By Rachel D’Arcy
Ireland’s struggle with the Eighth Amendment has been well publicised. Our relationship and treatment of those needing an abortion, for personal or medical reasons, has been criticised widely on social media. Now, this same platform is being used to project the voice of those that are going through the ordeal of travelling abroad for a life changing/saving operation, who do not have their story told in mainstream news outlets.
On November 10th, a couple began to live tweet their journey to Liverpool for an abortion, gaining over 3,000 followers on @itstimetorepeal by 2:30pm. They already have one child, born with a genetic condition which has seen him spend long periods of time in hospital. Knowing the likelihood that this could happen again, the couple still made the decision to try for their second pregnancy.
“A fatal foetal abnormality was discovered. We had never heard of Edwards’ Syndrome before but we were told that even if carried to full term the period of life would be counted in the minutes and hours after birth. It is a crushing sentence for any person to hear let alone for my wife who has had to give up her career to become a full time carer for our little boy,” the father wrote on Twitter, referencing a scan the couple had for their unborn child.
The couple are not the first to live-blog their trip to the UK for an abortion. In August, @twowomentravel on Twitter made the journey to England, live tweeting their experience of having to leave Ireland to terminate a pregnancy. However, this is a degree more poignant, as the couple involved detailed that their fetus has a fatal abnormality – a reason for abortion legislation that has been raised time and time again by Repeal supporters.
The Eighth Amendment, and the Repeal movement, have featured prominently on social, as well as mainstream media and in Dáil Debates. Many call for the Eighth amendment to be abolished, or indeed reformed. In Irish legislation, the Eighth Amendment is defined as “the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.” This renders abortion illegal in Ireland, as the focus is on protecting the life of the fetus.
Minister for Health, Simon Harris, said it “saddens and frustrates [him] that women in Ireland can’t access abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormality” in the wake of the account being set up. Independent TD for Dublin West Ruth Coppinger referenced the Eighth Amendment in a recent Dáil debate also. “It is ludicrous that a country with the Eighth Amendment would now pose itself as being somehow progressive on women’s rights,” she said in a recent debate on legalising sex work in Ireland.