Archiving Reproductive Health
On 25th May 2018, Irish citizens voted to remove the controversial '8th Amendment' to the Irish Constitution, opening the way for the introduction of legislation governing the termination of pregnancy in the State.
The lead-up to the referendum included a number of campaigns from grassroots organisations and volunteers, and took place primarily over social media. In particular, a number of initiatives emerged whose aim was to tell stories of personal experiences of abortion. These initiatives collected and published stories from ordinary women, giving a voice to a previously silent group, and developing a public capacity to empathise with their experiences.
'Digital Preservation of Reproductive Health Resources: Archiving the 8th' (Archiving Reproductive Health) intends to provide long-term preservation and access to the many at-risk archives generated by grassroots women’s reproductive health movements during the campaign. There is no consensus on the best practice for archiving social media posts, hosted as they are on a variety of platforms each with their own rules about exporting and reposting content elsewhere. The rich record of how this referendum campaign unfolded, and of how volunteers and community groups contributed to the national conversation, is at real risk, therefore, of being lost to us forever as social media accounts close, platforms change or go out of business or we simply lose track of where the information exists.
The Archiving Reproductive Health project aims to:
- Ingest material from the six collaborating organisations for long term preservation in the DRI
- Develop best practice for archiving social media
- Create a registry of at-risk reproductive health archives and support further ingest to the DRI
- Carry out social science research into best practice, ethics and legalities of archiving this material
- Provide training and expertise to reproductive health archives in archival best practice
- Collect and preserve additional material on the topic from the public
The project is funded by a grant of €383,481.00 from the Wellcome Trust and is running over 36 months from 1st January 2021. It is led by Trinity College Dublin, Maynooth University and the Royal Irish Academy in collaboration with a number of additional content partners.
Project Partners and Organisational Data Sets
- Irish Qualitative Data Archive (IQDA)
- Together For Yes
- The Abortion Rights Campaign
- The Coalition To Repeal the Eighth Amendment
- Terminations for Medical Reasons (TMFR)
- In Her Shoes: Women of the Eighth
Research Data Sets
- Re(al) Productive Justice Project http://realproductivejustice.com
- Physician Advocacy and Reproductive Rights in Ireland (Researcher Sadie Bergen)
- What Works: Sharing Best Practices in how Civil Society Organisations use the Internet in Organising and Building for Socio-Economic Rights and Trust”
On March 8th, 2022, ARH published a series of pilot collections, showcasing work from our stakeholder organisations and research datasets.
A walk-through and guide to the collections, presented by Digital Archivist Clare Lanigan, can be viewed in this video of the launch event.
These collections will be extended and augmented in the coming months, in order to catalogue and preserve part of the story of these organisations and their role in reproductive justice activism in Ireland. ARH will also be collecting and preserving digital material from other organisations that have campaigned on this issue in Ireland. Organisations with relevant digital material are invited to contact ARH Digital Archivist Clare Lanigan at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Irish Qualitative Data Archive at email@example.com
Summary of Pilot Collections
Abortion Rights Campaign - Marches for Choice
This collection covers three of the Marches for Choice organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign, an all-Ireland campaign for free, safe and legal abortion in Ireland, founded in 2013. ARC was one of the three organisations that made up Together for Yes, the national campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment in 2018. The collection includes photographs and videos from the Marches for Choice held in 2016, 2017 and 2018, as well as design assets such as posters, flyers and leaflets. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7486/DRI.m9012j507.
Together for Yes - Publicity Materials
This collection contains public-facing material such as posters, logos and flyers created by Together for Yes, the national campaign for a Yes vote in the campaign to repeal the Eighth in 2018. Together for Yes was made up of representatives of three organisations, ARC, the National Women's Council and the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth. The graphic design of the publicity material was designed by Language Communications. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7486/DRI.nv93js94h.
Coalition to Repeal the Eighth - Publicity Materials
The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth is a broad umbrella organisation intended to bring together a wide range of civil society organisations that supported the repeal of the Eighth Amendment. The Coalition was one of the three organisations that made up Together for Yes. The collection includes publicity materials such as logos, images of merchandise and posters for public events hosted by the Coalition in the period 2015-2018. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7486/DRI.nz80kp78c.
Terminations for Medical Reasons - Publicity Materials
Terminations for Medical Reasons is an organisation that supports women, parents and families following diagnosis of a foetal anomaly, help destigmatise termination of pregnancy & campaign for legal change. TFMR are a member of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth and played a crucial role in the 2018 referendum. The collection includes publicity materials such as online banners, logos and press releases from the period 2015-2018. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7486/DRI.ns06hx10g.
In Her Shoes: Women of the Eighth - Facebook posts
This collection contains links to a Facebook page where women shared their experiences of being refused healthcare, barriers to access, the experiences of travel for healthcare abroad, illegally ordering pills online, and the emotional impact of these experiences. As a resource, it shares women’s stories and allows us to learn from them as a society. The stories captured the reality for many women living under the Eighth Amendment and offered an insight into the difficulties surrounding the illegality of abortion. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7486/DRI.wm11nd02p.
Posters and City Streets: The Linguistic Landscape of the Eighth Amendment Referendum Campaign - Photos
This is a visual collection containing 432 images of signage from the 2018 referendum on whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment. It was collected during the week before the vote itself (May 2018) and includes images of campaign posters, graffiti, stickers and banners from a number of locations across the country. These images were taken by Louis Strange as part of his PhD research into the “linguistic landscape” of the 2018 referendum campaign, which looks at the use of language in public space in the lead-up to the vote. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7486/DRI.ww72r301c.
Physician Advocacy and Reproductive Rights in Ireland: Doctors for Choice - Oral history interviews
This collection is comprised of oral history interviews conducted in 2019 by Sadie Bergen, a doctoral candidate in an interdisciplinary social science and public health program. The interviews are with current and former committee members of Doctors for Choice, an Irish pro-choice physician advocacy group. Physicians discuss how they became involved in reproductive rights advocacy; their impressions of the role of physicians in Irish abortion politics; their knowledge of Doctors for Choice’s changing strategies or priorities; and their subjective understanding of physician advocacy. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7486/DRI.z3173r875-1.
Re(al) Productive Justice Project: Gender and Disabilities - Oral history interviews
Re(al) Productive Justice Project: Gender and Disabilities is a disability rights and reproductive justice project based in NUI Galway. Disabled people are often denied the right to make reproductive decisions, including decisions about fertility, contraception, pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. This project explores the legal regulation and the real life experiences of disabled people in Ireland in making reproductive decisions by inviting disabled people to tell their stories of making, or being denied the opportunity to make, reproductive choices for themselves. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7486/DRI.ws85q6171.
RetweetThe8th: Twitter dataset from the 2018 Referendum
This dataset was created by researcher Emmet Ó Bríain of Quiddity.ie and contains the tweet ids of 2,108,782 tweets related to the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment in 2018. They were collected between March 9th, 2018 and May 30th, 2018 from the Twitter filter stream API using Twarc. A number of hashtags used by campaigners on both sides of the referendum were used to filter the searches.
An Ethics Protocol for the project has been developed to ensure the quality and integrity of our research and archiving processes, to outline the ethical issues which arise from the project, and to ensure transparency in the project. The Ethics Protocol can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.7486/DRI.6t05h703d.
A Self-Care Protocol for Researchers has been developed by Dr Lorraine Grimes, the primary researcher on this project. The Self-Care Protocol includes practicalities for working with sensitive or traumatic data. It focuses on the potential to harm the researcher when working with sensitive data on reproductive health. Researchers working with collections within this project are encouraged to develop their own Self-Care protocols. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7486/DRI.7079k0713.
Postdoctoral Researcher and Digital Archivist Lorraine Grimes has also developed a bibliography of sources in the area of research ethics, and working with sensitive and potentially traumatic research in the field of arts, humanities, and social sciences. This bibliography can be accessed on Zotero at this link.
The Archiving the 8th project, which ran in University College Dublin in 2020 and 2021, created an interactive Zotero library that comprises a comprehensive list of academic articles associated with the lifespan of the Eighth Amendment. This bibliography can be accessed on Zotero at this link and new contributions are welcomed.
The project's Data Management Plan is available via DMPOnline.
Stakeholder Advisory Forum
This forum consists of representatives of each of the organisations whose data will be collected and ingested to DRI. The aim of the forum is for us to get feedback from stakeholders about the ARH project and the digital collections we are creating. We want to ensure that we are collecting and archiving this material in the best way possible, and we feel that people involved with the organisations whose material we are archiving, either as volunteers or as researchers, are best placed to give us this feedback.
Over the course of the project we will hold three Stakeholder Advisory Forum meetings, in order to get essential feedback and advice on the progress of the ingested collections.
Stakeholder Advisory Forum Members
|Claire Brophy||Volunteer, Abortion Rights Campaign and digital humanities scholar|
|Mary McAuliffe||Director of Gender Studies at University College Dublin|
|Sinead Kennedy||Coalition to Repeal the Eighth & Senior University Tutor, Maynooth University.|
|Camilla Fitzsimons||Volunteer, Abortion Rights Campaign & Lecturer, Maynooth University|
|Heike Felzmann||Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, National University of Ireland, Galway|
|Jenny Dagg||Postdoctoral researcher, Re(al)productive Justice: Gender and Disability, NUI Galway|
|Mary Favier||GP and member of Doctors for Choice|
|Gráinne Griffin||Co-director, Together for Yes|
|Erin Darcy||Administrator, In Her Shoes: Women of the Eighth|
|Mandy Lee||Assistant Professor, Centre for Health Policy and Management, Trinity College Dublin|
|Mary Lalor||Moderator, In Her Shoes|
Statement on Archiving In Her Shoes collection
The popular Facebook page "In Her Shoes" is being preserved and archived by the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) as part of the ‘Digital Preservation of Health Resources: Archiving Reproductive Health’ (Archiving Reproductive Health) project.
You can see an example of what this collection will look like here: https://doi.org/10.7486/DRI.wm11nd02p
If you have submitted a personal story that was published on the In Her Shoes Facebook page, it will form part of this collection.
This means that posts on this page from January 2018 to June 2018 and beyond, will be preserved for the long term within the DRI repository.
Access to the majority of individual abortion stories will be restricted to people engaged in teaching and research, with access provided on a case by case basis following requests. These posts can only be used for educational purposes. (A small number of writers have given permission for their stories to be made immediately available to the general public).
Those engaged in research will be able to access the contents of the Facebook page for years to come.
This restriction is required by current legislation. Changes to this legislation may allow us to make these posts more widely available in the future. The expiration of Copyright and GDPR restrictions will allow the collection to be made available in the long term future.
Individual stories will also be made available through a publicly accessible link from the collection on DRI to the Facebook page. However, it is likely that these links will disappear over time.
Each post will be catalogued using descriptive terms which will help researchers to find and cross-reference material.
The In Her Shoes Facebook page does not contain any links to personal Facebook accounts. We are not archiving the comments/likes on each of the posts.
Why are we doing this?
The In Her Shoes Facebook page was instrumental in changing voters’ minds in the run up to the referendum; therefore, we believe it is of historical value.
Content on Facebook is at risk of future loss; archiving will allow for the contents of this page to be preserved long-term.
By archiving the contents of the page, this will make way for further research in the areas of women’s reproductive health, human rights, law, social science and many other fields.
The page will also be of interest to those who advocate in the area of reproductive health, to help change public opinion in relation to abortion, and de-stigmatise abortion.
Policy advisors may also be interested in qualitative research in this area, possibly influencing policy change.
The preservation of these collections add significantly to our understanding of women's rights movements and access to reproductive healthcare in Ireland.
What do I need to do?
You do not need to do anything.
However, if you contributed your story to the In Her Shoes Facebook page and have any concerns or questions, you can email the Irish Qualitative Data Archive, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.