Pay Attention To Abortion In Ireland
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Pay Attention To Abortion In Ireland

Get in the Women’s History Month or St. Patrick’s Day sprit and show some support.

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Pay Attention To Abortion In Ireland
Photo: Elizabeth Sloan

We looked down with worry in our eyes, at the two-pack of pregnancy tests on the checkout counter at the Walgreen’s down the street. The blonde girl in the blue vest ringing us up said, “We’ve all been there”. I laughed, only because I wasn’t the one taking the tests. We rushed up to my apartment where we awaited the results of the tiny pink sticks. When the lines revealed themselves to be in her favor, we both let out a sigh of relief. But what if she had been pregnant?

According to a CDC report, 652,639 legal abortions were reported in 2014, of which women in their twenties accounted for the majority. Thanks to the Fourteenth Amendment and the 1973 US Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade, women in the United States have the right to abortion throughout the entirety of a pregnancy. However, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant just passed the harshest abortion ban in the country earlier this month.

After listening to an episode of my favorite podcast, Guys We F****d, in which an Irish woman wrote in about abortion in Ireland and their upcoming referendum, I want to talk about it.

Article 40.3.3, known as the Eighth Amendment, was voted into the Irish Constitution by referendum in 1983. The amendment states: ‘The states 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.’ This amendment equates the life of a pregnant woman with the life of an unborn fetus.

In 2012, a 31-year-old woman named Savita Halappanavar died at University Hospital Galway in Ireland. After being told that she was having a miscarriage, Savita requested an abortion. The hospital staff refused, and she died of sepsis days later. Unfortunately, tragedies like that are very common.

Because of the Eighth Amendment and Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act of 2013, between January 1980 and December 2016, at least 170,216 women and girls have traveled from the Republic of Ireland to access abortion services in another country. In 2010, the abortion rate in the United States was 14.6 abortions for every 1,000 women, whereas the abortion rate in the Republic of Ireland was 4.5 abortions for every 1,000 women.

In Ireland, any woman or doctor that performs an abortion can be criminalized . Abortion pills and the distribution of them have been made illegal. Abortion is not permitted in cases of incest or rape, and, even worse, a woman who seeks an abortion after a rape may face up to 14 years in prison. In cases where fatal fetal abnormalities are detected, women are forced to carry to term. Many women seek medical care in nearby countries but have no support system when they return home.

The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment works with over 100 organizations, including human rights, feminist and pro-choice, trade unions, NGOs, community organizations and more, to raise awareness of the need for a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

The country is split; it’s pro-life versus pro-choice. Although there have already been five referendums pertaining to the issue, Ireland is preparing for another one in May, which, if approved, would make the termination of pregnancy legal with no restriction up to twelve weeks. The opinion polls might show a majority in favor of repeal, but every vote will count.

Whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, it’s important to form an opinion based on facts and statistics. It’s easy to ignore issues that aren’t apparent in our own lives, but the safety of mothers and their babies should be a priority to every person, no matter your address.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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