On March 8, Irish women will strike for one day against the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, the restrictive 1983 abortion law that equates the mother’s right to life to that of the fetus and establishes a prison sentence of up to 14 years for those who practice illegal abortions.
The law forces thousands of women every year buy illicit abortion pills online without medical assistance. At least 12 women per day travel at their own expense to England or Wales, where abortion is legal. The Eighth Amendment forbids abortion on Irish soil, except in cases where the woman’s life is in danger. Abortion is even illegal in cases of rape.
Around 2012, civil rights activists, feminist groups and other associations launched the “Repeal the 8th” campaign, calling for a referendum to abrogate the Eighth Amendment. The last large rally was held in the fall, when tens of thousands of people — mainly women but also men — marched in Dublin in the rain to demand the government call a referendum. Two parliamentary opposition groups, the People Before Profit Alliance and the Anti-Austerity Alliance, picked up the torch, presenting a motion to set the date of the vote.