Catherine Forde - IFPA
Karen Kiernan - Cherish
Aisling Reidy - ICCL
Ailbhe Smyth - WERRC
Alison Begas - Dublin Well Woman
Sandra McAvoy - Cork Women's Right to Choose Group
Ivana Bacik - Alliance for Choice
20 years since the 8th Amendment
The Alliance for Choice will publicly launch this collection of short articles by people who were active in the 1983 Referendum campaign, or who have been active in pro-choice politics since then.
Speaking at the press conference, Catherine Forde said:
"Safe legal abortion has been available in Denmark for 30 years and in June this year they have had their lowest abortion rate since then. Their abortion rate is on the decrease. In contrast Ireland, which introduced a total ban on abortion 20 years ago has had a steadily increasing rate of abortion. The difference: safe, legal abortion and a comprehensive sex education programme which starts in primary schools.
Commenting on the 1983 Referendum, Senator Mary Henry said:
'It is still a mystery to me why a group of people decided it was necessary to insert a clause into the Constitution to make abortion, which was already unlawful here, even more unlawful.The worst aspect was the wording, which denigrated the life of a woman to equality with a fertilised egg. No hint was given that her prior right to life or social responsibilities should be considered. Perhaps it fitted well in a Constitution which really only considers a woman as a mother and a worker in the home.
Drawing on her experience over the past 20 years, Cathleen O'Neill said:
"If I had a pound for every fundraiser I worked on to help working class women go to England for an abortion, I'd be a rich woman. Taking children into our homes for the duration of the visit - pretending that Mammy was gone to a funeral; holding pub quizzes, and running limited draws, as well as running sales of work and raffles under weird and wonderful names to preserve anonymity. Almost every other week. It's bad enough for those who can afford to travel, but for poorer women it's hell. It 's time those who claim to represent us to get a grip on reality and take steps to end this nightmare .
Calling for change in the law, Ivana Bacik said:
"Over the 20 years since 1983, we know that 100,000 Irish women have had to travel to England for abortions. Women with crisis pregnancies are continuing to travel every day of the week. But while we have gone through five different referendums, nothing has changed for them. It is time for us to recognise the real needs of women and change the law."