Luke Silke, 19, is a writer and historian from Co. Galway
“As a man I am often told my opinion is not welcome in this debate. An experience I had as a child shaped my views on the abortion issue and I don’t think it is fair when people attempt to silence my voice, and the voices of other men. It is important that nobody is denied the right to speak on this issue in the weeks ahead.
“When I was nine years old my mother had a miscarriage. I remember a little coffin, I remember flowers, I remember a ceremony, I remember a grave. I remember visitors calling to the house to comfort my mother during that time.
“When I later became aware of the reality of abortion, I began to ask questions. The loss and grief I felt for my unborn sibling proved to me that the child in the womb is undeniably a human being. I learned at a young age that a tiny unborn life can make a big impact.
“As a society we need to ensure that every human life is loved and protected, especially at its most vulnerable and defenceless stage. Some babies are unplanned. Some babies are ill. Are these jusitfiable grounds to end a child’s life?
“The Eighth Amendment is a very important piece of legislation. It was passed by referendum in 1983 by a two-thirds majority. It is a unique constitutional provision that grants equal legal protection to the lives of pregnant women and unborn babies.
“The Irish Constitution, with the Eighth Amendment, recognises the universal human right to life. Without it, all of our other rights are baseless. It is the reason there are tens of thousands of people alive and in our country today. Perhaps some of those reading this are alive today thanks to the Eighth Amendment.”