Socialist Worker

In Ireland movement grows for a referendum on abortion rights

by Eleanor Claxton-Mayer
Issue No. 2541

Last year in September there were protests and calls for making abortion legal in Ireland. Since then the movement has grown and is willing to fight more than ever

Last year in September there were protests and calls for making abortion legal in Ireland. Since then the movement has grown and is willing to fight more than ever (Pic: Twitter @Strike4Repeal)


The fight for women to win the right to choose is gearing up in Ireland.

The 8th Amendment was established in Ireland in 1983. It says a foetus’ life is equal to a woman’s, making abortions illegal.

On 8 March—International Women’s Day—a women’s strike has been called by Strike 4 Repeal to demand a referendum on a woman’s right to choose.

The strike has been partly inspired by the “Black Monday” protests in Poland last year, which blocked the government’s latest attack on abortion rights.

Aoife from Strike 4 Repeal said, “The protests in Poland was probably the biggest inspiration to take direct action.”

“It feels like a good time to be organising, people are very receptive.”

People Before Profit TD (MP) Brid Smith told Socialist Worker, “Strike 4 Repeal is a phenomena that has taken off because of the fight in Poland.

“It also comes off of the back of the campaign for same sex marriage.

“A lot of the tactics and the energy is similar. There is a sense of fightback in the air.”

Abortions are only legal in Ireland to save a woman’s life.

Deaths

But the 8th Amendment has resulted in the deaths of women. The Irish state’s list of shame is a long one. In 2012 Savita Halappanavar died after being denied an abortion that would have saved her life.

In 1992 the state detained a 14 year old rape victim known as Ms. X to prevent her travelling to Britain for an abortion.

Women face a 14-year prison sentence for obtaining an abortion in Ireland, but many order the abortion pill illegally anyway. At least ten women travel to Britain every day to access abortions.

Even in cases where the baby will not survive outside the womb abortions are still not permitted.

The illegality of abortion disproportionately effects working class women.

The cost of travel and the time taken out of work causes more trauma and stress for women who should have safe access in Ireland.

But resistance is growing and forcing the state institutions to act. In 2015 the High Court held that the near-blanket ban on abortions breaches human rights legislation.

Strike

Strike 4 Repeal spokesperson Claire Brophy said, “We’ve been overwhelmed and heartened by the support for the strike so far, in particular from students, and from regional and rural groups.

“The enthusiasm around the country has shown us the appetite for action from the government on this issue.

“People want a referendum on the 8th Amendment.”

Making abortion illegal does not keep women safe and does not reduce abortions. It puts women at risk because of lack of access to safe procedures.

The government in Ireland has attempted to push a referendum on the issue back by at least a year—claiming that it is not possible to hold it until 2018 at the earliest.

A woman has the right to control her own body.

Socialist Worker stands in solidarity with those fighting for that right.

 


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