Together for Yes begins tour of Ireland ahead of abortion vote

Group embarks on 12-day trip to push for repeal of ‘unforgiving’ Eighth Amendment

Members of the Together for Yes campaign in Athlone on Sunday. Photograph: Liam Kidney

Members of the Together for Yes campaign in Athlone on Sunday. Photograph: Liam Kidney


The Together for Yes group has embarked on a 12-day tour of 22 locations across the State in an effort to convince more voters to back repeal of the Eighth Amendment in the forthcoming referendum on the issue.

Co-director Orla O’Connor told the campaign group’s first “Get Together For Yes” gathering, held in Athlone on Sunday, that the May 25th ballot was not a vote on abortion as “we already have abortion in Ireland”, but a vote “to decide if we will regulate it, make it safe, and care for the women of Ireland”.

She said the Amendment was “broad and unforgiving” and failed to reflect the reality for “women and families in every community, every village, every town and every county in Ireland”.

She pointed to figures from the department of health and social care in the UK which state that, between 2012 and 2016, more than 18,000 women gave Irish addresses at British abortion clinics.

“This doesn’t count those who didn’t give addresses, or who went to other European countries for the care they needed,” she said.

The May 25th referendum will ask voters whether they want to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits abortion, and allow for legislation that would permit terminations without restriction up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

‘Failed experiment’

At the Athlone event, the chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Dr Peter Boylan, described the Eighth Amendment as “a failed experiment”, adding that “abortion is here already”.

He said that, over the last year, 2,000 women in Ireland imported illegal abortion pills from online providers.

“These pills are very safe when used under medical supervision. However, if taken in the wrong dosage or at the wrong time they can cause serious, potentially fatal problems such as uterine rupture and haemorrhage,” he said.

He suggested that the Amendment created the “risk [of] waking up one morning to the news that a woman has bled to death, alone in her bathroom”, a risk that could not be ignored.

He said the “fact is that as long as we have the Eighth Amendment, we can do nothing about fatal foetal anomalies, pregnant rape victims, or some cancer patients”.

Ms O’Connor said she accepted abortion can be “a difficult topic to discuss”, but added that sometimes a private matter needed public support.

“Our ‘Get Together For Yes’ conversations tour recognises this, and it is why we are visiting 22 locations across Ireland over the next 12 days, so that we can help people start that conversation and open up that discussion,” she said.

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