A Facebook group for Irish women to share their stories about illegally accessing abortions has been attacked by trolls.
The group In Her Shoes offers women an opportunity to speak about their experiences of Ireland’s Eighth Amendment, which prohibits terminating pregnancies unless the life of the mother is at risk.
According to the group’s administrators, pro-life activists in both the Republic of Ireland and the US attacked the women in the group, attempting to have Facebook ban the page and its members.
Some members were temporarily locked out of their accounts following the trolling, which involved giving the group one star reviews and privately messaging individual members with abusive comments.
It follows Facebook’s admission earlier this year that social media can have a damaging impact on democracy, and its acknowledgement that Russian entities used it to influence the 2016 election in the US.
Facebook was unable to immediately respond to Sky News enquiries regarding the temporary bans and the protections available for open support communities which were at risk of being targeted by trolls.
In Her Shoes states: “Every day, 12 women and girls from Ireland have an abortion. Nine women travel to the UK to access safe abortion services. At least three women risk a 14 year prison sentence to take safe, but illegal abortion pills sourced online.”
Women in the Republic of Ireland currently face 14 years in prison for terminating a pregnancy except in situations where the life of the mother is at risk.
Campaigners say even where this risk is asserted, it is still difficult to receive adequate care, citing how in 2012 a 31-year-old woman from India died in Ireland after being refused an abortion.
The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has committed to a referendum being held on 25 May to decide whether the constitutional amendment should be repealed.
Members have commented with messages of support for the women explaining their experiences.
Sarah Cullen wrote: “Heartbreaking stories that tell the truth about women’s health in Ireland today. Thank you to the brave women who have shared their experiences.”
“Thank you for creating this outlet for women to tell their story, and in turn helping us all see the reality of so many people’s experiences,” wrote Irene McDermott.
When the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland was first introduced in 1983 it passed in a referendum with more than 66% of the vote, with a turnout of 54%.