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02nd Feb 2018

The Campaign To Repeal The Eighth Is Going To Get Ugly – We’re Going To Need One Hell Of A Game Plan


This week, the government finally announced that a referendum on the Eighth Amendment will be held before the end of May. 

Twitter was alight with people expressing their joy, relief and gratitude to everyone who has campaigned so tirelessly to get us this far. 

I felt happy, but down in the pit of my stomach I also felt a sense of dread – because the next four months are going to get very ugly. 

I’m planning to campaign for the Repeal side, both in Dublin and back home in Mayo, but the thought honestly terrifies me.  

I saw how my friends who fought for equal marriage were attacked and insulted by members of the public, left shaken and in tears. 

Based on what I’ve seen so far, I think it’s going to be even worse this time. 

I’ve been harassed on Facebook and Twitter, called a murderer and sent graphic pictures of aborted foetuses several times.

A “Love Both” van parked at the end of our driveway and we had to call the Gardai to get them to remove it. 

At the last March for Repeal, an elderly man wearing rosary beads grabbed me and yelled in my face – I can only imagine how bad the abuse is for prominent campaigners. 

The message of the “Pro Life” side is supposedly one of “love” but their behaviour is often hateful and completely lacking empathy. 

They pretend to care about saving lives but don’t care about the lives of women which have been lost or destroyed because they didn’t have control over what happened to their own bodies. 

Their comments range from general misogyny (“Why can’t women just keep their legs closed?” to outright lies (“abortion causes breast cancer”). 

They regularly exploit people with Down Syndrome to further their cause – last week Down Syndrome Ireland released a statement asking to be left out of the debate.

Not all those on the Pro-Life side use nasty tactics, and I don’t always agree with the behaviour of Pro-Choicers either. 

But it’s important to rise above the bullshit over the course of this campaign, even if you’re upset and emotionally drained. 

Talk to friends and family about the referendum, even if it’s uncomfortable.

There are lots of people out there who will never change their opinions, but there are also plenty on the fence.

People are slowly starting to listen to women’s stories – if the likes of Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin can come around, maybe your conservative cousins, neighbours and grandparents can too. 

Many people don’t really understand what the Eighth Amendment is, why it’s in the constitution and what it will mean if it’s removed. 

It’s our duty to arm ourselves with the facts and spread them around.

If you can’t face door-to-door campaigning, you can always donate to the Abortion Right’s Campaign, start a conversation on social media, or attend a protest. 

The Pro-Choice side is leading in the polls at the moment, but we shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security. 

Stay calm, get educated and get out there – let’s rise and repeal.

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