Together for Yes supports Migrants Rights Groups calling for the removal of the 8th Amendment

Migrant voices and stories should be heard and considered in this debate.

Together for Yes welcomes the statement released earlier today from the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the Irish Refugee Council, Nasc, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre and Doras Luimní. “Our goal is for every pregnant woman in Ireland to receive the best possible care in Ireland, no matter what her status, with the support that she needs and the opportunity to make decisions in a compassionate healthcare setting,” says Together for Yes Co-Director Orla O’Connor. “In this endeavour, the experiences of migrants need to be considered.”

The joint statement highlights how the 8th Amendment disproportionately and negatively influences the care that migrant women receive, particularly in maternity services when their health is at risk and when abortion care is needed. For most of the women these five organisations represent, travelling is not an option.  The provision of the ‘right to travel’ in the Irish Constitution actively discriminates against women and girls who are already marginalised and vulnerable. Together for Yes hopes that the voices of these communities can be heard in conversations about the referendum.

“No one should have to travel to access basic healthcare, but beyond that, people shouldn’t be denied abortion services simply because they don’t have the means or legal documents to travel,” says Claudia Gichuchi from Migrants and Ethnic minorities for Reproductive Justice (MERJ), a Together for Yes platform group. “We only have to look to the cases of Savita Halappanavar, Ms. Y, Aisha Chithira and countless others to see how migrant women of colour fare under Ireland’s current abortion laws. The 8th Amendment puts their lives unnecessarily at greater risk.”

Several UN committees (UNHRC, CEDAW, UNCAT, ESCR) and human rights experts have condemned laws that criminalise abortion as a violation of human rights and a barrier to equality. If the people vote YES to remove the 8th Amendment on 25 May, it will be equally important for the Government to ensure that, in practice, migrant women can access the same compassionate standard of maternity and abortion care in Ireland as non-migrants’. However, the first step in making Ireland a safer place for all pregnant women is to vote YES on 25th May to repeal the 8th Amendment.

For people interested in learning more about migrant communities involved in the campaign, MERJ is hosting an event Learning from Migrants and Ethnic Minorities: Abortion and Reproductive Justice on 12 May 2018 from 1 to 3pm.

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