"Irish women recognized the importance of telling their abortion stories, and hundreds put themselves in the firing line of hateful and misogynistic abuse to further the Repeal the 8th campaign. What was previously unspoken was starting to be discussed openly. We talked and talked and talked, and this is what ultimately made the difference."
Eimear Sparks is a sexual and reproductive health and rights advocate and Program Advisor to the Movement Accelerator Program at the International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network. She is a former 25x25 young leaders for the SheDecides network and has experience campaigning for abortion rights including during the Repeal the 8th campaign in Ireland and with Women on Waves during their Mexico campaign in 2017. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in European studies and a master’s in Inequalities and Social Sciences.
In a sparkling and thoughtful essay, the Irish youth activist Eimear Sparks writes about the personal journey she took, through her involvement in the “Repeal the 8th Amendment” campaign in Ireland: not only the way that “people power” could change the law in a system like Ireland’s, but how, in the process, she found herself speaking for the first time about having been sexually violated: “This experience had motivated my involvement in the campaign and this itself was an act of self-revelation. Until this moment, I had not considered that my rage over denial of women’s agency had blended with suppressed anger for the agency that had been taken from me.” She was one of many who “began to see ourselves in the stories of injustice and denial that other women told about abortion.” Now at the International Planned Parenthood Foundation, supporting abortion rights in other countries , she has learned “that progress in reproductive rights is not linear, or irreversible. Laws that enshrine reproductive rights for women can find themselves at the mercy of sharp political shifts to the right.” She cites the international abortion rights campaigner, Marge Berer: “Breakthroughs in legal reform are invariably not the end of the struggle."