Irish women’s #Repealthe8th tweets to Taoiseach go viral

‘Hey @EndaKennyTD just so you know, I got my period two days ago’

Eimear Clarkin from Wexford pictured at a Repeal the 8th Ammendement rally in Dublin last month. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

Eimear Clarkin from Wexford pictured at a Repeal the 8th Ammendement rally in Dublin last month. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

 

Irish women’s tweets to Taoiseach Enda Kenny this week about the details of their menstrual cycles have sparked a global media response to the campaign against the State’s abortion laws.

Women around Ireland took to Twitter earlier this week following a tweet from Irish comedian Gráinne Maguire encouraging women to share the details of their menstrual cycle with the Taoiseach as part of the #Repealthe8th campaign.

The eighth amendment to the Constitution affords equal rights to a mother and the foetus.

On Wednesday, Ms Maguire tweeted: “Since we know how much the Irish state cares about our reproductive parts - I call my womb Ireland’s Littlest embassy ;) #Repealthe8th (1/3)”

“I think it’s only fair that the women of Ireland let our Leader @EndaKennyTD know the full details of our menstrual cycle #repealthe8th (2/3)”

She then kicked off the Twitter trend by posting: “Hey @EndaKennyTD just so you know, I got my period two days ago. Pretty heavy flow at first but now occasional spotting #repealthe8th”.

The trend quickly went viral with thousands of women tweeting about the discomfort and inconvenience of their monthly bleed, asking the Taoiseach for personal tips on how to deal with periods.

Ms Maguire decided to tweet about her menstrual cycle because “if the State’s so interested in my body it should know all the facts”.

“ The shame and humiliation that Irish women are made to feel about their body and choices, the tide is turning and we’re not putting up with that anymore,” she told The Irish Times.

“He [Enda Kenny] is in a very privileged position, this is just a philosophical discussion for him.

“For women in Ireland it’s not some arbitrary thing, it’s a national crisis. We’re not second class citizens, we should have control over our bodies and not be dictated to by Enda Kenny what happens to our bodies.”

The tweets have garnered an international media response with The Guardian, New York Times, the BBC and BuzzFeed reporting on the campaign. Media outlets in Spain, Australia, the Netherlands, Austria, Japan and Ecuador also picked up on the campaign, reporting on the viral menstrual cycle Twitter trend.

The Taoiseach’s @EndaKenny Twitter account has not yet responded to any of the tweets but a statement from a spokeswoman for the Taoiseach said: “People send tweets to the Taoiseach all the time on all sorts of issues and are entitled to do so. That’s part and parcel of him being active on the platform”.

Abortion debate

Ms Maguire’s call through social media for a repeal to the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution follows a number of public campaigns in recent weeks to decriminalise abortion in Ireland. In October, Amnesty International released a short campaign film voiced by Liam Neeson and produced by television writer and director Graham Linehan speaking out against Ireland’s abortion laws.

Linehan and his wife Helen added their personal story to the campaign, speaking about the termination Helen underwent due to a fatal foetal abnormality. “The thing is, abortion will always be needed. It will always be something that is needed. Ireland is just turning a blind eye to it,” Helen Linehan told The Irish Times in an interview in October.

The Reproductive Rights against Oppression, Sexism & Austerity (Rosa) group added their voices to the #Repealthe8th campaign last month by embarking on a tour across Ireland carrying abortion pills and information on how Irish women could access abortion.

In September Irish Times journalist Róisín Ingle joined the debate by “coming out” and writing about her own abortion story.

“Like tens of thousands of women in Ireland and like hundreds of thousands of women around the world I am glad and relieved and not at all ashamed that I once had an abortion,” wrote Ingle.

The Taoiseach attended the annual Fine Gael fundraising dinner on Friday night. At the event last year he was interrupted by a group of pro-choice campaigners who “kickerbombed” Mr Kenny, serving him up a pair of knickers with the message “Repeal the 8th, Enda”.

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