Most people are familiar with the current heightened hysteria around the issue of abortion in the United States. We have covered numerous aspects of the issue, from the various state laws being pushed, the concerning statistics about the lengths some women will go to in desperate circumstances, as well as the viral campaigns that have been springing up in the wake of the now-debunked and heavily-edited videos created by an anti-choice organization in the summer of 2015 designed to attack Planned Parenthood.
Along with the increase of women boldly sharing their abortion stories in a bid to strip away the incorrect black and white narratives surrounding abortion, the US Supreme Court recently made a ground-breaking ruling in a case that firmly shut down states trying to create “back door” methods to shutting down access to abortion. In Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt, the majority ruling stated that governments forcing unnecessary ambulatory surgical center requirements and nearby hospital admitting privilege mandates on clinic did not actually help women, in fact it added to the “undue burden” on women, which was the crux of how abortion became legal in the US.
The landmark Roe v Wade ruling from 1973 allowed abortion to become a safe, regulated and legal practice in all 50 states. While many conservative and anti-choice legislators, lobbyists and organizations claim they want to see that being overturned, women across America at least know abortion is legal, despite the many hurdles some face to accessing it.
But spare a moment for women across the world who do not live in countries where abortion is legal. For those who are convinced making abortion illegal is the answer to “ending abortion” (we use quotation marks because abortion happens whether it is legal, safe, regulated or not) perhaps taking a look at the horrific lengths women will go to in certain Central and South American countries where it is forbidden. Another country which has seen the conversation around legalizing abortion heightened in recent years in Ireland.
News stories such as the woman who was subjected to inhumane treatment while carrying a dying fetus because of a ban on abortion (except if her life is at risk – which is only a very recent development), and in a now-infamous case, the Indian woman who died from a miscarriage because hospitals refused the care she needed when the fetus inside her had already died. There are now increased calls to “repeal the 8th amendment” law which is the firewall stopping women from seeking safe, legal and regulated abortion in Ireland.
As part of the movement to raise awareness about this, one woman decided to start a platform designed to allow women to share their abortion stories and also educate people on the politics and data surrounding this issue. Andrea Horan is a communications professional who launched The Hun Real Issues quite recently, and it is already gaining attention in Ireland.
She is an unapologetic feminist who wants to gather her fellow Huns to advance women’s reproductive rights. So we spoke to Andrea to get an insight on what Irish women are facing so we can stand in solidarity here in the US.
First tell us a bit about your background, where you come from, and a bit about your career.
I’m a Dublin gal, born and bred. I’ve worked in PR and communications for most of my life, specifically in Thinkhouse, a youth communications agency.
Why did you decide to create Hun Real Issues?
Everything always starts from your own experiences and personally all the feminist events or conversations I’d engaged in had always felt a little bit elitist and hard to engage in. I wanted to create something to mobilize and engage women (and men) who weren’t interested in politics and current affairs. If there’s more female voices around women’s issues and more women voters highlighting that women’s issues are red line issues for them, I think we’ll see politicians finally making them more of a priority, so it was simply a case of figuring out to how add more voices.
Over here in the US the fight for women’s reproductive rights and to make their own decisions about abortion with their doctors has reached fever pitch, but at least here abortion is legal in all 50 states (despite an increase in attacks on clinics and women turning to DIY methods due to clinic closures). But in Ireland it is very different. What is stopping abortion from becoming legalized there?
As a nation, we’ve come from a very conservative place. The Catholic Church and the government have been entwined extremely heavily and still continue to be (you need to baptize your child to get them into the state schools) so this has obviously had a huge influence in how decisions are made overall and what’s been implanted into people’s psyche. Also, there’s been a fear about talking about it, it’s not until recently women like Roisin Ingle and Tara Flynn have come out talking openly about their abortions. They obviously shouldn’t have to but it’s so amazing that they did and made it ok for the discussion to be opened up. It’s been essential to take the hysteria out of the conversation and let real women tell their real stories. This is real life bbz!
We’ve heard a number of awful news stories about women in Ireland being demonized for their choices or not being allowed to make their choices. As a woman and a feminist how does it make you feel to read about this stuff?
It’s obviously in bits but the more women who are speaking out, the more women realize there’s an army behind them who up until recently have been afraid to get involved in the conversation.
Explain what the 8th Amendment says and tell us about the growing momentum to repeal it across the country?
Taken from www.repealeight.ie: “Article 40.3.3, known as the Eighth Amendment, was voted into the Irish Constitution by referendum in 1983. The amendment states: ‘The states acknowledges 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.’ The amendment equates the life of a pregnant woman with that of an embryo or fetus and has created an unworkable distinction between a pregnant woman’s life and her health.”
It’s worth noting that this isn’t just a fight for abortion. The moment a woman becomes pregnant in Ireland she loses the right to informed decision making about her treatment, bodily autonomy, consent (medical interventions can take place without a pregnant woman’s consent) and medical best practice.
We are assuming that since politicians refuse to make abortion legal, that means no Irish woman has ever had one, right?
Ha! As if. Following the infamous “X case” from 1992, where the Attorney General secured an injunction preventing a 14 year old who had been raped from traveling for an abortion (it was overruled by the Supreme Court), a referendum was held and resulted favorably in women’s right to travel to procure an abortion – so essentially it’s ok, once it’s not happening on our watch! So ridiculous and frustrating that we cart off the women of Ireland to deal with their reproductive health elsewhere.
Just like how the anti-abortion laws aiming to stop women from making their own choices here in the US don’t work, why don’t they work in Ireland?
Abortions have always and will always happen. It’s in everyone’s interest to make sure they happen safely.
You’ve outlined on your site what lengths women are willing to go to to obtain an abortion, can you share some of those?
Women are leaving on jet planes and boats to get abortions abroad, they’re ordering abortion pills online and unfortunately many of these are seized at customs which is extremely problematic for people who’ve used their last bit of cash to get them and then to end up with no other options.
On a progressive issues front, the recent gay marriage referendum was a huge deal and showed there is a massive population who wants to see change across the country. Are you hopeful that this could change in terms of reproductive rights?
100%. Poll after poll suggests an appetite for the Irish population to grant bodily autonomy to Irish women. Women are tired of waiting and tired of having decision made for them.
What are some of the ways our readers can support your site and share your message?
Well one of the big ones is join in the Global Gathering for Repeal The 8th on the 24th September. Host a march, an event, or whatever and join in the conversation on social media on the day. You can add your voice through social media with the hashtag #RepealThe8th at any time. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for up to date info on what’s going on and @repealeight for all the facts and info on the movement.