Amnesty marks one year free of the Eighth Amendment’s cruelty and shame

One year ago today, the Irish people voted by a massive two-thirds to remove the 1983 Eighth Amendment from the Constitution, in what was a incredible victory for women’s and girl’s rights here and around the world.

To mark the one year anniversary, Amnesty is paying to tribute to those that made this happen with the powerful film, ‘Story of Repeal’; a timeline of the Eighth Amendment from 1983 to 2018, featuring leading activists, campaigners, politicians, and women who had bravely spoken out. You can watch the full film here.

“This time last year, Irish people said ‘no more’ to the 35 years of human rights violations committed against hundreds of thousands of woman and girls. They had been ahead of politicians in recognising the harm, anguish and shame inflicted on pregnant people. When finally given a chance to vote to end this suffering, the people did so resoundingly,” said Sorcha Tunney, Amnesty International Ireland’s It’s Time campaign coordinator.

“This historic referendum victory was the result of decades of campaigning by civil society organisations and activists. So many groups – from student activists, to women’s rights movements, to medical professionals – fought endlessly to challenge the harm and suffering caused by the Eighth Amendment. We are honoured to have played a part in recent years.

“We owe the Citizens’ Assembly members a debt of gratitude. It was their progressive recommendations that shaped our new abortion law. Credit is also due to the politicians on the Joint Oireachtas Committee who supported the majority of the Assembly’s proposals.

“Above all, the Yes vote was made possible because of women who refused to be silent anymore. Because they bravely spoke out about what the Eighth Amendment had done to them and their families. Because Amanda Mellet and Siobhan Whelan took Ireland to the UN human rights bodies, and won. People shouldn’t have had to speak out about the pain and anguish they experienced, but they bravely did.

“Last year’s vote was rightly celebrated as a major victory for the rights of women and pregnant people not only in Ireland, but around the world too. Given what is happening in the USA, Argentina, Poland and South Korea – amongst many others – global solidary and support is needed more than ever.

“And though the Yes vote in Ireland was a huge victory, human rights shouldn’t come down to a vote. The Irish constitution required a referendum but Northern Ireland is an example of where a government should take action for women’s rights but haven’t. We say very clearly today – the North is next.

And here in the Republic, there is still more work to be done to ensure equality of access to abortion services in law and practice. Only when all women in Ireland are free to make decisions about their own bodies, health and lives, can they be truly equal. We look forward to continuing to engage with the government to make sure Ireland’s law and practice fully respect and fulfil human rights.”