Start Ireland In Ireland, abortion, even legalized, is still taboo

In Ireland, abortion, even legalized, is still taboo


Since 1 January, abortion is legal in the Republic of Ireland. A major change but difficult to implement in this Catholic country.

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Helen is sitting on the toilet on the floor of her childhood home. Downstairs, his three brothers are having their breakfast noisily. The Christmas holidays have passed for twelve days, but already seem so far away … The tree is tidy, the „plum-pudding“, the traditional dessert, finished. As their mother always taught them, we do not let things drag on in this Irish family from Sligo, capital of this rural county in the northwest of the country. But this January morning, the weather freezes. The pregnancy test is positive. Helen will never pronounce the word „pregnant“. „It was not there. Not now, not for me, “ repeats the student in letters. Without wanting to justify it, but doing it anyway, „because we do not get rid of the culture of fear and guilt so easily“ .

The young woman suddenly feels a „vise“ around her chest, a mixture of „panic“, „shame“, and „determination“ ; the urge to „throw oneself under the wheels of a car“. In the secret of the family bathroom, she calls her boyfriend. Already, at the beginning of the week, she had warned him by text message: „I do not have my period, I’m scared. When she whispers the result to him, he answers: „In our misfortune, we are lucky. That’s why we voted. “

Read too. „Catharsis“ and „pride“: jubilation in Ireland after the broad „yes“ to the right to abortion
In fact, Helen lives at a time when, in her own words, she has become „a little simpler to be a woman in Ireland“ . Since 1 January, abortion is legal in the country of 4.8 million inhabitants. A major evolution for this society governed for centuries by an ultraconservative Catholic tradition, where the act was punishable, a few months ago, fourteen years in prison, even in case of simple assistance.

Everything changed on May 25, 2018, when 66.4% of the Irish voted in favor of repealing the eighth amendment to the Constitution, which affirmed a right to life of the unborn child „equal to that of his mother “ . This legislation, in force since 1983, pushed each year between 3,000 and 4,000 Irish women to go abroad to abort. „Traveling in England“ was the expression of use of these women pushed underground. According to estimates, one in ten Irish women had to have an illegal abortion in her lifetime.