Irish citizens are going to the polls today to vote whether to repeal the Eighth AmendmentWilliam Murphy

I am tired of talking about abortion.

Abortion is a visceral, unpleasant word. I understand that – it is a visceral, unpleasant thing. Ireland’s referendum on the repealing of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution – that which bans abortion unless the mother’s life is at risk – has been cloaked in legality, positivity, and safety.

These words do nothing to convey the brutality of the choice that is every woman’s birthright. It is a deeply traumatic, deeply personal choice – and yet this referendum has seen the “no” campaign deploy propaganda which weaponises the experiences of women that have made this choice, plastering images of bloodied foetuses on every lamppost in the name of dignity and morality. How dare those who oppose abortion turn women’s personal experiences into cogs in a system of silence and shame that bears down upon the most vulnerable?

If the Eighth Amendment is not repealed, nothing will happen. We will remain as we are, stuck in this threshold between an old world and a new one

I could have dressed this up in words that were friendlier, words that were not so angry. But I am not angry. I hold no hope of changing the views of those who support the Eighth Amendment. Call it a concession. Call it acquiescence. Polling data indicates that the outcome of the referendum will be tighter than anticipated, and I worry that the result will not be the “yes” vote that many hope it will be. I worry that “yes” campaigners have overlooked the culture we created when our constitution was written with the Catholic Church watching.

I await the results with a pit of dread in my stomach, a pit which permanently lodged itself there at the acquittal of Paddy Jackson and his comrades-in-arms before a court of law, and Ireland’s dirty laundry was exposed for all the world to see.

The Ulster Rugby case and the Eighth Amendment are intrinsically connected, tied up in the culture of silence and mistrust we have built and continue to support. A society built upon the whispers in each family of the aunt who went away and did not return; upon the fourteen-year-old girls who play camogie and hang out with the fourteen-year-old boys who play rugby and risk embodying the toxic masculinity which pervades Irish society.

Every time Ireland is asked to address who we are and what we stand for, this is what is being shaped. But I am not saying any of this for those who will endorse such a society by voting “no” today. Perhaps they will win. When the results come in, they will be able to sigh with relief; get a drink, go to church. This is not for those people.

I say this for the women who travel in droves to England. And for the women who will not be able to. For the women who will have to leave education because the constitution dictates that their child might be the next Mozart, bound to raise them when they should not have had to. For the women who will be too ill, too young, who will be stopped on the cusp of brilliance.

This is for the children who will grow up eating breakfast in school and living in a world that could not accommodate them, all because we elected to perpetuate this cycle of women and poverty. This is for those who are not lucky, who are not counted, who are not considered. I want to say this to you.

I know you are tired. I am tired too. Sometimes I am so tired that I forget that those who oppose legalising abortion are wrong. I wrote this to remind you, and myself, that they are. Ireland may continue to try to deny, to ignore, and to erase women. They will fail. They can come out in droves and vote, they can spit vitriol in comment sections, they can retain the stranglehold they have on the opportunity that exists in Ireland. But no matter how many people ignore the humanity of a woman, it is still there.


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If the Eighth Amendment is not repealed, nothing will happen. We will remain as we are, stuck in this threshold between an old world and a new one. Women will continue to make the brutal choice. Violence will continue to be perpetuated. Blood will continue to be shed, in alleyways, hospitals, and in homes.

I implore Irish citizens everywhere to vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution and make sure this chance to choose the kind of future we wish to shape does not echo the mistakes of our past.

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