‘This isn't about abortion. There has always been abortion in Ireland. Unsafe, unregulated or the very costly trip that exports the problem abroad. This is about Irish women deserving their basic human rights’, exclaims London-based Irish-born Grace Margetson who’s art directed campaigns for Zara, Marc Jacobs and Loewe.
On Friday 25th May, Margetson, like many other women and men, will be heading to the polls in Ireland to vote in a life or death referendum. The question they will be asked, ‘Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the undermentioned Bill?’, may seem vague but could overhaul a core tenant of the country’s pro-life, religion-inflected politics. In practical terms, this means women could have the right to decide when and if they want to terminate a pregnancy.
It will ‘give us the decency to have full power over our own bodies and access to appropriate regulated healthcare’, says Margetson adding: ‘As it stands a woman who aborts her rapist's child may get more years in prison than her offender. As it stands if your child has fatal foetal abnormalities you have to carry your dead child inside you to term. As it stands if you cannot provide for a child, both emotionally and financially, the state will still force you to bare it.’ Margetson isn’t the only one who feels impassioned by the need to repeal the eighth amendment.
'This is about choice. It is a particular kind of violence to take away another person's choice,' designer Richard Malone wrote in an open letter to Vogue on the matter. Previously, in April, he staged a protest in one of Selfridges' windows on Oxford Street to draw attention to the referendum. The diaspora is with him as many Irish expats and descendants (over 2,900 on Instagram) have shared the hashtag #hometovote to persuade anyone eligible (left Ireland under 18 months ago) to head to the polls.
Visually, the movement has been represented by a Fruit of the Loom jumper decorated with the word ‘Repeal’ made by The Repeal Project. It’s been worn by celebrities and politicians and became the focal point of Margetson and photographer Andrew Nuding's photo series, which shone a light on the loneliness and silent solidarity driving the campaign. Using models picked from an open casting call, it shows the many faces and generations that vehemently want the law to change.
In a final plea, the art director told Grazia: ‘We cannot let this cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment continue. Please, if you know anyone eligible to vote in Ireland, if you have any Irish friends or relatives, please help us by having the conversation with them about voting yes this Friday.