This December marks two years since X-Ile Project launched our website with the first group of 11 photographs. Over the past two years, we have increased our gallery to 50 photographs and been privileged to work with talented photographers and diverse participants around the country. The women we have met have genuinely inspired us. We are heartened that our amazing participants have contributed to the change in conversations on abortion in Ireland and Northern Ireland that has taken place over the past two years. Through our work, we have seen how hashtags such as #facethe50 and #justinformleo have shifted conversations on abortion among members of the public and politicians.
For many campaigners, activists and organisations involved in the repeal the 8th campaign, 13 December was a momentous day. The Oireachteas Committee’s 14 to 6 vote that the 8th amendment be repealed, not replaced, reflects the profound change in attitudes to abortion that has taken in place in Ireland over the past several years. The progression towards a more empathetic and informed understanding of abortion as crucial reproductive healthcare is a result of the sustained work of member organisations of the Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment, amongst which X-Ile Project is proud to count itself.
The Oireachtas Committee’s vote is encouraging. It is evidence that, when properly informed with facts, people can arrive at a compassionate understanding of abortion as one of the many choices a pregnant person makes throughout their life. As it seems increasingly likely that a referendum on the 8th amendment will be held in May or June 2018, repeal the 8th activists approach the end of 2017 with a sense of accomplishment, but also of increased motivation and preparedness for the hard work that lies ahead. As a referendum draws nearer, it is vital to emphasise the need for free, safe and legal abortion access for all who require it, including people who face financial barriers, those with disabilities and those with migrant status.
We believe that campaigns which focus on the testimonies, experiences, and faces of those who have had abortions contribute to powerful shifts in conversations on abortion. As Ireland prepares to vote to repeal the 8th amendment, X-ile Project will continue to give a much-needed face to those who have been effectively exiled by Ireland’s abortion laws and will continue to provide a space and community that strengthens links between those who have travelled for abortion services.