Content warning: rape, suicide
On 25 May 2018, the Irish people voted to remove the Eighth Amendment from the constitution. This amendment, which had been introduced in 1983, not only made abortion illegal in Ireland, but equated the life of a pregnant woman to the life of a fertilised embryo. Despite this criminalisation, the ban on abortion was always resisted and circumvented. In the years leading up to the 2018 referendum, a grassroots movement pushing for repeal emerged on an unprecedented scale, sending tens of thousands of people out canvassing in villages, towns and cities around the country.
This victory for the Irish Repeal movement set the country alight with euphoria. But, for some, the celebrations were short-lived – the new legislation turned out to be one of the most conservative in Europe. People still travel overseas for abortions and services are not yet commissioned in Northern Ireland.
This month Pluto published a new book, Repealed: Ireland’s Unfinished Fight for Reproductive Rights, by Camilla Fitzsimons, with Sinéad Kennedy, and a foreword by Ruth Coppinger. We are joined on the show by Camilla, Sinéad and Ruth to discuss the history of the Catholic Church and women’s oppression in Ireland, the introduction of the Eighth amendment in 1983, and the qualitative turning points in the long road to repeal. We also consider the lessons from the campaign, and the challenges that still remain, more than three years later.