In November 2016 while living in Seattle, I wrote a (very) short blog post asking people to vote, particularly for those who are disenfranchised but have to live with the consequences of that vote. Now, nearly 18 months later and back in Ireland, I find myself once again asking for people to make sure they’re registered in time to vote on an issue that massively affects me but that I have no control over.

I’m talking, of course, about the upcoming referendum on the 8th Amendment.

I’ve written about Ireland’s abortion laws before, about how disconnected I felt in America during the March for Choice in 2016, and about getting involved since moving back. I’m going to try to not write the same things again, and also try not to write an essay on abortion rights and bodily autonomy. (I will throw in some resource links at the end though).

What I’m asking for today, is for anyone reading this in Ireland to check the register, get registered before Tuesday and get out there and fucking vote YES. People have died because of the 8th. We’re lucky (!) to be this close to Britain, else things would be worse. May 25th is our chance to make things better. The most powerful thing we have right now is our vote and, without wanting to be whiny, I don’t get one. Not just me either. In our population of 4.7 million, there’s 535, 475 non-Irish nationals. That’s over half a million people, like myself, who are living under this barbaric regime, and don’t get a say in changing it. And that is census figures – so doesn’t include those in direct provision, or those homeless who don’t engage in the census – and those people are disproportionately impacted by a regime that only grants abortion care to those who can afford to, who have the right papers, who have the contacts. That litany of prerequisites to access basic healthcare reminds me of a game called ‘Papers, Please’. Great game, but depressing as fuck. NOT a good model for healthcare access.

Ireland can become a better place, for everyone who lives here, but not without you. So please: check the register. Get out canvassing. Have conversations. Stand with the thousands of people who have had to leave this country. Show them that this wonderful country is going to stop shaming women and exporting problems it doesn’t want to face.

If you’ve questions: ask! Here, by email, in person, by text, by phone, by fucking carrier pigeon. I am happy to listen and give space to talk these things out. I know that it’s not always easy to talk about things that we’ve hushed up. I know it makes people uncomfortable. But we need to get comfortable with talking about abortion, else we need to get comfortable with people continuing to suffer.

Be part of the change. On May 25th, vote yes. For me, for yourself, and most importantly for all the pregnant people of Ireland, past present and future. We can make this country better. But we have to work together.

Please.

Resources:

Together for Yes – the official campaign to remove the 8th. Lots of great info here on what the vote is about, stories from those affected, and so on.

Everyday Stories and In Her Shoes are two storytelling projects that give real insight into the harm the 8th has caused.

‘Repealing the 8th‘ is a fantastic explainer of the legal position, for any policy nerds out there.

Autonomy‘ is a collection of writing around what bodily autonomy is and what it feels like when that’s taken away. Proud to say I know a few of the contributors to this in person.

And, of course, the Abortion Rights Campaign – honestly, the best people to change the world with. A wealth of information on the website.

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