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repeal the 8th


Abortion – to some, a dirty word, and to others, a medical tool that allows us to establish full autonomy over our bodies as women. 

As Ireland prepares to lay their heads to rest for the final time before voting in the referendum to repeal or maintain the 8th amendment to the constitution tomorrow, some will sleep soundly, assured of their vote either way. 

Others among us will have a restless night, still undecided on which box to apply that all-powerful X to come morning. Those who won't sleep at all are the individuals who have been impacted by the constraints of the amendment, as many wonder what judgement their own country will lay upon them in the ballot box. 


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In 1983, when the amendment was added, I didn't exist, and had no say on a constitutional restriction that affects me every day. My own mother was barely old enough to vote at the time of the previous referendum, but voted against it's installation in our constitution. At the time, the amendment was passed, and we were granted the restrictive laws we have today. 

A decade after she placed her vote in the ballot box supporting the rights of Irish women, she was lucky enough to have an uncomplicated pregnancy, unlike many women, and gave birth to me. 

Tomorrow, we will go to our polling station together, and I will see my mum cast her vote on this issue for the second time, a repeating of her personal history. Except this time, my ballot will go in the box after hers, and if the opinion polls are to be believed, she will finally see the result she longed for 35 years ago. 

She will cast her vote once again in the hope of a changed system for her daughters, her sisters, her friends, and anyone who could be impacted by the 8th. 


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In 2016, I heard the first whispers of the movement to repeal the 8th amendment. I had always been pro-choice from the moment I was capable of grasping the concept, after seeing teenage pregnancies in my secondary school, and having personally known girls to have struggled with the most secret, stigmatised pain of a crisis pregnancy in a Catholic secondary school. 

An acquaintance of my 15-year-old-self drunkenly confided in me one night, as we walked through the fields of our rural town, that she had experienced an unwanted pregnancy. 

When I asked her, in my idiotic, naive way of the time, why she didn't look pregnant, she broke down, dropping to the grass of the street lamp-lit field, and told me that she had induced a miscarriage. I will not go into the details here out of respect for her privacy. I felt appalled at the time, not because of her actions of desperation, but because I realised in that moment that we existed in a suspended reality of outdated 'morals' and laws. 

Women who engage in sexual activity are punished with an ultimatum. Keep your 'mistake' or be banished to another country where they will deal 'with the likes of you,' a phrase that was used against my acquaintance by her student guidance counsellor when she brought her crisis to him.  


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As a teenager, who was less abashed than my friends, I would buy condoms and, in dangerous moments, pregnancy tests for others, who simply could not walk up to the Boots counter with those 'shameful' products in their hands. Some of my friends couldn't bear to buy them themselves, just from sheer embarrassment, or fear that someone they knew would see them and judge them. I would stroll in, my friend's crumpled €10 notes in my hands and secure the goods on their behalf.

When I got to college, my practice was put to good use when it was my own loose change I handed over the counter, knees knocking together, as I requested a test in the pharmacy.

The test was taken with shaky hands in the secrecy of a college dorm bathroom. Ragged breathing slowed as the second line on the test failed to appear and I knew I wasn't pregnant, but the entire time I thought I might be, all I could think over and over was 'I cannot afford to travel.' 

I laughed the very next day when my late period arrived, and my housemate and I celebrated with a 'you're not pregnant' party – because at the time there would have been no other option that was right for me but to have an abortion. Others have made a different choice, children themselves, and not regretted it, but that would not have been my choice. 

However, the struggles I would have dealt with to secure that medical option would have been unimaginable. 


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Ireland has a historically complex relationship with the impurity or sex and the anticipated chastity of 'good Catholic women.' 

Even in a recent Garda rape investigation, the case was described as a  'terrible rape on a decent girl.' What does this casual turn of phrase mean exactly? What does a 'decent girl' entail? A pure woman? A woman who could never be perceived as 'asking for it?' Would the terminology and empathy level be different if she wasn't seen as a 'decent' girl? 

Ireland is one of the few countries in the world where Catholic guilt is still deeply rooted, but like a festering rot, it manifests itself in the worst ways.

There are few No arguments that do not rely heavily on 'morals,' and a quick Google will leave you with evidence of religious associations on that side of the campaign. From mass goers being told they will no longer be welcome in the congregation if they vote Yes, to statues of Mary being carted around during Save the 8th marches, the societal connection of church and state is clear. 


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But the fact of the matter is, sex happens. Abortion happens, in this country and in clinics abroad who are now so accustomed to seeing Irish addresses on the appointment system they don't bat an eyelid. 

Abortion is a reality, but our country chooses to sweep it under the rug. All this scaremongering about 'floodgates opening' and '55 million babies being killed' is complete fallacy. When the morning after pill was introduced, pharmacies weren't seeing queues of hundreds banging down their doors the next morning looking for their pills. 

Women will not be using abortion as 'contraception' or normalising or minimising the seriousness of these medical tools. We won't be knocking back abortion pills over brunch with the gals thinking it's gas. Trust us. 

'We have moved on from dropping pregnant women at the laundries, and as a society we need to move on from dropping them at the departure gates, too,' said Gerry Edwards, at the launch of the Together for Yes campaign, and I could not agree more.  

Not only do these laws and social stigmas seek to belittle the bodily autonomy of women, but in doing so force women who are carrying complicated pregnancies, ones which could end in their own deaths or will definitely end in the deaths of their unborn, to continue to term – so long as there is a heartbeat. Yes, we now have the amendment that allows for legal abortion in cases of direct negative impact on the health of the mother, but we have all heard the stories from real women and couples about the lack of compassion and appalling medical conditions they are faced with still. If I can't convince you of this, the In Her Shoes Facebook page certainly will. 


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I have marched. I have tweeted. I have used my words to express my thoughts. I have donated. I have rallied. I have canvassed. I have volunteered. I have changed the minds of some no voters and been screamed at by others. 

When I look at the faces of my little sisters, who are too young to have their say, I hope for a safer future for them and their children.

When I accompany my mum to the polling station, I stand behind her in 2018 and in 1983. 

Tomorrow, I will vote Yes to repeal the 8th amendment because I believe in choice. For me, for the women who came before me, and the women who come after me.


Good news alert: USI expects voter turnout for young people to be larger than Marriage Equality referendum in 2015!

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) – which represents 374,000 students across Ireland – has said that the student turnout to vote ‘Yes’ to remove the Eighth Amendment will be the largest youth voter turnout for any referendum in the history of the state.

Speaking ahead of polls opening tomorrow, USI President Michael Kerrigan explained: “Students know that their future is at stake here. We directly registered 26,979 new student voters in the lead up to this referendum to remove the Eighth Amendment, and we know from our two week roadshow on campuses that students are united on the issue, and will be voting ‘Yes’ for a more caring and compassionate Ireland.”

“Students’ Unions have held referendums on campus on the Eighth Amendment, and up to 92% of students across campuses voted ‘Yes’ for their Students’ Union to campaign to remove the Eighth Amendment.

"We’re expecting student turnout to be bigger than the Marriage Equality vote in 2015. With almost 125,000 new voters on the register, we expect the majority to be first time young voters.”  

USI is the national representative body for the 374,000 students in third level education on the Island of Ireland, and is a member of the national civil society campaign, Together For Yes.

USI has been campaigning for the decriminalisation of abortion in Ireland since 1979. In 2015, USI mobilised students to vote in Marriage Equality seeing the largest youth voter turnout for any vote in the history of the state.

Use your vote tomorrow guys. The women of Ireland deserve better. 


Tomorrow, Ireland will hold a referendum on whether or not to repeal the eighth amendment of the constitution. 

A YES vote will mean that that the amendment will be repealed, and Ireland's archaic abortion laws will be changed. 

A NO vote will change nothing, and 12 women every day will still be forced to leave Ireland to source illegal abortions. 

For me, it is a simple choice, and I will be voting YES, for the women of Ireland. My friends, my future children and grandchildren. 

The exportation of our problems stops here. 

And as a YES voter, I am far from alone.

Thousands of people are getting on planes and boats (irony is not lost on me) to travel home to vote in this history-making referendum.

These people are taking to social media to share their stories, using the hashtag #HomeToVote – and honestly, I'm emotional.  

It's incredibly heartwarming to see so many Irish people making a crucial journey for the women of their nation. 

Here are some of the best tweets we've seen:








A number of celerities including Kate Nash and Courteney Cox have come out to publicly support the Yes side of the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution.

Last night, two more fierce, feminist singers put their names to the debate. 

 Lily Allen took to Twitter to post a simple #repelathe8th hastag to her post. 

There was some confusion in the comments section, with some members of her international following being confused by the statement.  

'What does that men then,' wrote one, before being infomred about Ireland's abortion laws, which have been described by many the publication as some of the most restrictive in the world. 


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Platinum superstar P!nk also shared her support, uploading a snap of a Vote Yes badge to her 4.4m Instagram followers. 

'IRELAND: #repealthe8th #togetherforyes,' she penned in the caption. 

From the pro-choice women of Ireland, thanks gals. 



The final countdown to the referendum to Repeal the 8th Amendment to the constitution is on, with just three sleeps to go before Ireland gets the opportunity to maintain or do away with the legislation which prevents women from legally acquiring abortion healthcare on Irish soil. 

If you are planning to vote in the upcoming referendum (which we encourage everyone to do so) then there are a few things to keep in mind before your stroll, drive or public transport commute to your polling station. 

The polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm so make the time to get down there before or after work, or during lunch time. 


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First up – do not wear a Repeal or Save the 8th jumper, or any clothing, badges or accessories with the words yes or no on them.  

Clothing with campaign slogans could be seen as canvassing, and canvassing at a polling station is considered an offence. 

It's up to the discretion of the presiding polling station officer to decide if your jumper or badge is 'canvassing' but just to be safe, leave them at home. 

Next do not forget your polling card, as having your allotted card with you on the day speeds up your check-in process while also allowing you to vote. 

Photography by Saibh Egan | Galway Pro-Choice members at the Abortion Rights Campaign

If you don't have a polling card, a passport, a drivers license, a student ID containing a photograph (student travel cards not accepted) or a public services card will suffice. Age Cards are not listed as accepted. 

Bring a form of the above ID even if you have a polling card, as there is a chance you will be asked.

Don't take any pictures in the polling station, and DEFINITELY don't take any images inside the booth, of either you or your vote. 

As for the vote itself, make sure it gets stamped by polling station staff. 


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The question will read: 'Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the undermentioned Bill?'

Put an X in the box for Yes or No and don't doodle on the paper or write any messages. There should be two pen strokes on that paper making up your X and that is is, or you risk spoiling your vote. 

And just put and X to indicate your vote, not a tick and don't colour in the box you want. 

If you make an honest mistake, you can ask for a new ballot slip as long as you haven't already put it in the ballot box. 

Show the back of your ballot paper to the local [polling official, fold it in half, and place it into the sealed ballot box. Job done. 

You can take your selfie in your campaign merch when you get home and share words of encouragement to others online about how they need to get out and vote that day. 

The day after the vote, the ballot boxes will be opened and counted. 

Feature image: Photography by Saibh Egan | Galway Pro-Choice members at the Abortion Rights Campaign


By Amy Donohoe

I believe that the eighth amendment needs to be repealed as Ireland imposed shame and abuse on women for years.

Women were stripped of their human right and treated as second class citizens.

Today, they still don’t have full control of their bodies. The Irish Constitution displays an outdated attitude towards women. Article 41.2 states that “by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.” and “mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”


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Archbishop McQuaid played a part in writing the Constitution and he was obsessed with controlling women. He didn’t agree with the introduction of tampons in 1944 especially for 'unmarried women'.

He also opposed health care for women in case women might be informed about contraception and sexual health.It wasn’t until 1985 that condoms were allowed to be sold to people over 18 without having to present a prescription.

I don’t believe in abortion, but I believe in choice. I believe that every woman should have a say on their own body and that they shouldn’t be dominated by the church and our outdated constitution.

Women need good healthcare. We export our problems overseas instead of caring for them at home with respect and compassion.


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Last weekend I went to an anniversary mass, but instead of praying for that person, the priest stood up and began to preach about his opinion on the eighth amendment as if he was superior to the rest of us.

I felt paralysed, I wanted to leave but if I did leave I would’ve been judged by the neighbours and shamed my family.

I believe in God but I don’t believe in the Irish Catholic Church and I don’t believe it was fair that the priest indirectly told people how to vote.


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Our country used to drop our pregnant women and girls off at the gates of institutions that hid them from the nosey neighbours and the church. Our girlfriends, wives, daughters, sisters and mothers are dropped to the departure gates at Dublin Airport.

They are forced to travel to other countries to access basic healthcare services and we deny them necessary aftercare when they return. They are forced to order illegal abortion pills online.

If you vote no this will still happen, but if you vote yes we will be able to give women the healthcare they need.

It's time to trust women to make the right to make decisions that are right for them and their families. The eighth amendment currently gives the unborn an equal right to life as the mother, which prohibits abortion in almost all cases.

If we vote yes we are voting for “provision made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.”

Abortion will be accessible within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.


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The medical practitioner will have a legal obligation to discuss the woman’s options with her. A three-day waiting period will be enforced. After the 72 hours has elapsed, an abortion pill will be administered to women who choose to continue with the abortion.

After 12 weeks abortion will only be performed if the woman’s life is at risk. Two doctors will be asked to determine if an abortion should be permitted.

After 24 weeks abortion will only be allowed if the foetus will not survive outside the womb. If the amendment isn’t repealed none of this will be allowed. Abortion will only be allowed if the woman’s life is at risk.


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Abortion will not be used as a form of contraceptive.

We can trust women in Ireland to make the right decision. If you vote no, nothing will change and the eighth amendment will continue to ruin existing lives.

Women will still travel abroad and take abortion pills.

This is a once in a lifetime referendum and every vote counts.


In the final stretch of the referendum debate, both sides have stepped up their campaigning methods. 

An Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll has found that a mere eight days before the referendum, the Yes side are retaining a lead. 

Those who know how they will vote are split 58% Yes to 42% No.


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However 17% of people who responded said they were on the middle ground. 

With that break down, the poll shows that 44% will vote Yes, 32% will vote No, and a further 5% will not be voting. 

2% declined to respond. 

Support for the Yes vote has declined slightly since the last poll conducted by The Irish Times

According to The Irish Times. women and people from urban areas are most in favour of repeal. 

Farmers and those from 'the poorest households'  stand with No majorities.


A number of celebrities have been voicing their support for the Vote Yes side of the debate to repeal the 8th amendment in recent weeks. 

From Saoirse Ronan to Corteney Cox, singers, actors and comedians, both Irish and international have been having their say. 

Kate Nash is the latest musician to lend her voice to the repeal side. 

Taking to Twitter, the Foundations singer wrote:

'Ireland! On May 25th vote to repeal the harmful eighth!' 

'Unsafe and Illegal abortion is barbaric, ancient, harming women and must change!'


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'The future is bright if we stand #TogetherForYes,' she finished.

The GLOW actress has portrayed the difficulties of abortion in the Netflix show, after her co-character Ruth has a secret termination. 


Iconic Friends actress Courteney Cox has voiced her support for Repealing the 8th amendment ion a recent tweet.

The Couger Town star took to Twitter to share her support for abortion rights with an upload of a recent video by Together for Yes. 

Stars like Saoirse Ronan, Robert Sheehan, Cillian Murphy, Pauline McLynn, James Nesbit and Game of Thrones' Liam Cunningham featured in the video about why they will be voting Yes in the upcoming referendum. 

The video opens with the line, “In Ireland today” and goes on to list the variety of ways in which women are currently affected by the 8th Amendment in this country.

Courteney shared the video to her 1.11 million followers, to spread the repeal message. 

Courteney has had her own experiences with pregnancy, and has one daughter named Coco.

However, the actress has dealt with miscarriages in her pursuit of a family. 

'I get pregnant pretty easily,' she told People magazine, 'but I have a hard time keeping them.' 



Travelling home to vote is an essential aspect for young people to use their voice in the upcoming referendum to repeal the 8th amendment.

One UK University is offering students a cash contribution to help them afford to fly home to vote in the referendum. 

The University of Sussex Postgraduate Education Officer on the Student's Union took to Facebook to ask students to apply for the grant. 

'Are you an Irish student eligible to vote and want to go home for Repeal the 8th?'

'In line with the NUS bursary, the Students Union are able to offer up to £100 per student for up to 15 students towards their flights and travel costs.'

All students need to do is show evidence that they are eligible to vote. 

They also need to send scans of receipts of their travel to the Campaigns and Democracy Administrator at the university. 

Know anyone who could benefit from this? 



Today, Tuesday marks the deadline for people to register to vote in the upcoming referendum to repeal or maintain the current Eighth Amendment.

Anyone who is not registered needs to complete an RFA2 form, have it signed and witnessed at a garda station, and then return it by post or by hand to a local city or county council.

You cannot register online.

You will require a form RFA2 if you are not currently on the electoral register.

Form RFA3 needs to be filled if you have changed your address and wish to vote at your new address.

Form RFA5 is required if you have now become an Irish citizen and wish to be eligible to vote in all elections or referendums.

People are only eligible to vote in referendums if they are an Irish citizen living in the Republic of Ireland, or have been out of the country for less than 18 months.

Do not forget the completed form must be brought to your local Garda station, along with valid photo ID. 

To complete the process, the form will need to be signed and stamped with the station stamp, by a member of Gardai.

Application forms are available from local authorities or on the checktheregister.ie website.

It comes as figures from the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) show up to 150,000 young people are not registered to vote.


Carol Hunter, founder of Grandparents for Repeal, former deputy Labour leader Liz Mc Manus, retired Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness, former education minister Gemma Hussey and broadcaster and journalist Vincent Browne will all be in Dublin this morning to officially launch Grandparents for Repeal.

The parents of Ruth Bowie who travelled to Britain for a termination after receiving a fatal foetal abnormality diagnosis will be in attendance, along with  Dr Siobhan Donohue who also travelled to Britain after receiving a similar diagnosis on her third child.

Veteran activist Frank Crummey, Midwife Philomena Canning and the parents of Arlette Lyons who also travelled to Britain after an FFA diagnosis will also be there. 

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When asked about why she founded the group, Carol Hunter said "I founded this group as a grandmother talking to my age-group and then realised that this demographic was least in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment."

"I therefore focussed on their genuinely held concerns by providing them with data, information and testimony that allows a change of narrative, showing that terminations are part of life and needed in a plethora of circumstances," she continued.

Grandparents for Repeal has no political affiliations. It is a civic-based group and a member of Together for Yes.