The abortion referendum in Ireland is taking place today.
There are people spending thousands of pounds to get home to Ireland from all over the world so they can vote, they can campaign and they can wear the Repeal clothing that has taken over the internet.
It’s 2018 and here we are, questioning whether women should have the right to an abortion.
Pro-choice campaigner, Sara White, 31, who works with Together4Yes, has been out on the campaign trail for the last few days.
‘It’s been a type of prison sentence for women here these last 35 years,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘It hasn’t prevented abortion. Abortions are still happening every day.’
Dr Deirdre Duffy, a senior lecturer of social care at Manchester Metropolitan University has conducted research on Irish women who have had an abortion without support.
‘The 8th amendment was inserted into the constitution as an anti-choice experiment by a religious, political elite who wanted to prevent Irish women accessing reproductive health care regardless of their conditions or circumstances,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘It was opposed by the Attorney General in 1983 and has done nothing but harm Irish women since then.
‘Pro-choice activists said the 8th amendment would kill women in 1981 and it has.
‘They said it would not stop abortion and it has not – over 120,000 women have accessed abortion services in English clinics since it became law.’
As it stands, approximately nine Irish women travel to another country in order to get access to a basic human right every day, while another three take illegal abortion pills.
While any choice to seek abortion is difficult, what about the women who become pregnant through force or those who fear they will suffer medical complications as a result of their medical history?
One such woman is 26-year-old Eleanor White, an Irish citizen currently based in London, who is travelling back to Ireland in order to cast her vote. She is among the thousands of people travelling back to their home country to help swing the vote their way, often tweeting with the #hometovote hashtag.
— Danielle Stephens (@DaniS1006) May 24, 2018
‘I have type one diabetes which means pregnancy can be incredibly complicated with this condition, and I would not want to risk that by being pregnant in Ireland with the 8th amendment in place,’ says White.
‘Having had an abortion myself, it’s a personal decision and there’s never just one reason for it. No one else’s moral agenda should be imposed on someone else.’
And the wider issue, those studying the issue say, affects everyone.
The 8th amendmentAbortion in Ireland has been illegal since the free state was founded. The 8th amendment, or Article 40.3.3, was voted into the Irish Constitution after a referendum in 1983,
giving the equal rights of life to the mother and any embryo or foetus she is carrying.
A woman can travel outside of Ireland for an abortion and information of those services to be made available to a woman.
While no-one can be sure of the future, experts are not predicting another referendum on this issue for a generation, as it is 35 years since the 1983 referendum.
‘It does not discriminate; whether the woman has been raped, is a victim of domestic violence, is an asylum seeker, is a child, has a fatal foetal anomaly, is undergoing chemotherapy, or has a serious long-term medical condition that means carrying a foetus could damage them irreparably,’ Dr Duffy says.
‘Women are only guaranteed the protection of the Irish state when there is irrefutable evidence that their pregnancy is killing them and even then women – and health professionals – need to fight for that recognition.
‘The pro-choice campaigner are not just campaigning for abortion; they are fighting for a long overdue recognition that Irish women deserve compassion, care, and more than a bare life.’
For some women, not having a support service can also be detrimental to their mental health given that the process of terminating a pregnancy doesn’t end when you leave the clinic.
And there is a lot of hostility against abortion in Ireland.
‘The solidarity in our fight for more equal rights and bodily autonomy for women has been something to behold,’ White says.
‘However, I have also been shouted at, called a slut and a murderer and been subjected to graphic images by members of the no side.
‘I know we’ve come such a long way and I know this country I love will forever be changed regardless of the result of this referendum.’
The support isn’t just coming from the women directly affected.
For Stacey Grant-Canham, 33, her family history has had a big effect on her decision to vote yes.
Originally from Limerick, but now living in Cardiff, Grant-Canham has fundraised over £6,000 for the yes campaign.
‘If I could vote yes, I’d be voting for every woman in Ireland to have the bodily autonomy denied to my grandmother,’ she tells Metro.co.ukh3">
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‘My nana fell pregnant outside of wedlock and was sent to Sacred Heart Home for unmarried mothers in secrecy, an institution run by the church and state to incarcerate unmarried mothers.
‘They took her daughter away from her.
‘She went on to marry my grandfather and had nine more children. Decades later, in the 80s, her first daughter Celine found her and our family was reunited.’