In Ireland abortion is unconstitutional. The Irish constitution, explicitly protects the right to life of the “unborn child” in its Eighth Amendment, which equates the life of a mother to that of her unborn foetus. This piece of legislation came about to reinforce the already stringent abortion regulations imposed on the country. The petition to ‘Repeal the Eighth’ looks to protect the rights of the mother o bodily autonomy. We must acknowlede that many of the reasons behind Ireland's strict abortion laws stem from the once very strong presence of the Roman Catholic Church in our country. In recent years, however, the grip of the church has begun to wane. Not all those that support the ban on abortion are doing so because they are devout Christians. Many do so because they genuinely believe that the termination of a pregnancy is murder, the life of the unborn foetus, who has no voice of its own, is to be protected.
In the aftermath of the recent presidential election it is evident that many of the U.S. natives I have encountered fear what is to follow this outcome. I have realised in this despair that many women fear whether their reproductive rights will change drastically. It is difficult for me to look at this despair and realise that a large part of what scares them is a part of my life at home, yet something that has never instilled such an emotion in me.
In recent years, the Catholic Church has been the subject of many scandals, in particular the involvement of many priests in the molestation of children, leaving many Catholics struggling with their faith. The result of this was that reform was encouraged and celebrated in the country and things, such as the referendum to allow same-sex marriage, were celebrated. Considering these changes people became enlightened as to the possibilities that lay before them. Thus, the ‘Repeal the Eighth’ movement began.
Those in favour of the movement believe that abortion is a human right that should be made available to those in the Republic of Ireland. While the procedure is illegal there, no laws exist that refuse women the right to travel abroad for abortions to be carried out. Pro-choice supporters have acknowledged that, while this provides the women of Ireland with choice, it excludes the many who do not have access to the funds for such an excursion, thus excluding many vulnerable women facing unwanted pregnancy from this option.
Many Irish celebrity figures have expressed their support in conjunction with the many civilians who are marching the streets in the hope that their rights will be recognised. However, while there is a large group in support of the campaign, there are also many that still favour the current laws. Abortion, to them, is fundamentally wrong and it would appear Donald Trump, the U.S. president-elect, seems to view it similarly.Trump has expressed that he is likely to allow pregnancies to be terminated in a number of circumstances, but not all. He called for the punishment of those women who choose to terminate their pregnancies. This seemed to spark a great deal of outrage amongst the American people. It concerns me to see a nation that has made significant progress in such a controversial area potentially being forced to digress so drastically. It begs me to consider the question: is abortion a presumed right or is the choice a privilege for those to whom it is available?