A powerful short film also chronicles the fight for repealing the eighth amendment one year on from the historic vote
One year on from Ireland’s historic vote to end the abortion ban, Amnesty International is celebrating the campaigners and activists who courageously spoke out for reproductive rights and worked tirelessly to ensure the victory in Ireland, as well as demanding similar change alongside activists in Northern Ireland, which remain among the harshest in the world.
The human rights organisation released a powerful short film, Story of Repeal, on Friday (May 24), chronicling the fight to repeal the Eighth Amendment in the words of those who led the charge against it – accounts from Albhe Smyth, co-director of the Together for Yes campaign, Sorcha Tunney of Amnesty International Ireland, and many others affected by the archaic law, paint a moving picture of the day of the vote.
“Getting up on polling day, it was a glorious day. The sun was splitting the stones,” says Gaye Edwards – who was once denied access to abortion in Ireland – in a trailer for the film, “and putting my yes vote into the ballot box felt like the culmination of a lifetime of work,” adds Albhe Smyth, “I’m not going to revise my 55 per cent but you never know because if we could get it to 60 we would be so home and away… and it was 66.4 per cent, which was just beyond amazing.”
The human rights charity also marked the date with a series of ‘Now for Northern Ireland’ projections across London, Dublin, Belfast, and Glasgow, imploring onlookers to consider the abortion laws still in place there, which are more restrictive than those currently causing widespread outrage in the US state of Alabama.
Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, tweeted of the uproar at the southern state’s laws: “Hey uk progressive gents – women in Northern Ireland AS WELL as doctors facing life imprisonment in the UK for an abortion. Alabama terrible and our own country reprimanded by the UN for our own human rights abuses. Speak out at home as well as against trump & co…”
Amnesty International’s projections were the work of Irish artist Maser, whose giant ‘repeal the 8th’ heart painting – which became a defining visual of the repeal the eighth campaign – was re-worked to say ‘Now for Northern Ireland’ and projected onto the Northern Ireland Office in Westminster, The Mac building in Belfast, the Mary Barbour statue in Glasgow, and the Project Art Centre in Dublin where his original mural was painted.
Grainne Taggart, the campaigns manager for Amnesty International said of the anniversary: “The UK Government must now to end the harm and hurt caused by our inhumane and discriminatory near-total abortion ban,” adding that the projections “shine a spotlight on the unjustifiable neglect of people in Northern Ireland.”
Reforming Northern Ireland’s abortion laws has widespread support in Westminster and The Women and Equalities Committee, which formed to examine the Government’s performance on equalities issues, has just launched the findings of their inquiry into Northern Ireland’s abortion law and have called on the government to take urgent action.
Read our piece on why abortion reform in Northern Ireland is so important here, and you can watch the full Amnesty International film below.