Pictured at the launch of the North West Coalition to Repeal the 8th: St Angela's College Students Union President, Aoife Deasy and Guest speaker, author and journalist, Susan McKay.
On Thursday, January 18, a large crowd turned out for the launch of the Northwest Coalition to Repeal the 8th, which took place at The Glasshouse Hotel, Sligo. The invited speaker for the meeting was award winning author and journalist Susan McKay.
During her speech Susan reflected on the recent Dáil discussions that have taken place surrounding the 8th amendment.
Susan said “It was moving to hear sane voices talking with compassion and understanding about abortion in the Dáil. It felt like change is coming. However, the bizarre 34 years too late Garda Síochána apology to Joanne Hayes reminded us that the distrust of women, the fear of female sexuality, and the impulse to punish and control it, have been slow to die in this country.”
Recalling the 1983 referendum campaign that saw the 8th amendment inserted into the constitution, Susan recalled, “The anti-amendment campaign in 1983 had as its slogan: “It’s life that needs amending, not the Constitution.
“During an ugly campaign, men who had formerly been hard-pressed to find anything to say about sex were to be heard holding forth at bus stops and in bars about ectopic pregnancy, zygotes and ensoulment of the foetus,” she said.
“Those responsible for persuading the government to introduce the amendment made wild claims – rape crisis centres, for example, had only been set up as a front to push for abortion and women who were raped did not get pregnant anyway. Pure sexist nonsense, such as the theory of “hetropaternal superfecundation” which had Joanne Hayes pregnant by two men simultaneously.
“The Eighth Amendment is a relic of that harsh time, those cruel attitudes. It is an insult to women and has caused endless suffering. Ireland cannot truly be said to be a different place until that amendment is removed from our constitution. After that, an apology to all of the women of Ireland would be both appropriate and appreciated.”
The chair for the meeting was president of St Angela’s College Students Union, Aoife Deasy.
Aoife noted the variety of people who were getting involved in the campaign to Repeal The 8th.
There was a call for anyone who wished to get involved in the campaign to get in touch with the Northwest coalition, through email or social media, to amplify the many voices in the Northwest who want to see the 8th Amendment repealed in the upcoming referendum.