Abortion and the referendum in Ireland
Maeve Taylor, Director of Advocacy and Communications, IFPA
We’ve brought about profound change in Ireland from a position where abortion occupied a toxic political space, where it was a divisive issue for politicians and in public discourse. We had to create a cultural shift so that rather than thinking about abortion in some abstract or ideological way we framed a conversation to help parliamentarians, civil society and the wider public understand we’re talking about a fundamental issue of women's health.
Dressing up abortion as a political issue or ideological issue can make it feel scary and keep it on the margins. But a conversation about something that should be part of a mainstream health service, having international experts talking in very measured expert ways allows people to think differently. We never took a view that we'll talk about this specific category of women because they are the most sympathetic. We resisted any of that. It was a ‘leave no one behind’ strategy of advocating for all women whatever their circumstance.
All our advocacy and communications has been about this message. This is about a woman, about a woman's decision. It’s about her health, autonomy, dignity - her fundamental rights.
You need to ensure people understand those terms. You do that by providing the story, the narrative and the language that allows those who still hold to conservative and/or Catholic views to understand that their own moral values must also mean caring for women who need abortions.