Why I will #Strike4Repeal

This March 8th, on International Women’s Day, there is a huge demonstration being organised to in aid of calling a referendum on the 8th amendment by ‘Strike 4 Repeal’. They are an ad-hoc non-affiliated group of activists, academics, artists and trade unionists who are organising this campaign which is urging those of us who can to take part. The inspiration behind the action is simple, that “every person who has an abortion has to take at least a day, whether to travel or stay at home”, so this campaign is using March 8th to stand in solidarity with them, and demand change in Ireland.

It seems this strike action also was inspired by the #CzarnyProtest demonstrations in Poland last year - where thousands took to the streets to act against a total ban on abortion access in Poland last year, as well as more traditional strike actions that have happened throughout the years to extend rights.

The Strike 4 Repeal campaign is looking to make being involved as accessible as possible, so while they are calling for those who can to strike, they’re also calling for those who can can get involved to take part in other solidarity actions. Take a day’s leave rather than not showing up to work. Wear black, even a black armband if you need to wear a uniform that day. Withdraw from domestic labour if you can. Walk out on your lunch break. Mark the day whatever way you personally can.

There are so many reasons why people are getting involved in this action. A referendum on the 8th amendment needs to be called, and with the government putting off the decision to the citizen’s assembly rather than acting on it themselves, is disgraceful. Why elect 158 people to our Dáil when they are getting 99 citizens to do the research, work, and discussions that our elected representatives should be doing?

Why am I taking part? Being a pro choice women in Ireland, I personally feel absolutely compelled to do whatever is in my power to fight for the change of the archaic law that is the 8th Amendment - as rules governing reproductive rights and health care have no place in our constitution. I’ve taken a day’s leave from work to make taking part this Wednesday possible, as I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I was able to do this.

I’m striking for repeal for every person who has had to leave Ireland to access an abortion, rather than presenting to their local medical centre and having the conversation between themselves and their doctor. Over 150,000 people have left this country to access abortion care since 1983, and this number is forever growing while the 8th amendment is still in our constitution.

I’m striking for repeal for every person who has, had or ever has to use the abortion pills, most likely smuggled into this country (even though the same tablets are kept within many pharmacies in Ireland to prescribe to those who have an incomplete miscarriage) and has, had, or will ever have to to take these pills without medical supervision.

I’m striking for repeal for every migrant person, disabled person, poor person, sick person, or anyone else who would be disproportionately affected by the 8th Amendment due to being less likely to be able to travel abroad for whatever reason to access the care they need.

I’m striking for repeal for every queer and trans person with a uterus, who too can become pregnant - to fight the erasure where this is being considered just a cisgender hetreosexual women’s issue, and the extra barriers, trauma and issues that they are facing every day, within our health service and even within our campaigns.

I’m striking for repeal for every person who’s had a pregnancy in this country and has lost their right to consent to procedures due to the 8th amendment (check out point 7.7.1 of the HSE’s consent policy if you doubt me on this), and how their choices and even safety can be overlooked.

I’m striking for repeal for every person out there in Ireland, who feels that rush of relief when a late period finally arrives and the panic of a potential crisis pregnancy has been averted. We should not have to fear our bodies, or that we too may be another consequence of the 8th amendment. Becoming another statistic.

I’m striking for repeal because enough is enough. We need a referendum now!

We won’t wait.

If you ever find yourself in need of abortion information and services, these are some resources you can use.

For accessing the abortion pill: Women on Web

For accessing the abortion pill: Women Help Women

For those who need to travel to UK: Abortion Support Network

Information: Abortion In Ireland

Information and local campaigns: Abortion Rights Campaign