Here are the 170,216 reasons to Repeal the 8th amendment on Friday, May 25 2 years ago

Here are the 170,216 reasons to Repeal the 8th amendment on Friday, May 25

A total of 170,216 women gave Irish addresses to abortion clinics in the UK during the period from 1980 to 2016.

It's an astonishing number.


Other women do not give their Irish addresses and some travel to other countries, (to The Netherlands, for example) to access abortion.

A recent study suggested that as many as five women a day could be using abortions pills ordered online. It is unlikely we will ever know exactly how many Irish citizens have chosen to have abortions since the 8th amendment was bought in, but some estimate a figure of 250,000.

So we know that there are at least 170,216 good reasons to repeal the 8th amendment in the forthcoming referendum, but here are ten more...

1) Making abortions illegal does not stop them happening. It doesn't even stop them happening here in Ireland, as the rise in the numbers of women ordering the abortions pills online shows.

The World Health Organisation says: "Legal restrictions on abortion do not result in fewer abortions… however, a lack of legal access to abortion services is likely to increase the number of women seeking illegal and unsafe abortions.

2) The 8th amendment has killed women. Dr Peter Boylan said that: "Savita would have been offered a termination in any other European country except for Malta. She'd be alive today if she was in another country or if the 8th amendment had already been repealed." Michelle Harte was another woman denied an abortion which delayed her cancer treatment. Her doctor Louise Kenny saidL "It is an outrageous lie to say that the 8th amendment has never changed medical management or adversely affected the outcome of a woman with cancer. I have personally witnessed care denied to a woman with cancer because of the 8th. She died."


3. The 8th amendment harms girls and women. The 8th and the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act allow abortion-only where there is a serious threat to the life, not the health, of the pregnant person. Prof Louise Kenny says: "For women with complex medical decisions like this is like roulette - waiting for the pregnancy to threaten life. It makes for very bad medicine and outcomes... Nowhere else in medicine are we forced to withhold a safe procedure until someone is dying."

4. Ireland and Malta are the only countries in Europe that don't provide access to abortions, with the majority of European countries offering abortions up to 12 weeks gestation. A 2012 study by the Guttmacher Institute showed that countries with the most liberal abortion laws also had fewer abortions.

5. Ireland was investigated by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and they said that "recognition of the primary right to life of the woman... has to prevail over that of the unborn child." Grave concerns were expressed at how Irish laws treat women who are denied access to abortion. They found that women were treated by the State as "vessels and nothing more".

6. The 8th amendment (in practice if not in law), often means health care professionals prioritise the fetus over the living woman, this means that in wanted pregnancies women are being pitted against their future baby. The HSE has even gone to court and legal representation for the fetus has been provided in cases against the mother.  In the case of the clinically dead and pregnant Ms NP her family had to take the HSE to court to enable the life support to be withdrawn. The Senior Counsel representing the fetus, said that the right to life of the unborn as recognised by the 8th amendment, surpasses the right of a non-sentient woman to a dignified death.

7) Ireland already has abortion here, it's just not legal. More and more women are opting to take the abortion pill at home, in Ireland. While abortion pills are very safe when taken under medical supervision (14 times safer than pregnancy) they can be dangerous if taken too late. There is also the risk that someone could take pills that aren't from a reputable source which may not be the right medicine.


8) 81 percent of the members of the Institute Of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists voted to endorse repeal of the 8th amendment.

9) Currently, as the law stands, a child pregnant as a result of rape (even if she had been raped by a family member) would not be entitled to an abortion in Ireland. Forcing a rape victim to remain pregnant against her will and give birth to a rapist's child is not right.

10) A suicidal rape victim, now known as Ms Y, was denied the abortion she requested. Over a period of months she was forcibly detained, force fed, drugged and cut open against her will because of the 8th amendment. Variations and parts of her story have happened to other women, and in at least one case, to a pregnant child.

There are hundreds of thousands of reasons to vote yes in the forthcoming referendum; if you have women in your life it is likely you know at least one of these reasons.


In 1929, Dr Gogarty addressed a Joint Oireachtas Committee on proposals to censor information about abortions. His words are still as relevant as ever,

"I think it's high time this country found some other way of loving God than by hating women."

Looking at the distress, devastation, pain, loss and suffering the 8th amendment has caused - largely to the women of Ireland it is hard not to feel like Ireland still hates women.

We can only hope that we have developed enough as a nation in the nine decades since Dr Gogarty's comments to start finally respecting women instead.