Many female survivors of sexual violence talk to us about how difficult all matter to do with their fertility, sexual and reproductive health are for them because of their experience of rape. This can be a lifelong struggle for women following the trauma of sexual violence. Making this bearable for survivor’s starts by ensuring that everything that happens to their bodies is with their informed and full consent.
In Rape Crisis we believe everyone has a role in supporting survivors to restore their sense that they matter and that their yes matters. But the 8th amendment says the opposite. It says that a woman’s consent about what happens to her body is conditional.
The hard cases of the approximately 5% of fertile aged girls and women who are pregnant after rape are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the impact of the 8th on survivors and all women and girls.
The truth is the 8th amendment, whether a survivor of rape is pregnant or not, whether they choose to terminate or continue with the pregnancy, codifies a culture of disregarding women’s consent over their bodies. Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) are calling for a Yes vote, not only to ensure those pregnant after rape can be supported at home and without stigma, but also so that our Constitution unambiguously upholds the dignity and rights of women, many of whom will be survivors of sexual violence.
Dr Clíona Saidléar
RCNI Executive Director