The new video for the Repeal the 8th campaign steps up the pressure

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Elle Griffiths
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Repeal the 8th campaigners have intensified their pressure on the Irish government with a new short film that brilliantly captures the on-going struggle for bodily autonomy in Ireland.

The film comes as the country’s Citizens’ Assembly is due to vote this weekend on whether or not it will recommend any change in the state’s archaic abortion law. 

Shot in all black and white, the video shows a group of Irish women wearing Repeal the 8th jumpers while dancing on Bull Island in Dublin Bay, an iconic beauty spot in the Irish capital. 

A caption reminds the viewer that "between January 1980 and December 2015, at least 166,951 women and girls traveled from the Republic of Ireland to access abortion services in another country" before using a quote from Margaret Sanger, the legendary American birth control pioneer and advocate. 

Over a shot of waves from the Irish sea lapping the shore, it reads: “No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body”.

The film was directed by model turned film-maker and activist, Laragh McCann.

Speaking to i-D magazine, the 26-year-old said, “I hope that the piece – as well as encouraging sisterhood and solidarity as we endure hardships together – also encourages a bridge of understanding from people who are very clear about being pro choice, to those who are in a grey area.

“I aimed to make an inclusive piece, not vilifying people who are not yet pro-choice, but reaching out to them.”

As an increasing number of women attend protests and events in Ireland – including several marches and concerts scheduled for this weekend – the issue is becoming more and more mainstream and visible.

And in February, the campaign developed a new sense of urgency after Marie Stopes, Britain’s biggest abortion provider, announced they were struggling to handle the number of Irish women the country exports to the UK and would soon be referring them to British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).

But BPAS also revealed they wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand for much longer. 

The eighth amendment to the Irish constitution, dating from 1983, equates the life on an embryo or foetus to that of a woman, making abortion completely illegal in Ireland under all circumstances.

Terminations are only permitted when the mother is at risk of dying as a direct result of her pregnancy. But as seen with Savita Halappanava, the woman who died of sepsis after being denied an abortion to save her life by a Galway hospital in 2012, even this is not always the case.

It is not yet known what the exact wording of the options will be, but the Citizens’ Assembly ballot will be this weekend and voting will take place in secret.

However, it is widely thought that the assembly voters will have three options; to leave the constitutional ban on abortion as it is, to recommend the amendment be altered to allow access to abortion in some circumstances, or to strike it from the constitution altogether. 

Campaigners are pushing the assembly to strike the eighth amendment completely and not settle for a watered down recommendation. 

Images: Rex Features/Repeal Project


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Elle Griffiths

Elle Griffiths is a freelance writer living in Brighton. She divides her time pretty evenly between despairing about American Politics, watching Mad Men re-runs and complaining about Southern Rail delays.