Camilla Fitzsimons, Ruth Coppinger and Sinéad KennedyJan 27, 2022
Ireland's Unfinished Fight for Reproductive Justice
Pluto Press 2021
Camilla Fitzsimons is an activist and a member of the Dublin West Pro Choice group. She works at Maynooth University and is the author of Community Education and Neoliberalism. Sinéad Kennedy is the co-founder of The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth and an executive member of Together for Yes. She works at Maynooth University and is the co-editor of The Abortion Papers, Ireland.
In this interview Fitzsimons and Kennedy discuss their new book Repealed: Ireland’s Unfinished Fight for Reproductive Rights (Pluto Press, 2021), a celebration and analysis of a 35-year long grassroots movement that successfully overturned the ban on abortion in Ireland
In 1983, the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution created defined legal protections for the “unborn” and led to the Republic of Ireland having one of the strictest abortion regimes in the world, at a time when the rest of western Europe was liberalizing abortion access. In 2018, this constitutional ban that equated the life of a woman to the life of a fertilised embryo was overturned and abortion was finally legalised. This victory for the Irish Repeal movement set the country alight with euphoria. But, for some, the celebrations were short-lived – the new legislation turned out to be one of the most conservative in Europe. People still travel overseas for abortions and services are not yet fully commissioned in Northern Ireland. Repealed traces the history of the origins of the Eighth Amendment, which was drawn up in fear of a tide of liberal reforms across Europe. It draws out the lessons learned from the groundbreaking campaign in 2018, which was the culmination of a 35-year-long reproductive rights movement and an inspiring example of modern grassroots activism. It tells the story of the “Repeal” campaign through the lens of the activists who are still fighting in a movement that is only just beginning.
Aidan Beatty is a historian at the Honors College of the University of Pittsburgh