Women have started tweeting details of their menstrual cycle to the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, as a protest to the country’s strict abortion laws. Irish comedian Grainne Maguire started the campaign by tweeting: “Women of Ireland! Your vagina is their business! Tweet @EndaKennyTD your menstrual cycle #repealthe8th.” It's quickly gone viral with hundreds of women following her call to action.
The campaign dubbed #repealthe8th aims to overturn the eighth amendment to the Republic of Ireland constitution, that affords equal rights to a mother and the foetus thus criminalising abortion unless the woman's life is determinded to be at risk. However, the definition of risk is vague. In 2012, Savita Halappanavar died in an Irish hospital from blood poisioning after a miscarriage. An inquest into her death was told that an abortion would have saved her life, but it was not legal to perform one. According to statistics published by the UK Department of Health, a total of 3,735 Irish residents travelled to England or Wales in 2014 for abortions.
Writing in The Guardian, Maguire explained why she decided to start the campaign; 'If they want to control my body, if they feel so comfortable interfering in what happens inside it, they should at least have all the details.'
She also tweeted:
Since then hundreds of women have followed her lead leading to worldwide media coverage, althought interestingly there is yet to be any coverage on the campagin by the Irish state broadcastor RTÉ.
Ireland was criticised in an Amnesty International report earlier this year which said that pregnant women risked putting their health and lives in danger if they remain in Ireland. "The human rights of women are violated on a daily basis because of a constitution that treats them like child-bearing vessels," said Amnesty's Secretary General, Salil Shetty. "Women who need abortions are treated like criminals, stigmatised and forced to travel abroad, taking a serious toll on their mental and physical health."
The Irish Prime Minister has not responded on Twitter.