Irish celebrities support campaign to change abortion laws in Northern Ireland
Alliance for Choice and musician Isobel Anderson has launched a powerful and moving music video about abortion in Northern Ireland.
According to Alliance for Choice, every day four women travel to England while others use abortion pills that have been illegally obtained.
After winning the PRS Women Make Music award, Isobel Anderson reached out to Alliance for Choice.
Isobel, who moved to Belfast in 2009 says she wanted to write about reproductive rights in Northern Ireland, but she wanted to be careful not to misrepresent the lived experiences of those who have gone through it.
“Then, more and more people started sharing their stories online, and when I read Janet’s incredibly moving account, the song came together”.
The song is based on one woman's true-life account of travelling to the U.K, which was first shared on Twitter.
A fundraising campaign leading up to the video release has received support from high profile celebrities including Marian Keyes and Derry Girls actors Siobhan McSweeney and Nicola Coughlan.
— Nicola Coughlan (@nicolacoughlan) February 26, 2019
A spokesperson from Alliance for Choice says they were delighted to collaborate in the video for the song.
“The video features many of our activists, some of whom have been campaigning for decades, some who have travelled for healthcare and others who have helped people access abortion services when they needed them. We are so honoured to have Isobel approach us with her song. It’s such a beautiful song about making sure our voice is heard.”
— Marian Keyes (@MarianKeyes) February 28, 2019
Northern Ireland has the most restrictive abortion laws in the U.K. with Alliance for Choice saying that the law impacts how women having miscarriages are treated.
Northern Irish woman Vicky was devastated when she began to miscarry her much-wanted pregnancy. She says the way she was treated by health professionals nearly killed her.
“My life was nearly over due to the laws here when I was trying to miscarry a much-wanted pregnancy.
I lost control over my own body and I was just an incubator for a pregnancy that I and my doctors knew wasn’t going to be viable.”
After recovering, Vicky tried to get pregnant again but she had repeated miscarriages. After the sixth miscarriage, Vicky asked to be sterilised, as she felt she couldn’t go through the pain of losing a child again. To her dismay, she was routinely advised against it, making her feel even less in control of her future.
“Everyone forgot I was a life, no one cared about my life, I started forgetting I was a life.”
Eventually, Vicky finally won her fight to be sterilised. Vicky says that wearing one of Alliance for Choice's limited edition 'I’m A Life' jumpers was a healing moment for her.
”I broke down with happy tears. I wear it proudly because I am a life.”
Wearing her jumper, Vicky says she felt heard and seen, no longer an incubator but a life with a needs, desires and a future worth valuing.
Isobel and Alliance for Choice say that hearing about the impact the song and accompanying "I'm a Life" campaign had on Vicky made all their efforts worthwhile.
"This is probably the best thing we could ever have hoped to have come sharing this song and making this video: that it helps even just one person to feel valued and supported."