject this law.
If we all sit down arguing on Twitter all day nothing will be done but if we down tools in a show of solidarity and demand to be listened to eventually they will have to hear us out.
Sure, the government keeps saying this is something that needs to be addressed, but what did they do? Instead of the representatives we voted in to address and solve issues for us they palmed it off to a Citizen’s Assembly.
So again, what is the point?
Have people forgotten that brushing an issue aside does not mean that it just stops happening? The ones who can afford it can and will travel to the UK, meaning they are away from their home. From their own bed. From their family. Remember the #twowomentravel that was trending last August? The live tweets depicted the day of travel that these women endure each day, a reality that can no longer be ignored.
And what about those who simply can’t afford to travel? Their choices are even more limited. Over 5,600 Irish women sought abortion pills online over a five-year period according to a study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. While the majority were grateful for this option it is illegal and the side-effects a concern.
Why can’t we just support one another? Of course it is a complex issue and some feel that getting an abortion is the absolute worst thing a person could do but at the end of the day a woman is fully capable of making decisions. No one makes this decision without care. In a Utopian world we would not need to argue about the procedure. But unfortunately contraceptives fail. We are all human so sometimes we mess up and fail to take our pills correctly. Rape is something none of us can plan for or stop if it happens. And of course some will want to continue with their pregnancies but know that their child may only live a few painful hours.
#Strike4Repeal organisers are tired of waiting.
So are the 12 travelling each day.
They demand to be heard.
They deserve to be heard.
The day the amendment was passed in 1983 Mary Robinson, a lawyer at this time, spoke about the 8th Amendment and the ambiguous nature of its wording. How right she was. People tend to disagree strongly about when life truly begins. Is it at conception? At 12 weeks? At birth? Something Bunreacht na hÉireann simply does not clarify.
Nearly 25 groups have signed up to support the strike including Feminist Society NUI Galway, Abortion Rights Campaign, Parents for choice in Pregnancy and Childbirth, and Sex Workers Alliance Ireland.
It is clear that this is a highly sensitive topic that many of us feel strongly about. There is no doubt that those who are in the middle are sick of both sides sniping at one another on Twitter, wearing jumpers to spite the other side and are, most of all, sick of the lack of action.
The aim is very simple. No more delay tactics. No more ignoring the issue. No more arguing while our government avoids responsibility. Strike.
-By Shelly Hannigan