HRWFF Review: The 8th


Whilst many people in the UK might look on at Ireland with a little jealousy at the moment, the Emerald Isle is by no means perfect. The country is progressive in many ways but, largely due to Roman Catholicism still being the predominant religion, has been often backward in many areas of social policy. Contraception was legalised back in 1985 but in some areas of law the country has been lagging behind their neighbours. The question of abortion and ‘right to life’ has been a contentious issue for decades.

The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Act 1983 recognised equal right to life of the pregnant woman and unborn baby. Reignited by the death of Savita Halappanavar, the Abortion Rights Campaign was founded to try and repeal this law, culminating in the referendum of 2018. The 8th follows veteran pro-choice campaigner Ailbhe Smyth and social activist Andrea Horan as they campaign for change.

Speaking to people on each side of the divide, The 8th is a story about the power of grass routes campaigning in enacting social change. Aideen Kane, Maeve O’Boyle and Lucy Kennedy’s film delves deep into the debate, but it’s clear where their sympathies lie. They do a great job of illustrating the human stories behind the headlines. The 8th isn’t a film about huge, orchestrated campaigns but focuses on ordinary women fighting for their right to control their own bodies.  

The 8th screens at Human Rights Watch Film Festival London and is released in the UK on 25 May.

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