The Facebook referendum

Erin believes if Irish people only realised the suffering the abortion ban inflicts on people, they would vote to repeal it.

You might know Erin as In Her Shoes, the Facebook page that has gained a following of 90,000 since she started posting crowd-sourced stories of abortion earlier this year. The page has made stories of tragedy go viral. Stories of rape. Stories of happily expected babies given a fatal diagnosis. Stories of secrecy and shame.

She got the idea for the page after canvassing for abortion access in the West of Ireland. An encounter with an elderly man who was against abortion but ready to hear an argument for cases of rape or incest convinced her that the only thing preventing a repeal of the Republic of Ireland’s near-total abortion ban was silence. She decided to break it.

“It was really important to me to be involved in this campaign to find somebody who will vote for me, and vote for the future of my daughters,” Erin told me, who is originally from the United States, but has lived in Ireland for 12 years after marrying an Irishman.

Erin spoke to me for the latest episode of The Irish Passport podcast, in which we dig into the murky social media tactics that have seen Facebook and Google slap advertising bans down ahead of the May 25 vote.

 

The episode also features a Facebook activist on the other side of the debate: Mitch Peace. Peace is 23, he works in a bank, and in his spare time he runs the ‘Fact of the Day’ page that shares pro-life memes with an alt-right tinge. Interestingly, Mitch is also from the United States originally, but became a naturalised Irish citizen last year.

Two people with two completely opposed viewpoints, but both see themselves as fighting for the lives of the vulnerable. Their stories underline the deep, possibly irreconcilable, divisions exposed by the abortion referendum campaign.

You can listen to the episode online here.

Irish journalist writing for @PoliticoEurope. Try my politics/history/culture podcast @PassportIrish.