Some of Ireland’s best-known actors and performers are calling for a yes vote in this month’s referendum to repeal the eighth amendment to Ireland’s Constitution on 25 May.
They include Saoirse Ronan, Cillian Murphy, Tom Vaughan Lawlor, Victoria Smurfit and Liam Neeson.
The creators of Father Ted and comedian and actor Ardal O’Hanlon have also called for a ‘yes’ vote.
In the most recent intervention by Irish stars the celebrated actors take turns to read a script from Together For Yes, which says:
“In Ireland today, if the woman sitting next to you is pregnant she does not have full rights over her own body.
“In Ireland today, women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies, be it a scared 15- year-old who has been sexually abused or a terrified woman who has been raped, are forced to carry the pregnancy to term.
“This must stop. In Ireland today, things can change. This is a once in a lifetime vote. Please vote yes.”
A similar campaign is being waged by anti-abortion groups who want to keep the eighth amendment.
Meanwhile official figures have revealed that since 1980 more than 170,000 women and girls travelled from Ireland to another country for abortions.
The most recent figures from the Department of Health in this country show that 190,406 abortions were reported in England and Wales in 2016 of which some 3,265 were carried out for women and girls from Ireland – or nearly 68 per cent of all non-resident abortions.
Another 724 women and girls, or 15 per cent, gave addresses from Northern Ireland.
The year before, in 2015, 3,451 women and girls gave an address in the Republic, and 833 gave an address in Northern Ireland. The vast majority of those people who gave addresses from the Republic lived in Dublin – 1,175.
Earlier this year Ireland’s Health Minister Simon Harris gave the Dail a county-by-county breakdown of how many women and girls left Irish counties to go to the UK for terminations. He said: “These are real women, such as the 36 from county Carlow who travelled to the UK for an abortion in 2016, or the 38 from Mayo, the 69 from Tipperary, the 85 from Wicklow, the 241 from Cork and the 1,175 women from Dublin.
Most Irish women were aged between 20 and 39 years of age but there were 10 girls under the age of 16 sought an abortion in the UK last year, 56 girls aged 16 or 17 and 174 women aged 18 or 19. A further 255 women aged 40 and over also had terminations.
Women from every county in the Republic travelled to the UK in 2016
Meanwhile, Helen Linehan spoke to Deborah Francis White on The Guilty Feminist Podcast this week, along with Alison Spittle about the Yes Campaign. You can listen below.