#HOMETOVOTE - Campaigning for Repeal when you don't have a vote
As a Northern Irish woman, even though I have an Irish passport, I’m not eligible to vote in this year’s referendum on the Eighth Amendment. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care, and it doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways for me to get involved with the campaign writes caitlin de jode.
Nine women from the Republic of Ireland, plus a further two from Northern Ireland travel to England for an abortion every single day. Many more take safe but illegal medication to end their pregnancies. None are given the chance to decide what’s best for them, their families and their futures, and access the appropriate healthcare at home in Ireland. The Eighth Amendment affects all pregnancies – wanted or not, as well as restricting the options of doctors and nurses involved in clinical care during labour. Whilst the laws are different in Northern Ireland, the outcome is the same – that pregnant people are denied autonomy and reproductive choice, even in the most heart-breaking circumstances. That’s why I’m pro-choice, and why I’ve been campaigning to change the laws in Ireland.
As an activist with the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign, I’ve been contributing to the fight for access to free, safe legal abortion across Ireland in lots of different ways. We’ve been fundraising for the Coalition to Repeal, the Abortion Rights Campaign and Alliance for Choice over the last few years, and we’ll keep doing that in the run up to the referendum and beyond. We’ve also been working hard to increase awareness of this issue here in England, especially amongst the Irish abroad. Our #HomeToVote campaign, which launched last month, is designed to help the thousands of voter-eligible Irish abroad get the boat (or plane) to vote on referendum day. If you’re not sure how to get involved, go to hometovote.com and find out more.
I’ve also signed up to Give8Repeal8 to support the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment by donating eight euros each month from now until the referendum. While it’s clear that the Repeal campaign has the momentum, the numbers and the grassroots enthusiasm, the fact is that the other side have more money than we do. If Irish citizens across the world – especially those denied a say by Ireland’s restrictive voter eligibility laws – all commit to this, it’ll do a lot to put us on an even playing field.
Finally, I’ve been saving up my annual leave so that when the referendum date is (finally) announced, I can book some time off work to go back to Ireland and campaign. My family home is about an hour from the border, and I’m going to be spending the week before the vote doing whatever is necessary – whether that’s canvassing, flyering, driving volunteers around, providing childcare for other volunteers, or just making industrial amounts of tea for those who’ve been out campaigning.
Of course, I don’t currently live in the Republic of Ireland, the Eighth doesn’t directly affect me right now, and so it’s not my place to decide how the campaign should be run. Instead, I’ll be supporting local organisers and volunteers with the Abortion Rights Campaign, helping however I can. To find out what you can do, go to hometovote.com and get involved. It doesn’t matter what you do – just do something.