‘Motherhood is a choice’: artists respond to ‘Repeal the Eighth’

In advance of International Women’s Day, artists offer illustrated responses to the Eighth Amendment

An anthology of work by artists and illustrators is being published to mark International Women's Day and to highlight the issue of abortion rights in Ireland.

The Mine anthology, featuring more than 30 contributors, is an artistic and creative response to the right to choice on reproductive rights and to the repeal the Eighth Amendment campaign (the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution was introduced in 1983 following a referendum, and effectively bans abortion in Ireland).

On the eve of International Women's Day, we present a selection of works from the anthology, which is being published in support of the Abortion Rights Campaign. It will be launched at The Workman's Club, Dublin, on Tuesday, March 7th. For more information visit www.facebook.com/MineAnthology

When You're so Happy That You're not Pregnant, by Ciara O'Neill
It's likely that every woman will have at least one pregnancy scare in her life. My work captures that moment of relief that follows the arrival of one's period. The moment you can say: "I'm not pregnant". This statement has extra weight added in Ireland: if a woman becomes pregnant her life no longer belongs to her but to the State; she has been denied a choice.


Solidarity, by Laura McAuliffe
Now more than ever, artists must step up and express the stories of the people given the huge disparities of power globally and the resurgence of neo-fascism. It is easy to become hopeless but satire is a wonderful salve and art can be a powerful tool of resistance.

Ah Go on, Go on, Go on by John Braine
I got it into my head that I wanted to paint a famous duo for the Dublin Canvas, a community art project aiming to brighten up the city by painting traffic boxes. As soon as the image of Ted and Dougal popped into my head, I knew that was the one.

Repeal the 8th, by Con O'Brien
When I was asked to paint a mural I wanted it to be striking, to grab attention so I used a large empty background, for the main section of the mural I wanted to keep very simple and easy to read as to me that was the main focus.

Spare a Thought, by Tanya Cody
I often think about what Irish women have to go through to access the medical care they need. The pain they must feel, packing their bags, an exile imposed by barbaric and outdated laws. Stop exporting the issue. Repeal the Eighth.

My Body is Not Mine, by Dearbhla Ní Fhaoilleacháin Ryan
I wanted to capture my feelings of claustrophobia and "buairt" and being made a prisoner by your own body and country. That my body is governed by an uncaring government. There's not really a hand over my mouth but that's how it feels while women and girls are dying or being forced to take crazy risks and still, still, no one is listening to us.

Bodily Integrity, by Marjolein Moonen
She looks like she's trying to protect herself, I thought when I made this print, which is inspired by a photo I took of the Goddess of Love in Naples' Archeological Museum ; it is an apt reminder of the need for women to guard against external interference with our bodies. In my home country The Netherlands state-funded clinics have offered free abortions for more than 40 years. And the heavens haven't fallen in. Nor has the country descended into debauchery. I wish the Irish Government had the courage to progress the matter, but now that we have a Citizens' Assembly, I would like to see a conversation with everyone who is invested, rather than a hand-picked group of stakeholders.

Short Herstory of Abortion Rights in Belgium, by Nina Nijsten
For my comic I preferred to focus on what I know better: the history in my own country (Belgium). In Belgium people take it for granted that abortion is a legal possibility, even though it's also quite recent. But this is a right that has been fought hard for, for many decades, and also a right that can be taken away by an unfriendly government any time if we're not careful. I also find it a funny story that the king was "uncrowned" or found "unfit to rule" for 1 day so this law could be passed. I wish we could do that more often to pass necessary laws.

Repeal the 8th and The Anatomy of Autonomy, by Róisín Blade
The hands bound in chains represent the struggle for reproductive rights, the ethical dilemma faced by our medical professionals and the threat of a 14-year prison sentence. The Anatomy of Autonomy is self-explanatory: my body, my choice.

My Body is Mine by Zara Franciszka Ward
Women deserve safe and legal abortions in their own country.

The 8th Amendment, by Ciara Kenny
I wanted to show the far-reaching implications of the Eighth Amendment, not just for women who need abortions, but for all pregnant women, for healthcare professionals, for men, and many, many others, as well as the consequences of keeping it in place. I hope the graphics help people recognise their own beliefs and realise the inhumanity of the situation as it stands.

Shackled, by Dearbhla Kelly
I had this idea knocking around my head for a while of the '8' as a set of handcuffs shackling a pair of desperate hands, which could represent so many people affected by the Eighth – women forced to travel for abortion, women who don't have the means to, doctors and midwives whose hands are tied by the constitution.

You're Pregnant, by Clare Foley
I felt that engaging the viewer, encouraging them to put themselves in someone else's shoes, was key to making a simple point about the accessibility of these health services. I used the format of a 'flow chart' and the juxtaposition of the lightness of colour and cartoon-ish figures with the more sombre text would highlight the seriousness of the subject matter and the urgent need to address it.

Anais Nin on Motherhood, by Karen Harte
I was immediately struck by this quote when I first heard it. Anais Nin's frank writing on sex and abortion was radical in 1940s America and still seems radical in the context of Ireland today. I believe that the idea of motherhood being a decision and a choice is very powerful, the "radical" idea that women should have options, control and autonomy over their own bodies.

Ireland: Land of a Thousand Welcomes, by Nessa Finnegan
This draws inspiration from Irish tourism posters of the 1920s and 1930s, of a wholesome, idyllic Ireland, an island of beautiful landscapes and friendly people. I chose to to subvert their message – to show Ireland as it is, an island that discriminates against all women, where women are exported like any other goods, package or problem.

Repeal the 8th, by Neidin Rodgers
I wanted to include different genders, races and ages in my illustration to show the Eighth Amendment doesn't just affect women, it affects us all. I wanted this illustration to show how we should unite to repeal the Eighth.

My Body my Choice, by Julie Rosebud
My drawing is a very light and funny one, but for me symbolic of the right to self-determination. There can absolutely not be anyone but you who owns your life and your body.

Repeal, Deirdre Byrne
This illustrated portrait was drawn over a collage of torn up ferry and plane tickets. The destinations of which being some of the places women in Ireland have to travel to for an abortion.