'We were regularly called murderers. It was a time in Ireland when the Catholic church reigned supreme.'

Catherine Forde, Irish Family Planning Association, abortion rights Ireland, repeal the 8th amendment

Abortion and the referendum in Ireland

Catherine Forde, Activist, barrister and former board member of the IFPA

I first got involved during the 1982 campaign to insert the 8th Amendment (that the fetus has a right to life equal right to life of the mother into the Irish Constitution). No matter what one's opinion was on abortion, putting such a clause into our constitution showed complete and utter disrespect for women.

It was clear to me this clause would give rise to legal difficulties and put women's lives in danger. I just thought this is unfair. This is wrong. It was a very bitter horrible campaign. We were threatened and intimidated when we canvassed on the streets. We were regularly called murderers. It was a time in Ireland when the Catholic church reigned supreme, and they reckoned they could say what they like and do what they liked.

I, and a friend, formed a women's health group where we tried to do something about improving women's access to contraception because at that time even access to contraception was extremely limited. Then in 1984 I was asked to join the board of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA).