This weekend I travelled to Dublin, Ireland to campaign alongside members of Labour Youth Ireland, Young European Socialists, PES Women and Rainbow Rose with campaigners from Together for Yes who have been working incredibly hard for a Yes vote next Friday, May 25th 2018.
The referendum will decide whether the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution is to be repealed. The 8th amendment enshrines the rights of an unborn baby into the Irish constitution, effectively making it impossible to legalise abortion.
Even in situations where the mother’s life may be in danger, it is very difficult for doctors in Ireland to legally perform a termination.
For this reason, thousands of women every year are travelling from Ireland to other European countries, primarily the UK, in order to access abortions. This comes at significant cost to the women – not just financial (it can cost over £1000 plus travel expenses) but the emotional turmoil of having to travel in secret, and with a lack of counselling or support.
Additionally, many women are buying abortion pills online and taking them at home, again without counselling or medical support, and if discovered to have done this could face 14 years in prison under current Irish law.
Clearly this situation is unacceptable, and is hugely prejudiced against women. Over the weekend I met a number of truly incredible women who have devoted many hours of their time over years and years to campaign on this issue. The fortitude of women under attack never fails to inspire me.
There is still a long way to go in Ireland. If the referendum does pass this just paves the way for a law to be introduced. The government would still need to draft and propose such a law. Meanwhile women are suffering and dying. Hopes are high but every single vote will count and every hour spent on the doorsteps could make the difference.
I am proud to have been able to join the delegation to the campaign this weekend. I believe in every woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body and any time I can stand up for that, I will.
I hope that our campaigning efforts made a difference, and I’ll be watching the news intently on Saturday as the result comes in.
Thanks to YES, Rainbow Rose and PES Women for organising and facilitating the trip and Labour Youth Ireland and Together for Yes for the enthusiastic welcome we received.