A conversation about the upcoming referendum on May 25th (Next Friday!) is an opportunity for you to ask questions and raise concerns about what repeal of the Eighth will mean for individuals, families, and communities. So here are some tips for when you have a chat with your cousins / neighbours / family and friends.
You can Start off by asking – ‘Do you know much about the upcoming referendum on May 25th?’
If the person says Yes – you can follow on by asking ‘What are your thoughts on it?’ Or ‘Do you have any concerns / questions about it?’
If the person says No – you can tell them about it and say how important it is to get out and vote on the day and listen to their concerns and questions about it.
These are real concerns. Listening and responding to questions and concerns is a powerful way to contribute to the campaign. These conversations shouldn’t be seen as a debate to be won. As the initiator of a conversation, you offer yourself as a listening ear and a resource.
Common concerns about voting YES in the referendum
‘I’m a bit worried because I’ve heard repeal will open the floodgates to abortion on demand up to birth’.
Abortion is a reality in Ireland already. Women are taking abortion pills alone and unsupervised and are travelling to the UK to have abortions every day. Restrictive abortion laws don’t stop abortions they just make the unsafe. We need to respect the decisions women make for themselves, their lives and their families. All states regulate access to abortion, and that is what the government is proposing. The law the government proposes to introduce if the Eighth Amendment is repealed would regulate access in a way that is broadly in line with best medical practice and women’s human rights. There would be a 12-week time limit on access to abortion on request. Only in other limited circumstances can a woman get an abortion after 12 weeks, e.g. if her health is at risk. Changing the current law will require a lengthy process of discussion and debate in the Oireachtas. Also, women will choose to have abortions as early as possible. So regardless of what the law provides, we know that the vast majority of women will opt for abortion before 12 weeks.
‘Doesn’t the Eighth Amendment stop women having abortions? I’ve heard that it has saved 100,000 lives’.
No. Banning or heavily restricting abortion doesn’t stop abortions from happening. It just makes the abortions that do happen less safe. There will be women who can’t travel abroad for an abortion because they have a disability, or because they are migrants. They may not be able to access abortion pills online illegally like other women, so these bans hit them the hardest, forcing them to continue with pregnancies no matter how devastating the impact on them and their families. ‘100,000 lives saved’ is based on an estimation, not real data. There is no real evidence to support it. If a state wants to lower abortion rates, it should make sure people have proper sex education, especially young people, and provide access to contraception, including emergency contraception.
‘I’ve heard that in the UK 90% of pregnancies with Down Syndrome are aborted. I’m afraid this will happen here’.
Firstly, the law the government is proposing won’t allow abortion on grounds of potential disability. The reason so many women in Ireland go ahead with pregnancies after getting a diagnosis of Down Syndrome is because they choose to and not because our law doesn’t allow abortion. Those who choose to end their pregnancies in these circumstances are doing so anyway by travelling to another country. If society wants to respect and care for people with disabilities and their families, it must provide them with the care, services and supports they need. To reduce the rate of termination of pregnancies where Down Syndrome or other potential disability is diagnosed, the state must adopt effective approaches such as:
– Initiatives to tackle the stigma and discrimination associated with disability
– Strengthen services and opportunities, so that people with disabilities can reach their full potential, and their families are not struggling.
The 90 percent figure is not true, because this is the percentage of women who choose to be tested for Down Syndrome. When those who choose not to get tested are counted, the figure is much lower.
‘Do men have a right to be involved in abortion decisions?
Every day, men across Ireland are supporting women in their decisions around how to plan their families, including whether or not to continue pregnancies. But women alone have the right to make decisions about if and when they have children and what happens to their body. Women or girls often decide to involve their partners or other people in helping them make a decision on whether to continue a pregnancy but they must never be forced to do so. This would be incredibly damaging and dangerous in situations where the relationship is abusive or where the pregnancy is the result of rape.
Any other questions or concerns please go to https://www.itstime.ie/resources/ for more info on what a YES vote will bring to Ireland.