Delete the 8th - no restrictive wordings


The delaying is almost over and a date for a referendum to finally overturn the 8th amendment has almost been confirmed. But - as expected - the government are now publicly threatening to present a wording other than the one needed - a vote to remove the anti-choice Article 40.3.3.

The media are reporting that the government are instead trying to somehow present a referendum that would include the terms abortion could be accessed under. Essentially the overwhelmingly old, male and conservative government do not want to follow the recommendations given by the very body they set up to avoid such responsibility. The creation of the Citizens Assembly was clearly imagined by the government as a way a new, very restrictive, anti-choice regime could be created in the aftermath of the referendum and presented as ‘the people’s will’.

However it turned out when 100 random people heard weeks of expert testimony they decided the reasonable moderate position was the one where restrictions on pregnant people would be removed or at least minimised. To the anti-choice extremists in power this was unexpected, they were only willing to concede movement on the very edges of the extreme anti-choice laws under which pregnant people and doctors face a 14 year jail sentence.

It’s hard to see what sort of new wording they would imagine for the constitution - but that was also the case in 1983 and it still happened. Before the 1983 referendum experts warned that the proposed wording that was passed would open a reactionary pandoras box and - despite the denials of the then government - they were proved right. In the years that followed the anti-choice movement used that wording to go on a legal offensive that at its height saw newspapers banned for simply carrying the phone numbers of clinics in the UK, books removed from libraries and a dozen student union leaders fined a sum that at that time would have bought 4 houses in Dublin.

This as the photo shows failed to intimidate students who continued to publically break the law by distributing the Womens Information Network number. WIN was an underground feminist collective providing abortion information to callers - who had to find the number written on toilet doors or by being lucky enough to come across an illegal protest or leafleting session.

A climate of fear was reinforced in hospitals and communities that saw women die because treatment for conditions like cancer was refused to pregnant women. 15 year old Anne Lovett died months after the referendum was passed attempting to give birth alone on a cold wet January day outside in a religious grotto. Supposedly no one had noticed she was pregnant, including the nuns at the school she attended. That offensive peaked in 1992 when the anti-choice movement over reached and tried to stop a 14 year old rape victim travelling to the UK for an abortion in what was called the X-case. That proved too much and there was an explosion of resistance as people poured onto the streets. Even when protests forced the supreme court to overturn the injunction that movement stayed active and over the 25 years since pushed back the anti-choice offensive and now demands removal of the 8th amendment.

In other words we have lived - and some have died - for over 40 years under the ‘unexpected consequences’ of the wording of the 1983 referendum. Consequences that became clear soon after it was passed. We can’t afford another anti-choice referendum with a wording designed to restrict access to medical services for pregnant people. We can not accept that.
Saturday sees the 6th annual March for Choice in Dublin. It’s a very well timed opportunity for masses of people to show our overwhelmingly old, male and conservative government that they won’t get away with sticking their views in the constitution, views we would have to live under for decades. Don’t sit this one out, make every effort you can and we will see you at Parnell square at 1.30 this Saturday 30th September.