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Time to scrap the 8th Amendment

By September 4, 2003News

– Release date: 05 September 2003

‘20 years since the 8th Amendment’
In order to mark the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Eight Amendment Referendum, Alliance for Choice publicly launched a collection of 'reflections' on the 20 years since September 1983.

'20 years since the 8th Amendment' is a collection of short articles written by people who were active in the 1983 Referendum campaign, or who have been active in pro-choice politics in Ireland.

Speaking at the event were Catherine Forde (IFPA), Karen Kiernan (Cherish), Aisling Reidy (ICCL), Ailbhe Smyth (WERRC), Alison Begas (Dublin Well Woman), Sandra McEvoy (Cork Women's Right to Choose Group), Ivana Bacik (Alliance for Choice), Dr. Joanne McMinn (NWCI) and Proinsias de Rossa MEP.

All called for the repeal of the 8th Amendment from the Irish Constitution.

Catherine Forde of the IFPA said:
“Safe legal abortion has been available in Denmark for 30 years and in June this year they have had their lowest abortion rate since then. Their abortion rate is on the decrease. In contrast Ireland, which introduced a total ban on abortion 20 years ago has had a steadily increasing rate of abortion. The difference: safe, legal abortion and a comprehensive sex education programme which starts in primary schools.”

Commenting on the 1983 Referendum, Senator Mary Henry said:
“It is still a mystery to me why a group of people decided it was necessary to insert a clause into the Constitution to make abortion, which was already unlawful here, even more unlawful. The worst aspect was the wording, which denigrated the life of a woman to equality with a fertilised egg. No hint was given that her prior right to life or social responsibilities should be considered. Perhaps it fitted well in a Constitution which really only considers a woman as a mother and a worker in the home.”

Drawing on her experience over the past 20 years, Cathleen O’Neill said:
“If I had a pound for every fundraiser I worked on to help working class women go to England for an abortion, I’d be a rich woman. Taking children into our homes for the duration of the visit – pretending that Mammy was gone to a funeral; holding pub quizzes, and running limited draws, as well as running sales of work and raffles under weird and wonderful names to preserve anonymity. Almost every other week. It’s bad enough for those who can afford to travel, but for poorer women it’s hell. It’s time those who claim to represent us to get a grip on reality and take steps to end this nightmare”.

Calling for change in the law, Ivana Bacik for Alliance for Choice said:
"Over the 20 years since 1983, we know that 100,000 Irish women have had to travel to England for abortions. Women with crisis pregnancies are continuing to travel every day of the week. But while we have gone through five different referendums, nothing has changed for them. It is time for us to recognise the real needs of women and change the law."