Ailbhe Smith who believes that the 8th amendment is an LGBT issue

Why Repeal the 8th Amendment is an LGBT Issue

The repeal the 8th amendment is an LGBT issue because it is about our sense of ourselves as people, our sense of having control over who we are, how we live our lives, and who gets to define us, says Ailbhe Smyth, as is the fight for LGBT equality.


The Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment was set up after the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act in 2013 because a small number of us, about 10 or 12 organisations, felt that the only way that we were going to get a referendum to repeal the 8th was if we grouped together to start putting the issue on the table. The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act was completely inadequate and fundamentally we have to face the music and get legislation in place that’s going to meet women’s needs.

Over the past three years the Coalition grew very carefully and now it has more than 60 organisations, crossing a very broad spectrum, including women’s organisations, trade unions and larger human rights organisations like the ICCL and Amnesty. Our strapline is: To respect and protect women’s lives, health and choices.

Our main roles have been to encourage more people to get involved, to engage and express their solidarity, and at the same time we’ve done a lot of political work. We work very hard with TDs, senators, councillors and so on to look at how repeal can come about, and with all the fantastic work being done now, we can honestly say the issue has been completely turned around. There is quite a strong consensus in the Dáil that this needs to happen, and there is a brilliant, growing groundswell of public opinion.


Time to stop denying this is a problem

People are now saying it’s time to come out of hiding, it’s time to stop denying that this is a problem. It is a problem. It’s a problem that has to be solved if we think we’re any kind of decent country at all. The pretending is over; we need equality. We need to put in place health services that women can access who need or want abortion. It’s not more complicated than that.

Building on the fantastic Yes Equality victory in May 2015, there is a sense amongst the young population, the under 35s, that we can do this. I’m not sure we had that feeling before Yes Equality; it’s enabled us to say this is social change that we absolutely need, that we can do it. And interestingly, people from the older generations who have had experiences of those in their own families, or of themselves, needing or wanting or having an abortion, are finding their voices now too.

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4 comments on “Why Repeal the 8th Amendment is an LGBT Issue”

  1. Maeve says:

    I don’t agree that abortion and LGBT rights are the same. I don’t think your sexuality hurts anyone or affects anyone else and that is why people should be free to live and make their own choices. I realise that some people may argue that gay marriage may effect the children raised in gay families but we all know it has been scientifically proven that being raised by gay parents does not have a detrimental effect on children. My view is however that abortion isn’t all about one person. There are others affected. And this is why people’s choices in this situation should be curtailed in my opinion. I think there are too many views on this issue for it to be assumed that everyone in the LGBT community shares the same one. While I am grateful to the women’s movement for their support of LGBT rights I don’t think that as a result the LGBT community is now required to support any issue.

  2. Fiona says:

    Who does abortion hurt to the extent that it requires legislation that has directly contributed to the deaths of women? I have three kids. I loved them from the moment that I knew they were conceived. I have many friends who suffer because they are infertile and treatment is either not available or not working. I have beautiful wonderful friends from diverse backgrounds raising children with a variety of significant needs. I have had friends who carried life limited children to term, both those who found it a privilege and those who had no choice. None of those diverse experiences makes it okay for the Irish legislature to curtail the human rights of women to have autonomy over their own bodies, even if people do get hurt?.The purpose of legislation should not be to prevent hurt or to police sexuality, contraception or sexual morality. The 8th is a travesty in how it brushes under the carpet something that is ALREADY happening and asks other countries to take in what are essentially political exiles. I don’t need anyone to agree with abortion or want to have one. I do want to live in a country that doesn’t deem a women’s life of secondary importance to a poorly worded piece of legislature. People’s choices are not curtailed. Women’s are. That makes it an equality issue. It’s a shame when people can’t see that.

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