‘Support women in the hardest decision they’ll ever make’: Ireland’s pro-choice campaigners circulate ‘incredibly powerful’ open letter to No voters ahead of abortion referendum
- Irish citizens will be asked if they want to repeal the 8th amendment on May 25
- Amendment makes abortion illegal in all but exceptional circumstances
- Pro-choice campaigners want amendment to constitution to be repealed
- Pro-life activists argue that abortion is a ‘licence to kill’
An ‘incredibly powerful’ open letter to Ireland’s pro-life campaigners is circulating online as the country prepares for an historic referendum on whether to legalise abortion.
Irish citizens will be asked to vote on May 25th on whether to repeal the 8th amendment to the constitution, which makes abortion illegal in all but extraordinary circumstances.
The anonymous letter, shared on Twitter by writer and Repeal campaigner Laura Cunningham calls on No voters to ‘sit with a woman experiencing a crisis today’, instead of ‘making posters about the horrors of abortions’.
Voters on either side of the divide – an incredibly emotional debate for many in the Catholic country, which has some of Europe’s strictest abortion laws – are ramping up their efforts as the vote draws closer.
Those in the Repeal camp point to the thousands of Irish women forced to travel overseas in order to seek a termination – including victims of rape and children.
No voters maintain that abortion is tantamount to ‘murder’.
The letter, composed by an anonymous member of the Yes campaign, was circulating on Twitter as the historic vote on legalising abortion in Ireland draws closer
The anonymous letter to No campaigners, shared on Twitter on Monday, asks: ‘While you are out campaigning for all the potential lives that could be lost after May 25th, what are you doing for the women forced onto planes, boats, and to lock themselves in their bedrooms TODAY?’
It goes on to call on No voters to place themselves in the shoes of a pregnant Junior Cert [the Irish equivalent to GCSE exams] schoolgirl, domestic abuse victim, destitute single mother, or a woman who is herself too ill to survive labour.
‘Until you are willing to help those in a crisis with real, practical and sustained support, get off your high horse and support women in the hardest decision they will ever make,’ it says.
Irish voters will be asked to have their say on whether to legalise abortion in the country in a referendum on May 25th
The letter has been shared hundreds of times online.
WHAT IS THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT?
The Eighth Amendment of Ireland’s constitution is a provision that renders abortion illegal other than in exceptional circumstances.
The provision, inserted in 1983, enshrines the equal right to life of the mother and her unborn child.
In a referendum in May, Irish citizens will be asked whether they want to repeal the Eighth Amendment and to instead enable parliament to set the laws.
If the public votes to repeal the constitutional provision, the Irish Government intends to table legislation that would permit women to abort within 12 weeks of pregnancy.
On May 25th the Irish people will vote on whether the contentious amendment, which gives the mother and unborn an equal right to life, should be replaced with wording that hands responsibility for setting the country’s abortion laws to politicians.
If the public votes to repeal, the Irish government will table legislation that would permit women to legally abort within 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, said today there will not be a second referendum on repealing the 8th should the country vote against the change on Friday.
According to the Irish Times, Mr Varadkar encouraged voters to support repealing the amendment, but said he would accept the outcome of the referendum.
‘I am a democrat and I have to accept the outcome of a referendum and elections,’ he said.
According to the Prime Minister, a No vote would mean women who access abortion pills could face 14 years in prison.
The Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has encouraged the nation to support repealing the 8th amendment
Repeal voter’s open letter in full
Dear No campaigners,
While you are out campaigning for all the potential lives that could be lost after May 25th, what are you doing for all the women who are forced onto planes, boats and to lock themselves in their bedrooms TODAY? You fear that the floodgates will open after May 25th but there [sic] are already open. Instead of making posters about the horrors of abortions why are you not sitting with the women making the choice today? If you honestly believe that there are viable options and there is always a way to support and care for a baby, sit with a woman experiencing a crisis today. Do not wait until May 26th and think “well, I voted “No” there is nothing more I can do”.
Sit with a girl experiencing morning sickness as she tries to study for her Junior Cert, promise that you will mind the baby for the next 7 years while she completes her Leaving Cert and degree.
Hold the hand of a woman for the next 16 weeks while she awaits the inevitable, go to work with her and explain to her colleagues why she does not smile when they say “When are you due? You must be so excited!”
Go to a woman’s house and stand between her and her partner as he emotionally and physically abuses her, give her a safe home to live in once the baby arrives.
Give the single mother the money it costs to raise a baby when the father disappears and denies all knowledge of their child, better yet get her a well paid job with healthcare and child minding facilities.
Console the children and partner of a woman who has lost her life while she waits for an ethics board to decide if she is sick enough to end her pregnancy.
Until you are willing to help those in a crisis with real, practical and sustained support, get off your high horse and support women in the hardest decision they will ever make
Every Yes campaigner
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