Urban v rural: can cities protect reproductive rights?

The run-up to Ireland’s abortion vote has revealed a divide already at the fore in the US, Italy and Poland – where urban policy-makers are standing up against state conservatism

A lone woman scales a brick building, turning to look at a number 8 chained to her ankle, hampering her progress. The animation appeared this month, projected on to Dublin’s Treasury building, and images quickly spread on social media under the hashtag #TheWeightOfTheEighth. It was a striking symbol of a debate that has engulfed Ireland in recent months, playing out on the walls and streets of its cities.

On 25 May, Ireland will vote on whether to repeal the eighth amendment to its constitution – a clause that protects the right to life of the unborn – and clear a path to legalising abortion in the country. The question challenges the Irish state’s conservative, patriarchal foundations, from which many people in Ireland – its urban dwellers in particular – feel increasingly disconnected.

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