Campaigners welcome drop in Irish abortions in UK

Groups are marking the one year anniversary of the referendum to repeal the eighth

Ailbhe Smyth, former co-director of Together for Yes, said there were less Irish women accessing UK abortion services.

Ailbhe Smyth, former co-director of Together for Yes, said there were less Irish women accessing UK abortion services.

 

There has been a significant drop in the number of Irish women accessing abortion support services in the UK since the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment a year ago, according to campaigners.

Ailbhe Smyth, former co-director of Together for Yes, was speaking at an event on Thursday to mark the one-year anniversary of the referendum vote in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment.

“In the five months since abortion services were introduced in Ireland, we are hearing anecdotally that there has been a significant reduction in the number of women contacting UK-based abortion support services,” she said.

“This is evidence of the very real impact the repeal vote is having on Irish women. The most significant impact of the vote has been on the everyday lives of women. Now, anyone who needs an abortion in Ireland is legally entitled to one.

She said last year’s “momentous result means there will be no more boats, no more flights, and no more hiding in shame”.

“However, there is still much to be done to ensure abortion services are made available to women throughout the country, free from harassment.”

National Women’s Council of Ireland director Orla O’Connor, who is also a former co-director of Together for Yes, said there had been a “ripple effect” from the vote on wider society.

“There has been a notable increase in the number of women participating in politics and putting themselves forward for election,” she said. “Women are also leading campaigns on housing and climate change and violence against women.

“The Together for Yes campaign was a turning point in Irish politics – we showed that people of all ages, genders and varying political experience can work together to bring about political change that impacts on the everyday lives of Irish people.”

Gráinne Griffin, a founding member of the Abortion Rights Campaign and also a former co-director of Together for Yes, said the referendum win was the culmination of decades of work.

“Thinking back on the events of last year, the historic result was down to the grassroots nature of the campaign and the amazing work of the volunteers who marched, campaigned, organised, canvassed, and shared their personal experiences,” she said.

“The Together for Yes campaign wasn’t won over the course of a few months – it was the culmination of decades of work by individuals and organisations around the country who believed in, fought for, and won equal rights for women in Ireland.”

Pro Life Campaign spokeswoman Maeve O’Hanlon said the organisation was continuing its work despite the result of the referendum.

“The pro-life movement is bruised but not beaten after last year’s referendum,” she said. “We are hugely encouraged at the way pro-life volunteers remain committed given the setback that happened.

“Responsibly and persistently, we will fight on to ensure the truth gets out about the kind of abortion regime this Fine Gael-led government has introduced. You only have to look at what’s happening in other countries to see that this battle is far from over.”