In Depth

Why Irish women are tweeting the prime minister about periods

Enda Kenny swamped with messages about menstrual cycles as women fight to #appealthe8th

Women in Ireland have been tweeting Prime Minister Enda Kenny details about their periods in a protest against the country's restrictive abortion laws.

The Twitter campaign was launched by comedian Grainne Maguire and aims to repeal the eighth amendment of the Irish constitution which criminalises abortion.

Maguire argues that it is only fair to share such details with the prime minister as "we know how much the Irish state cares about our reproductive parts".

#RepealThe8th has been trending on Twitter ever since, with thousands of women joining in to express their anger.

Ireland has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, according to Amnesty International.

The eighth amendment equates the right to life of a pregnant woman with that of a foetus. In doing so it criminalises abortion in all cases except where a continued pregnancy would result in death.

"The human rights of women are violated on a daily basis because of a constitution that treats them like child-bearing vessels," said Amnesty's secretary general, Salil Shetty.

The single-exception rule was only brought in after the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012. She died of blood poisoning after doctors at a Galway hospital refused to give her an abortion after she began to miscarry.

Women face a 14-year prison sentence for having an abortion – even on the grounds of rape or incest – forcing thousands to leave Ireland each year to have an abortion in another country.

Pro-choice groups are seeking to overturn the eight amendments, which can only be done via a referendum. They argue that the legislation no longer reflects public opinion in Ireland.

But Prime Minister Kenny has said he will not commit his Fine Gael party to a referendum on the issue, The Guardian reports.

"I do not favour abortion on demand and I have no intention of abolishing the eighth amendment without considering what it might be that might replace it," he said recently.

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