'Pro-life campaigners' planted thousands of white crosses overnight. This woman had other plans

Mimi Launder
Friday 18 May 2018 09:15
news

More than 17,000 white crosses have been planted along the edge of a road in Ireland.

The crosses, placed a metre apart for around 30km along the road between Donegal and Derry, are thought to have been left by the No campaign ahead of the country going to the polls for the abortion referendum on Friday 25 May.

No pro-life campaign person or group have taken responsibility for the stunt. But a tweet from a local pro-life campaigner said the crosses are to “represent the lives that will be taken per year in Ireland if there is a yes vote".

But writer and fashion activist Taryn De Vere was having none of it, writing on the crosses the names of women who have tragically died as a result of being unable to access an abortion.

The names Taryn wrote on the crosses include Savita Halappanavar, who died in 2012 due to the complications of a septic miscarriage. She requested an abortion, but the medical team did not judge her life to be in danger.

Likewise, mother-of-one Michelle Harte might be alive today if not for the eighth amendment. She was undergoing a new treatment for cancer and in remission when she learned she was pregnant. But after being denied a termination in 2010, she was forced to give up the treatment as clinical practice requires pregnant women do not take part in drug trials. She died in 2011.

And 15-year-old school girl Ann Lovett died after giving birth to a stillborn son beside a grotto of the Virgin Mary in 1984. Decades later, the repercussions of her death are still resonating in Irish society.

These names are just a glimpse at the suffering brought by the eighth amendment. Taryn told indy100 that fury motivated her to pay tribute to these women's stories:

I knew whoever put it there wanted us to think of baby's graves. 

I was so angered that they were trying to promote the idea that the women of Ireland cannot be trusted with our own bodies. 

As if we will be slaughtering loads of babies if the 8th is repealed - the No campaign has repeated used medically incorrect terminology in an effort to portray a zygote, blastocyst or fetus as a born child. It's sly and dishonest. 

The majority of abortions happen before 10 weeks when it is a tiny blastocyst but that is not the image they portray. 

On my way home from Derry I could feel my anger rising, I could see there were hundreds more crosses and I thought of the time and labour that the people who erected had put into it and I felt so angry that these people were putting so much effort into suppressing my rights and the rights of anyone with a uterus in Ireland.

She added that she wanted to reclaim the statement and revealed that it's "terrifying to be a woman in Ireland right now".

I just felt so angry and sad that our lives mean so little to whoever erected the crosses. 

I wanted to do something to reclaim the statement, I wrote the names of some of the women who are dead because of the 8th on the crosses so that people will see the crosses and think of the real women who have pad the price of the 8th.

Many more have been harmed. if I knew the names of the 170,000+ women who have had to travel abroad or the thousands who use abortion pills at home I would love to write their names on those crosses - all those experiences are invisible to the No campaigners. 

They have done their best to erase women from the campaign, they don't want to hear the millions of messy, complicated reasons why women need an abortion. 

The Yes campaign in Co Donegal have said they wish they had the money and time to carry out such a publicity stunt.

Spokesperson for Donegal Together for Yes Sinead Stewart told BreakingNews.ie:

I think they are absolutely brushing over the pain and the suffering of the women and families of Donegal by doing something like this.

In the referendum, voters will be asked if they want to repeal the eight amendment of the country's constitution, which effectively bans abortions by recognising the equal right to life of both mother and unborn child.

If the amendment is repealed, it will allow for the Irish government to legislate on abortion, most likely up to 12 weeks.

More: Anti-abortion advert in Ireland suggests women are a threat to children

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