As a country, it is essential that Ireland does more to protect its female citizen’s rights and adopt more modern stances on age-old issues, such as abortion. It seems, however, that positive changes will come in the future.
After studying abroad in a country and learning about how its culture was formed through a catholic-protestant context, it was unexpected to witness abortion propaganda supported by the Eighth Amendment in the cities of the Republic of Ireland.
In Dublin on Saturday Sept. 30, tens of thousands of marchers protested Ireland’s severe abortion laws. Ireland has some of the strictest laws in Europe, according to BBC, and the country only allows a termination if the mother’s life is in danger. If an individual wants an abortion, they have to travel to other areas within the U.K. to have the procedure. This can be incredibly difficult for women in financial crises, those with poor health and minors.
Pope Francis has a scheduled visit to Ireland for 2018, and according to The Guardian, Ireland will officially hold a national vote on their abortion laws in May or June of next year. This is monumental for Ireland; being a country where contraception was illegal until the 1980s, they have been slow to reform laws regarding sexual health.
Today, Ireland still ranks low in contraceptive use and high in teen pregnancy even though one can finally purchase condoms without a prescription, according to The Circular.
This referendum is the first step in breaking Ireland’s concrete attitude toward women’s rights. Many Irish natives want to reduce the laws on abortion, The New York Times reports. Irish women cannot get an abortion even in cases of rape, incest or child abnormalities. For this reason, in 2015 approximately 3,400 Irish women got abortions in either England or Wales.
A high publicity protest in 2012 kindled after 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar died in Ireland from sepsis because she was forced to carry a nonviable pregnancy. This highly publicized death reignited the issue over bodily autonomy. Human Rights Watch reports that this caused a mass Twitter movement in 2015, where women tweeted at the Prime Minister about their periods to dispel the taboo surrounding the subject.
As Ireland is one of the most accepting LGBTQ+ countries in the world, even being the first nation to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote in 2015, it is strange that the country is so regressive when it comes to abortion. Ireland needs to extend this liberal attitude toward the women of their country or human lives will be put on the line.
At the very least, Ireland needs to improve their sexual education in schools by extending information on abortion to the public.
The Western world should stop putting the health of its citizens at risk by failing to offer the health care that people need. It is imperative that Ireland admonishes the Eighth Amendment to offer safe, secure and confidential abortion options to women.