OPINION - THE 8TH AMENDMENT 1983 - Cathleen O'Neill
The 8th amendment also known as 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution was voted on in 1983 at the behest of the anti-choice movement and equated the life of a woman to equality with that of a fertilised egg.
What the 8th amendment meant to me.... full colour anti-abortion leaflets, expensive glossy productions being handed to children in schools that were tumbling down with neglect.
A copy of the 'foetus road show' video being handed to my 10 year old daughter by a 'concerned' neighbour with the instruction that she should then talk to me about it. Stones being thrown at my window because I had pro-choice leaflets there.
It meant raising money for working class women to go to Britain for abortions, taking their 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 a range of weird and wonderful names to preserve anonymity.
It meant supporting those same women during subsequent referenda when they heard the hate brigade becoming more and more virulent. It meant the Mansion House pro-choice rally and being spat in the face in the name of Jesus. It meant having my phone cut off for non-payment of the bill.
It ultimately meant that as a working class activist that my resolve to support women in the face of this opposition grew stronger and stronger - a resolve that makes me determined to continue fighting for the repeal of the 8th amendment.
Reprinted from 20 Years of the 8th Amendment, Alliance for Choice. (2003)
Cathleen O'Neill is a community development worker in Dublin.