Trigger warning: Article contains discussion of abortion and the laws surrounding it.
The week of the Irish referendum, I barely achieved anything. Reports were left unwritten, emails left unanswered. My flat – which needed to be cleared and vacated right after the referendum looked like a bomb had hit it. I blame it on Abroad for Yes.If you haven’t seen it, Abroad for Yes is a Facebook group, set up by a three Irish women as soon as campaigning began in earnest for Ireland’s abortion referendum. The group, which supported an overturning of Ireland’s strict abortion ban, aimed to raise funds for the thousands of Irish people living overseas who would otherwise struggle financially to return home to vote. I joined as soon as I caught wind of it, thankful for a practical way I could contribute to a vote I cared about.
“Photos were posted of tribes of women arriving at Dublin airport, greeted by families brandishing huge Repeal banners.”
As the group numbers swelled and Friday 25 May drew ever closer, the page was updated with one amazing story after another. Flights from as far away as Sydney, Australia were funded in a matter of minutes. Photos were posted of tribes of women arriving at Dublin airport, greeted by families brandishing huge Repeal banners. Voters in matching black Repeal jumpers were videoed chanting and singing on the ferry over from Holyhead. A pair of Yes voters even found each other on a flight from Buenos Aires.The joy and emotion didn’t die down after Ireland voted at long last to make abortion legal, which is why I’ve been so glued to Facebook since. It’s rare to see this level of unfettered happiness on social media, not least within the confines of the abortion debate. No gloating, no sniping, no snide comments. Just elation (and a tidy helping of relief) that a law which caused such pain and suffering has at long last been repealed.However, this positivity certainly hasn’t been echoed in the wider discourse. McGuirk, a Save the 8th spokesperson called for the majority to “accord respect and kindness to a lot of people who are very upset”. Matthew Parris wrote, with hand-wringing concern, for The Times about the evils of ‘Abortion Triumphalism’. Social media commenters expressed distaste at people “joyously celebrating the right to end the lives of babies”, “throwing a party”, crying out for “a little more dignity”. And across the border, DUP leader Arlene Foster stated that this result would not affect Northern Ireland abortion rights – that this was an “extremely sensitive issue and not one that should have people taking to the streets in celebration”
“It’s true of course that abortion is a difficult, heart-rending choice for many. But for others, it’s simple and it’s instant. It’s the only choice that will let them live the life they want.”