Catriona Graham – Women’s rights campaigner in Brussels, Belgium, returning home to Dublin to vote yes
Since I was 14 years old, every few years, I’ve had family members and friends doing things that really weren’t safe, just because the eighth amendment meant they can’t access a safe abortion in Ireland. Abortions are still happening in Ireland. And they are happening in unnecessarily cruel situations. That’s why I want to see the eighth amendment gone.
This vote is about the kind of Ireland we want to live in. The referendum in 1983 isn’t where we are at the moment, we have come a long way in recognising women’s human rights and humanity. This is a campaign about hope, this is about realising and prioritising women’s health and safety. That, in itself, is a fantastic turning point.
Emma Jayne Geraghty Digital campaigner in Toronto, Canada, returning home to Celbridge, Co. Kildare, to vote yes
I am planning to travel home to Ireland to vote in this historic referendum to ensure women in Ireland are given control over their own bodies, access to healthcare and are trusted with decisions that affect their lives. I had the ability to travel to the UK to access a safe abortion, but not everyone can do that. I
t’s really atrocious that in this day and age, women in Ireland are being forced to travel to access safe abortion services. And those who can’t travel are having to deal with it in unsafe ways. We have to protect women and girls in these dire situations and provide them with access to safe and compassionate reproductive healthcare. I’ve been active in this campaign for years; I’ve been part of setting up repeal groups in Belgium and in Canada. After the marriage equality vote, people started opening up their hearts and minds. The shift is people are starting to talk.
Luke Howlin – Artist in Berlin, Germany, returning home to Cavan to vote yes
There is a vast diaspora of people under 35 who have had to leave to find work elsewhere and fully intend to return to their home country. That’s an awful lot of young, educated and worldly people who could influence this vote. For Ireland, this referendum is a huge statement for women’s rights. A yes vote will mean a lot for women with lower incomes, migrants and refugees – vulnerable people who can’t make that trip over to the UK easily and need the most care in a difficult situation.
When I was growing up, an argument I often heard used about why abortion should be illegal was that people felt women needed to be protected from making a choice they might regret. It’s an argument that tried to be sympathetic, but to me, in 2018, women absolutely need to be able to make their own choices. It seems like a no-brainer to me.
Sarah Blake Knox – TV production coordinator in York, UK, returning home to Dublin to vote yes
I’ve known a few people who’ve had to make that difficult decision to have an abortion, and speaking with them and having down my own research, I believe it should be in hands of people directly involved. At the moment in Ireland, whether you are opposed to abortion or not, it is still happening. And it is not safe because it’s illegal. Ireland needs to move forward and support women.
I’ve gone to marches for Black Lives Matter and other issues, but this is what I’ve been most involved in. It’s made me think the more involved you get in these movements, the more informed you are. I’ve made some friends through it, it’s just proved to me how important it is to be socially aware and get information. There have been Facebook pages set up by Irish diaspora supporting others to go home and vote. It shows that it’s not only that we want to move forward, but we want to help others make that choice.
Tessa Morgenroth – IT worker in Hamburg, Germany, returning home to Cavan to vote yes
To me it never made any sense that abortion was not legal in Ireland. Do we as a modern Irish society honestly call ourselves modern by denying women the right to choose – and do we believe it’s ever OK to force a woman through a pregnancy against her will? I’ve had two pregnancy scares, one where I almost booked flights to London. Even the thought of telling your family, travelling miles to get this medical treatment was really frightening.
I could easily say I don’t live there anymore, that it doesn’t affect me. But there are people I love who are affected by it. Irish people living abroad are still so emotionally invested in this issue. They are willing to do anything to get people home to vote, because they understand that abortion is not a ‘want’, it is a need and a right that Irish women deserve to have.
Orlaith Delargy – NGO worker in London, UK, returning home to Dublin to campaign for yes
I’ll be travelling home for the referendum but unfortunately I’m not eligible to vote. Ireland’s voting laws prevent people from voting if they’ve left the country for longer than 18 months (despite the fact that the effects of this referendum will last a generation). There is no postal vote either so even citizens within the 18 month window will have to make a costly trip home – all deterring a young vote. This is extremely frustrating for the large Irish diaspora, many of whom are young women who care deeply about this issue.
The Yes campaign has been amazing in providing ways to get involved even when you don’t have a vote. I donated to the postering campaign, helped to fund eligible yes voters to travel home to vote and will go home next week to help with final canvassing efforts, as it’s looking like conversations on doorsteps will be where this referendum is won.
All women think about what might happen to them in that situation. They’d like to think they could receive healthcare and support in that country. I grew up in Dublin, and now that I live in London I make that trip back frequently. I think about being on that plane for different reasons and how awful that would be.
Hannah Little – Campaigner and freelancer in London, UK, returning home to Dublin to vote and campaign for yes
Having made London my adopted home, every time you step on a plane back to Ireland you are very aware of the reproductive rights you relinquish. When Savita Halappanavar died after being denied a potentially life-saving termination, that was a real galvanising moment for the pro-choice moment. She died as a result of the Eighth Amendment. That was a moment when I felt, we need to do something.
This referendum isn’t a question of introducing abortion into Ireland. Women are accessing unsafe abortions in Ireland every day. If you vote no, you are essentially voting for the continued access of illegal, unregulated abortion. It’s not too late to support the campaign. The first thing Irish expats should do is check hometovote.com to find out how they can help. International pressure and campaigning is just as important as door knocking.
Ause Abdelhaq – Volunteer in Nairobi, Kenya, returning home to Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, to vote yes
I’m a feminist. I’d campaigned for access to abortion in college, and knew that I wanted my voice to be heard if this ever came to a vote. For me the heart-breaking part is that we don’t know how many young girls are trying to self-induce abortions.
What pushed me over the edge to come back home to vote is the sense that it’s a lot closer than I thought it would be. I’m not just going home because I want to be part of the campaign – the reason I am going is because my vote will actually matter. We will have a significant impact.