Pro-choice activists and trade unionists must organise for the biggest possible mobilisation of people on the streets ahead of any vote on decriminalisation. We must seek solidarity from the labour movement in Britain. Politicians should be left in no doubt that, if our rights continue to be denied, they will face a campaign of civil disobedience that will make the law unworkable. The Socialist Party supports full decriminalisation of abortion but we must go further to ensure abortions are free, safe, legal and accessible here in Northern Ireland on the NHS.
Tag: Abortion Rights
25th May was a momentous and historic day – two thirds of voters in the South voted to repeal the anti-choice eighth amendment from the constitution, demanding the right of women and pregnant people to access abortion services. Unsurprisingly, it was women, young and LGBT+ people and working-class communities that were to the fore in this revolt. The result was a body blow to the Catholic Church’s domination of Irish society which, in living memory, led to such horrors as the imprisonment of women in Magdalene laundries and state-sanctioned abduction of children from unmarried mothers.
On 25 May, Irish citizens voted decisively to repeal the 8th Amendment, a resounding rejection of the abortion ban and misogynistic ideas about women and our bodies. The Yes vote won a landslide 66% and in all but one county. The significance of this victory over decades of anti-choice misogyny and repressive Church control cannot be understated.
No delay can now be justified. There is nothing to stop the Dail [Irish parliament] to move quickly to enact legislation to give effect to the proposals from the Oireachtas Committee. No more people should suffer.
If a movement is built on clear, cross-community basis, all the political parties and Westminster can come under pressure to act on this issue and the right to choose can be won.
None of the main parties support a woman’s right to choose. The DUP and SDLP are entirely opposed to any reform, as are the majority of UUP MLAs. Sinn Féin and most Alliance MLAs oppose abortion rights outside the narrow circumstances of sexual crime and fatal foetal abnormality.
For the first time in Ireland, a forum where members of the public were given control has recommended abortion on request in the first trimester, when 85% of abortions occur, even for socio-economic reasons. This speaks volumes about how fundamentally societal attitudes have progressed.
Another abortion rights case is currently on its way to the European Court of Human Rights. This case aims to challenge the decision by Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to deny women from Northern Ireland free access to abortions under the NHS in England.