100 Voices For YES: Irish Artists Speak Up For Repeal

Over the coming days, as we move closer to an historic opportunity for the people of Ireland to get rid of an archaic part of the Constitution, we'll be sharing the words of singers, artists, filmmakers, authors and more, who are urging people to vote for Repeal.

21. Maeve Molly

Vulpynes

Throughout Irish history, this country has treated women with disdain and contempt. When I read accounts of what happened in the Magdalene laundries, I think ‘How could society let that happen?’ It seems so antiquated, like something that could only have happened centuries ago. Nowadays, our draconian laws are still subjecting women to the same type of torment. Feelings of shame, being told you can’t be trusted and the outright violation of human rights have a detrimental effect on women’s physical and mental health. If you disagree with abortion from the point of view of never wanting to have one yourself, that’s fine. However, please don’t take that choice away from someone else. Repeal the 8th!

22. Luka Bloom

Singer

I believe in a woman’s right to choose, always did. I trust the women of Ireland to decide, in privacy, what is best for their lives. And I hope that the only other people involved with this issue, in the future, are the loved ones and medical professionals they choose to share their concerns with. Unless a woman chooses to consult me, this matter is none of my business, for the simple reason that I am a man. I will never be challenged in the direct way a woman is, to deal with this issue. My only right in this matter, is to listen and to support whatever way possible, any woman confronted with the issues concerned with the 8th Amendment. The 8th Amendment gives control to Government, where there should be none, in the integrity of a woman’s body. There was always going to be a moment to repeal the 8th in Ireland. After Savita, that moment is now.’

23. Doctor Millar

Singer

I am voting for repeal because I believe that women deserve our support and compassion in a crisis, not our judgement. I believe abortion should be free, safe and legal. Life is not some ideological fairyland, it’s often about making the best decision you can in difficult circumstances. If you think that in any of those circumstances you’d like the option to be available, then morally, you have to vote Yes. I don’t do the whole angry thing, because this is a complicated issue - and I know people with deeply held personal beliefs about it. But that’s the way I’m voting, and that’s why.

24. Paula Meehan

Poet & Playwright

We have an opportunity on May 25 to respond to the complex lived experience of being a woman in 21st century Ireland. I am heartened by the number of people who have changed their position upon hearing the testimonies of women, testimonies given to the Citizens’ Assembly, given to the Oireachtas Committee, given in the media, given around dinner tables. This sharing of personal story has been a radical force not just in moving people towards Repeal, but in destigmatising abortion and in helping us understand a whole area of Irish experience that had until recently been shrouded in secrecy and misinformation. The referendum is a once in a lifetime chance to stand up for a secular republic where human rights are protected and citizens have full bodily autonomy. It is my sincere hope that we will be free at last of theocracy, the old familiar Church that denied us contraception, that denied us divorce, that denied protection to the most vulnerable children in the state; and that we will be protected against any other emergent theocracies that would seek to diminish the rights of Irish citizens and of those seeking that citizenship.

25. Loah

Singer (pictured above)

Repealing the 8th means honouring the truth about reproductive rights in this country: that every single day, 10 women travel abroad to avail of this right. The 8th does not prevent Irish abortions. It simply makes them unsafe and prevents health professionals from giving correct care. Only when we repeal the amendment can women finally be respected and attended to by our own professionals on our own shores, at home. At the root of this law is a culture of shame and silence placed on these women, irrespective of their circumstances. Repealing is about culturally, legally and practically lifting this burden of shame, and creating in its place a supportive and respectful reproductive service, which honours the bodily integrity and autonomy of women. We have swept this issue under the carpet and exported it for far too long. Vote Yes to repeal the 8th Amendment.

26. Lenny Abrahamson

Filmmaker

The Me Too movement is remarkable in many ways, but the one I want to talk about here is the way it shows how it’s kind of possible to know and not know something at one and the same time. Hollywood exploitation by powerful men of young women has been a staple of the press for decades, the basis of jokes, the stuff of a million anecdotes in celebrity memoirs… but it’s actual reality. Its cruelty and its lived awfulness for those exploited and abused remained for so long officially invisible. Or, just as bad, it seemed like it was just written into the way things are, unchangable, fixed, just something to do with human nature and we’ll leave it like that.

And then, something shifts, the number of voices pointing out the reality reaches some critical mass or a particulary gruesome and high-profile case is exposed and, for once, people who have worked for years to combat it, to call it out, suddenly they are listened to. Finally there is a swell of citizens who can see vividly what has always been dimly in front of them, and there is a real change in cultural attitudes.

Well, in Ireland we know all about this. I remember as a kid adults joking about what would happen if we didn’t start behaving ourselves, how we’d end up in one of those industrial schools. Everyone knew about the violence even in mainstream religious-run schools, about the laundries, and yet it was as if these things were only half-known. The realities as lived by the victims were not fully faced – and sure, that’s just the way of the world, no point trying to change it (this remains the case with direct provision, with huge economic inequality and social exclusion – bigger subjects).

And then came the series of abuse scandals and, most fundamentally, the testimony of survivors and, with them, things start to really shift. It seems suddenly obvious that we cannot allow this to stand, it is intolerable; single mothers can’t be locked up doing slave labour in laundries. We cannot treat our most vulnerable children with cruelty, and priests who abuse must not simply be moved to other parishes where they can continue to destroy lives.

We had recognised this awful darkness hiding in plain sight at the centre of our national life. And what is vital in this campaign is that we talk to people and show them that the 8th is part of this darkness, it is attached to and of the same nature as these other things. It is not some stand alone attempt to protect life. It is not about loving both – because it draws an obscene equivalence between the blastocyst at the very beginning of embryonic development and a human being with a history, with the capacity to suffer, with feelings and attachments. It is not even fit for its supposed purpose of preventing abortion, merely leading to abortion being exported. What it does is make Irish women less safe, and means that our healthcare system abandons women and couples during periods of the most terrible stress and grief. It is barbaric in the tradition of those other barbarities which Irish people, in the 21st century, have overwhelmingly rejected.

Things have changed since I was a kid in significant ways which we should celebrate. Attitudes to LGBT people have been transformed – a major, unequivocal victory. But these battles are not yet won. For example, we still have a situation in which the majority of children in the state do not have the opportunity to go to a completely secular or non-denominational school, and that is intolerable in a state which can only guarantee the rights of all religious beliefs and none by providing decent secular infrastructure for all citizens. But it is in healthcare and female reproductive rights that the fight is most crucial and where we finally have a chance to take a crucial step forward. The 8th is a huge barrier on the road to an enlightened Ireland, where policy is informed by rationality and compassion, not dogma and the impulse to control. Those most active in opposing Repeal are the same people who have fought against progress in every aspect of our journey and their arguments are disengenuous.

Love both – where is the active component in the sentence? It’s us, it’s the projected state and disinterested citizen standing outside the crisis, the tragedy, the rape, not the woman whose body is being discussed. Love both means regarding one, potentially, as an incubator without control over her treatment, over her own body. It’s not about loving both, it’s about controlling one. During the early stages of pregnancy there are not two sets of rights, there is just one and it is entirely a matter for the pregnant person to decide what they do with their body. Love both is to be prepared to take control over that body in ways never contemplated outside the criminal justice system and in ways which go much further than that.

The idea that the right to life springs fully formed into being at the moment of conception is entirely incoherent outside of a particular religious world view, which it is entirely valid to hold, but no business whatsoever of the state to enshrine in the constitution or laws of this republic. To fix it in law leads to positions in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape, incest and so on which can only be understood as extremist and can not be tolerated in a civilised, compassionate society.

If your deeply held beliefs make Irish women unsafe and unfree then I do not accept that they should be allowed to make law. The 8th Amendment was never needed. It was inserted into the constitution as a desperate backstop against what bad old Ireland could see as the inevitable march of progress, and it remains as a huge obstacle on the road we’ve been travelling. A Yes vote is a vote for rationality and compassion, and for the recognition of nothing less than the fundamental human rights of women in this country. The 8th comes from the same root and impulse that gave us industrial schools and Magdalene laundries, that put children in the hands of those who would beat and frighten them, that kept fear and ignorance where there should have been hope and life.

Well, I’m going to use another hashtag, like #MeToo, made popular by women in my industry, and say that on Friday May 25, if we continue to work, to campaign, to argue, to tell the truth and counter the lies and misinformation of the other side, we will at last be able to say #TimesUp for the 8th Amendment and for the attitudes which gave it to us.

27. Aislinn Logan

Singer & Songwriter

Reproductive rights are a strange thing in Ireland – the law is archaic and rooted in misogyny. What those on the other side fail to admit is that this isn’t new. We know the statistics – the plane tickets bought, the lonely journeys, the backdoor options. The stereotype we’ve been fed is a lie, and it’s time Ireland accepts that women’s rights are human rights. Repeal the 8th for the right to choice, the right to dignity, the right to live in the 21st century.

28.Kevin Barry

Author

I think that the vote on May 25 at last gives the country a chance to rid itself of a terrible weight on its psyche. The 8th Amendment is repressive and cruel. It’s a darkness that haunts us, and it lessens us as a people that it’s still there. It is against the spirit of this place, which I believe is at heart a kind one. The most important thing is that everyone must register to vote and get out there and do it and vote Yes to Repeal. Let’s make it a landslide – let’s make this a really important and definitive message.

29. Skully

Métisse

I do not believe that I (a single father) should have any say whatsoever in the private conversation between a woman and her doctor. We have controlled women in this country for long enough. I will be voting to Repeal the 8th.

30. Jamie Martin

Cry Monster Cry

We support the Yes campaign in the hopes of seeing Ireland taking a step towards being a more conscientious and caring place, where the health and rights of women are recognised and valued.

 

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