On Friday two-thirds of the Irish electorate voted to remove the discriminatory Eighth Amendment from our Constitution. It is no wonder Galway West and East both voted Yes by such large majorities. We have seen firsthand the negative effects of the Eighth Amendment in our county.
Our victory is bittersweet as we must think of all those who suffered in the 35 years the amendment gripped Ireland. When the result was officially announced we thought of Savita Halappanavar whose death at the hands of the Eighth has left lasting scars on Galway’s residents. Hundreds of thousands of people in Galway voted Yes voted with her suffering on their minds, alongside the memory of the thousands of Galway women who travelled since 1983, who took safe, but illegal, abortion pills, or who were not afforded quality maternity care because of the Eighth Amendment.
Our fight to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution was anything but quiet and we will refuse to be quiet until every person who needs an abortion or maternity care in Ireland can access one freely, safely, and legally. The Irish people voted overwhelmingly for abortion on request up to 12 weeks and Galway Pro Choice will work to ensure that Galway TDs do not obstruct the Bill or try to restrict access to abortion in any way.
We reject Simon Harris’s proposal that an abortion could cost more than €300, a cost that is out of reach for many in Ireland. The proposed GP led service should be provided freely to any woman who needs it like other maternity care services. We must continue to fight conscientious objection and ensure that the women and pregnant people of Galway do not suffer if their GP refuses to prescribe abortion pills. Most GPs will provide care to their patients but for the minority who refuse, they must refer any woman who comes to them seeking an abortion to an accessible GP or primary care unit who will help them. We also reject the criminalisation of medical professionals within the heads of Bill as this will continue to act as a chilling factor in providing care. We must continue to look to the World Health Organisation’s guidelines that states both conscientious objection and mandatory waiting periods are not medical best practice.
“Galway Pro Choice will continue to campaign for full reproductive justice in Ireland including free, safe, and legal abortion, choice in pregnancy and childbirth, freely accessible contraception and comprehensive sex education” commented Muireann O’Sullivan, Galway Pro- Choice, “Our friends in Northern Ireland are still fighting an equally important struggle. Northern Irish Feminist’s support to Galway Pro Choice and the Abortion Rights Campaign in our fight for repeal cannot be underestimated. Decriminalisation of abortion in the North is no mean feat but we will fight alongside our comrades in the North until free, safe, and legal abortion is widely available in both North and South Ireland.”
“We cannot thank the people of Galway enough for their support over the last six years,” said Muireann. “To every person who attended an open meeting, who donated funds, who marched with us, who talked to their friends, families, and colleagues about repeal, and who voted Yes last Friday thank you. The role of grassroots organising in bringing about real change in this country cannot be underestimated. Ireland made history on May 25 and every person who voted Yes had a part to play in ensuring the Ireland to come is compassionate and caring to all people who become pregnant.”