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Enough is Enough, Repeal the Eighth Amendment

Another day, another revelation about the Irish state’s archaic, misogynistic and unbearably cruel treatment of a rape victim, pregnant as a result of her ordeal – 22 years ago it was a 14 year old girl – today we know she’s young, a migrant with unclear status in Ireland and lacking in fluent English.

Nothing has changed with the passing of “The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act”. Incremental change, dressed up as progress is not good enough. We have to end the whole premise of the equating of a grown woman or girl’s life, with that of a foetus.

As the facts are emerging, one grows more and more disturbed at the state’s outright abuse of a vulnerable young woman’s body and psyche. Presenting at approximately 8 weeks, suicidal as a result of her pregnancy, the protracted process included; ‘experts’ from the medical field, court orders, including one for her forced hydration after her resorting to hunger and thirst strike on account of her belief that the abortion she needed was being denied to her (and as Maireid Enright has pointed out – it’s still unclear as to whether this order was intended to bring the foetus to the point of viability), an attempt to legally force the woman’s submission to agreeing to a C-section that she eventually capitulated to, and incredibly, a lawyer for the ‘unborn’, as well as for the woman.

As the pro-choice movement predicted, last year’s new law has not made abortion accessible, and if anything has marginally worsened the situation – if there wasn’t a pretence on behalf of the state that women who are suicidal as a result of pregnancy could access an abortion in Ireland, perhaps the woman in question may have taken an easier route, such as ordering illegal abortion pills online, as so many women and girls in Ireland are now doing.

The catastophic abuse that a victim of rape received at the hands of this backward state has to be a spur to a new mass struggle for abortion rights. The 8th amendment must be repealed. Only a struggle from below can force the conservative establishment to act.

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