I am tired. I am very tired.
I’m tired because I don’t remember the last time I had an evening off or a good night’s sleep. I’m tired because I’m not eating properly, or exercising, or taking care of myself, and my body is feeling that. I’m tired because I work a physically and emotionally demanding job. But mostly, I’m tired of asking people to give women the right to make their own decisions. I’m tired of asking people to vote Yes on Friday.
But I’m still doing it. So, for one last time, please vote YES in the referendum this Friday.
10 women every day are travelling to England for abortion services. 3 more are taking safe but illegal abortion pills here in Ireland. They deserve better than this. Women and pregnant people have suffered in Ireland for decades under the 8th. Savita Halappanavar, Michelle Harte, Ms X, Ms Y, Ms A, Ms, B, Ms C, Ms D, Bimbo Onanuga, Sheila Hodgers, Anne Lovett, Amanda Mellet, Siobhán Whelan, PP. These are the cases we know, because they made the headlines. There is someone you know, who needed support in a crisis and they didn’t get it. They had to go to the internet, or to England, for the care and compassion they should have received here in Ireland. We can change that on May 25th.
This will also be our *only* chance to change that. Watching the debates, I’ve seen the No side shift to “well maybe there’s a way we can legislate for hard cases without repealing the 8th”. To be clear – there isn’t. There have been two attempts to legislate for cases of fatal foetal anomalies (where pregnancy won’t survive birth) – both have failed due to being unconstitutional. With a clause in our constituion stating that foetal life, at any stage, is equal to the life of the woman carrying it, the broadest possible legislation is what we have now: abortion is only available when there is a serious and substantial risk to the life of the mother.
This referendum didn’t come around quickly, and wasn’t decided upon lightly. There was a Citizens Assembly – 100 citizens gave up nearly six months of weekends to listen to medical and legal experts (from Ireland and abroad), advocacy groups, and women who both chose to continue and to end their pregnancies. They received thousands of submissions from citizens, and read hundreds of them. They listened to an overwhelming amount of medical and legal evidence, and voted that returning the responsibility to legislate to the Oireachtas was the best approach. We then had a cross-party Oireachtas Committee, with politicians who normally can’t stand each other agreeing on a framework and putting forward a reccomendation to the government. The Cabinet then brought this to the Dáil, where there were more debates and speeches, and a bill was published.
At every stage, those who opposed Repeal have been invited to put forward ideas for how to legislate for the hard cases without Repeal, and have been given time and space to contribute towards finding an alternative. They have not brought any alternative forward. And, to be clear: even if there was an alternative? The No side would vote against that too. In 2002 they campaigned for the constitution to be amended to remove the ‘risk to the life from suicide’ for the mother. They voted against the PLDPA. They voted against legislation to support families with FFA diagnoses. They do not support any change. When asked directly if they would force a teenager pregnant from rape to continue to term, if she didn’t want to, they don’t answer. Because honestly, they would. They’ve done it before.
If you would not force someone to remain pregnant against their will, vote Yes.
If you think abortion is wrong, but would never stop anyone else from having one, vote Yes.
If you think the best protection for developing life is the woman carrying it, not the constitution – then vote Yes.
If you think women who need abortions should be able to access that care here in Ireland, safely and legally, supported by their family and their doctor – then vote Yes.
If you want your wife, your sister, your daughter, your mother, your friend to get the support they need in a crisis, without having to break the law or travel – then vote Yes.
If you know me personally, and have any affection or care for me as an individual living human being, and believe that I have worth outside of any pregnancy I may carry – then vote Yes.
I have a stake in this referendum, as I’ve a functioning uterus and live in this country. I’ve given more than I can tell to this campaign, and I still feel like I’ve not done enough. But I can’t do the last, most important thing to change this country. I can’t vote. I can wear badges, and campaign, and have conversations. But all the badges in the world don’t matter when it comes to referendum day. So wear a badge, sure. But your vote is what matters now. So please, when polls open tomorrow, think of us, the women you know and love. Stand with us. Stand with me. Together, we can change this country.