Repeal the 8th: For health, well-being, freedom and choice

Ahead of the upcoming referendum, Lydia talks about why she is pro-choice but not necessarily pro-abortion

Written by Lydia Walsh


Abortion. In today's society, this word receives a mix of reactions and opinions from different groups of people. Some oppose abortion, a group called ‘pro-life’ and many support the choice for a woman to have an abortion, ‘pro-choice’. In the Irish constitution, except where the mother’s life is at serious risk, including the risk of suicide, abortion is illegal. This is because of the Eighth Amendment.  Before I get into this post, I feel a little bit of information on the eighth is required. Article 40.3.3, also known as, the Eighth Amendment, was voted into our constitution in 1983 and it states, ‘The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.’

Abortion has been illegal in this country since the founding of the state in 1922 and is punishable by up to fourteen years in prison. Laws on abortion changed dramatically in Britain, U.S.A. and Europe, but Ireland remained the same. This resulted in thousands of Irish women travelling to England and elsewhere such as the Netherlands for abortions. I am writing this short article to express my own views on the abortion debate that is happening in this country at the moment.

Personally, I am one hundred percent pro-choice, nothing will change my mind on that. However, though I may be pro-choice, I am not totally pro-abortion. This is a common mistake made by the people of this country –  if you’re pro-choice, you’re automatically pro-abortion – that is not true. There is a difference between being pro-choice and totally pro-abortion. Being part of the pro-choice movement means that you are fighting for pregnant people to have a say in what happens to their body, and a choice in what they choose to do with it. Being pro-choice means you support pregnant people having the option of abortion for when they may need it. Pro-choice means that you desire the freedom of people to do what they want with their own bodies, for themselves and their needs.

Unfortunately, the Eighth Amendment takes a pregnant person’s rights to their own body away. As soon as someone becomes pregnant, their rights are the same as the foetus they are carrying. For example, if a person is receiving treatment for a disease such as cancer, and they becomes pregnant, their treatment could stop as it will harm the foetus. For some women, an abortion is vital to their survival.

Some people may not be in the condition to carry a baby or may have a medical condition that would make pregnancy difficult or extremely dangerous for them, yet this is complicated by the Eighth Amendment as has been seen in the past in this country.

In other cases, some pregnant people may not be in the position to have a baby, for example, financial situation may prevent someone from being able to care for a baby, or they may already have children and another would put a strain on finances and cause their family to suffer. There are also cases in which a pregnant person actually wants to carry a foetus to term. Cases where the death of the infant upon birth is inevitable, or if the child is going to be extremely disabled and will have no quality to life and will just suffer, or cases where the baby will die or has already died in the womb, yet the mother is made carry the child until it is born.

The Eighth Amendment affects women and trans people in so many ways and takes so many rights away from us as soon as we become pregnant, no matter what the circumstance is. I believe there is little regard for the life of the pregnant person where the Eighth Amendment is concerned, and this is why I am pro-choice. Personally, I am not totally pro-abortion, and as I mentioned before, it is often assumed that pro-choice means pro-abortion.

For me, if I was in a situation where I became pregnant, I wouldn’t choose to have an abortion after the first twelve weeks, but that would be my choice. I would never condemn a person’s choice to abort after the first twelve weeks, as I am pro-CHOICE, choice being a key word here! The pro-choice side of the debate in this country is not supporting abortion alone, it is supporting choice. A person’s choice to do as they please with their own body. It is a fight for health and well-being, a fight for freedom and a fight for choice.

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