The X-ile Project: Helping Make The Case For Abortion In Ireland

Around 12 women per day leave Ireland to access abortion services in Britain

March for Choice, Dublin, Ireland
March for Choice, Dublin, Ireland
(Image credit: REX)

Around 12 women per day leave Ireland to access abortion services in Britain

Let's take a moment to feel immense gratitude for the fact that we live in a country where women are not denied the right to make their own health decisions.

America’s 50-year-long war on abortion is chilling. Pro-choice campaigners remain locked in a battle to give women across all states access to quality reproductive healthcare (abortions included). Their recent struggles have been making international headlines as the 2016 presidential campaign rolls on and the inequalities women still face are spotlit. Thought leaders and tastemakers - Hillary Clinton, Lena Dunham, Elizabeth Banks, Scarlett Johannsson and Julianne Moore, included – have all spoken out in support of Planned Parenthood (America’s nonprofit reproductive health service provider).

But it’s not just thousands of miles away that women are being denied the freedom to chose how they manage their reproductive healthcare. In Ireland women’s bodies are strictly policed too.

Abortion is illegal in Ireland unless the pregnancy presents a real and substantial risk to the mother’s life (risk of suicide is included). The 8th amendment states that an embryo or foetus has equal right to life as a pregnant woman – therefore criminalising abortion.

A powerful new volunteer project, X-ile, is committed to getting this amendment (that infringes on the human rights of women in Ireland) repealed. Spearheaded by pro-choice campaigners from Ireland, one of the ways they believe this retraction can be accelerated is by de-stigmatising abortion.

To wit, the five founding female members of the X-ile project are publishing an online gallery featuring portraits of some of the women and trans-men who have accessed abortion services outside of Ireland and agreed to make their faces public. It's moving and impactful.

Katie O’Neill, an artist, musician and feminist activist from Dublin, took the photographs of the first 11 women whose portraits have launched the gallery. O’Neill told the Guardian:

‘On average over 12 women per day leave Ireland to access basic procedures in Britain that they should be able to have at home.

‘What we are trying do with this project is to force the Irish public and the government to look at these women that they are exiling out of the country and to see that these women are their sisters, their mothers, their partners and people that they see every day in the street.

‘Everyone knows someone who has travelled over to England and we want to put a face to those stories,’ said O'Neill.

The project also wants to advocate for women who can’t leave the country for various reasons (money, disability, personal circumstances). The law discriminates against those vulnerable groups most harshly – currently abortions are predominantly for the rich (women who can afford travel to the UK along with the cost of the procedure, which the NHS does not cover).

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