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Irish parliament blockaded by 100s after 3rd refusal in 6 months to legislate for X-case

category ireland / britain | gender | news report author Friday November 30, 2012 22:59author by andrew Report this post to the editors

Last night saw hundreds of pro-choice activists blockade the gates of the Dáil after TD's once more refused to pass X-case legislation. Twenty years after the X-case and one month after the death of Savita Halappanavar women in Ireland were told once more that the politicians had not had enough time. The political parties, in particular the Labour Party, were once more engaged in a cynical game of playing politics - a game that leaves pregnant women at continued risk in Irish hospitals.


In 1992 after similar mass protests the Supreme Court overturned an injunction that was preventing a 14 year old rape survivor from leaving the country for an abortion. It also ruled that, even under the republic's anti-women constitution, women's whose lives were threatened because of pregnancy, including if it was because an unwanted pregnancy was making them suicidal should be able to access abortions in Ireland. What should have happened then was simple, the politicians should have legislated so that doctors could be confident about when an abortion under such circumstances was legal. 

The refusal of TD's to legislate for X for the third time in 6 months, with two of those refusals happening after the death of Savita Halappanavar, illustrate the bankruptcy of electoralist politics. On two separate occasions, in 1992 and 2002, governments have held referendums, in both cases to try and overturn the requirement to legislated for X. In both cases those referendums were defeated but 20 years later, after the people 'expressed their will' in the streets and then in the ballot boxes even Labour TD's refuse to pass that legislation.

Of course we understand that what we are seeing is not a democratic system in operation but a complex political game. A game that is all about power, control and optics. Under the rules of this game so called pro-choice Labour Party members can't bring themselves to support a bill from the rival ULA or Sinn Féin. Those who have the power in this game are not the people - 20 years of failure to legislate could not provide a clearer illustration that the people's will is almost incidental to the playing of that game.  The force from the streets is now so great that it is likely Labour & Fine Gael will legislate in the next months, introducing a bill similar in formto both the ULA and Sinn Féin ones - just months later.

Media access

Also yesterday, Youth Defence held its first public protest demanding women be kept down since news of Savita's death broke. Only around a dozen adults turned up, numbers bulked out for the photo as is traditional with children. Three hours later the 4th pro-choice protest in 15 days took place. Despite it being a freezing night around 1,000 people turned out. Yet every panel discussion of Savita's death has had either a Youth Defence spokesperson on it or someone from one of the other equally marginal pressure groups of the catholic far right. Few panels have had any pro-choice spokesperson at all, instead 'balance' is supposedly created by having medical & legal experts being barracked by ideological loons endlessly repeating misleading studies, statistics and weird word formulations designed to describe black as white. Inevitably the one-sided criticism of women's choices that emerge from such a set up has an effect on public opinion even if the obvious political lunacy of the so called pro-life panel guests offset this. But it does lock us into a debate that is forever about how suicidal a women has to be and how this can be accurately measured rather than one about the rights of women.

Since the news of Savita Halappanavar's death broke it became clear that large numbers of people are furious with women's bodies being used in this political game. Thousands and thousands have poured into the streets for protests in a way that makes clear they don't really care just who has called them. The demonstrations have been organised but they have also felt raw and spontaneous. There is an atmosphere of contained fury that I remember from the X-case march but which is a long way from many routine protest and their careful choreography of whose banners go where and which politicians speak before each other.


Last night after the vote was announced the container of that fury broke for a while. The call for what was intended as a token blockade of the Dáil gates, with a banner demanding the repeal of the 8th Amendment up front, quickly turned into hundreds pressing their bodies against the gates as a human barrier. Dáil workers and Yes voting TD's were allowed to leave but when a man suspected of being a Fine Gael TD tried to do the same the crowd closed in, jostling him, and it took 5 Gardai to charge in and clear a path. On the Kildare street side the Garda expressions quickly went from finding the blockade an amusing break from routine to visible concern as to how to contain a mob of hundreds.  Soon even the foot entrance was locked down.

On the Merrion Square side a small contingent tried to blockade the gates but without the huge numbers on Kildare Street quickly received a much rougher treatment from the Garda. Photographs show people being pushed, shoved and dragged about. In both cases the TD's within must have felt something of the rage outside, a rage that at least for a while forced them to the relative safety of the Dáil bar. Later that night one No-voting Dublin 7 TD, Paschal Donohoe had the word COWARD scrawled on his constituency office.  A photo of this is in our Facebook album  Blockade of Dail after x-case abortion legislation rejected

That fury is not so much a demand for the X-case legislation - everyone recognises that this is too little too late - but rather a fury at political game playing. What those on the streets actually demand is very simple - let women decide.   Any woman who wants an abortion should be able to access one without concerns about where she will find the money or having to face a panel of experts to quiz her motivations. 

WORDS & IMAGE: Andrew Flood


“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”
― Howard Zinn

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Ireland / Britain | Gender | News Report | en

Thu 02 Apr, 00:34

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sorrymigrantx.jpg imageIreland - Migrant X refused an abortion and forced to have a C-section 22:31 Thu 21 Aug by Andrew 0 comments

This is as complete a story about what happened to 'Migrant X' that we are aware of.  Migrant X is a young migrant women who it emerged was refused an abortion by the Irish state despite apparently meeting the grounds of the X-case legislation and instead forced to carry the pregnancy and agree to a C-section.  The pregnanacy itself was the result of rape, Migrant X attempted suicide after being refused the abortion and later went on a hunger and thirst strike.  Once what had happened to her became known there were sizeable pro-choice solidarity demonstrations called across Ireland and at Irish embassies overseas.   We have been given information that the migrant woman at the centre of the current forced pregnancy was 'committed' to a psychiatric hospital following her initial request for termination. It’s already known that the initial request was made when she was 8 weeks pregnant.  It was this crucial period in which she was being held incommunicado which led directly to the Caesarian option being possible to impose as an ‘alternative’ to allowing her to access the abortion she had asked for.

ivoteprolife.jpg imagePoor turnout in Ireland for Vigil for 'Life' despite massive spending 03:18 Wed 23 Jan by andrew 0 comments

Saturday in Dublin saw another desperate attempt by the anti-choice coalition to prevent legislation coming to the Dail (Irish parliament) to allow abortion where a women's life is under threat. Despite months of preparation, a spend that must have ran close to a million euro, and the parish priest at every mass in the country telling catholics they should attend, less that 15,000 turned up. Compared to the 150,000 women who have had to travel to obtain abortions in the last ecades this amounts to almost nothing, a handful of bigots bussed in from all over the country. [Italiano]

choice12womenday.jpg image20 years on X case to finally be legislated 17:40 Wed 19 Dec by Andrew Flood 0 comments

This afternoon the government had finally confirmed that it is to legislate for abortion access under the conditions of the X-case. While we can welcome the failure of the anti-choice movement to stop this announcement, despite frantically spending a quarter of a million dollars euro in ten days, this is so little so late that it is almost meaningless.

textCountering the Irish "Pro-Life" Rally - Pro-Choice Counter Demonstration 20:50 Thu 07 Jul by Cian Lynch 0 comments

WSM and other pro-choice activists took place in a counter demonstration to the “Rally for Life” which took place in Dublin on Sunday 3 July 2011. The anti-abortion rally was organised by Youth Defence (including “The Life Institute”(previously Mother & Campaign – an outgrowth of Youth Defense) and Belfast Based "Precious Life". Approximately 2,000 people seem to have attended. The pro-choice counter demonstration, organised at short notice was still attended by around 300 people. Many attending the anti-abortion rally came from all over Ireland and even included a small group of migrants from the Philippines. There were some tense exchanges between pro-choice campaigners and anti-abortion marchers.

40perweekleaveforabortion.jpg imageNI Women sold out by Labour on equal access to abortion 21:22 Tue 02 Dec by Eve Campbell 0 comments

The hopes of women living in Northen Ireland for the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act were dashed when an amendment to extend the act brought before Westminster on 22nd October was not debated because of a procedural motion put by Harriet Harman, leader of the House of Commons and the Minister for Women and supported by many New Labour ‘feminist’ MPs

The Rogue Agency Displays its True Colours (after the demo they take their anti-choice banners down) imageShut Down Rogue Pregnancy Counselling Agency 00:48 Mon 23 Apr by pro-choice activist 0 comments

Advertised as a pregnancy counselling agency, it subjects women in crisis
pregnancies to psychological manipulation, misleading and deliberately lying
about pregnancy and abortion services to prevent women from travelling for
abortion services. The lies they tell clients are designed to force women to
feel guilt and shame for even considering abortion as an option.

Answering difficult questions early on a Saturday morning imageTalking about Sexual Violence 20:00 Thu 14 Sep by Sovietpop and others 0 comments

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textInternational Women's Day 20:16 Fri 27 May by Tobie 0 comments

This action was inspired by national women's days in the States during the women's suffrage and trade union movement that had been organised by socialist women including the Irish American Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. The types of actions and demands on IWD have varied over the years, including a massive strike action that fuelled the Russian revolution in February 1917.

imageAnti-choice extremists defeated in Ireland but new abortion legislation is worthless Jul 15 by Andrew Flood 0 comments

Despite spending in the region of a million euro and getting the backing of the catholic church its now clear that the anti-choice extremists of Youth Defence & the Pro Life Campaign were resoundingly defeated when the Dail finally voted though legislation implementing the X-Case judgment of 21 years ago. This time last year they were confident that they already had enough Fine Gael TD's on board to block the required legislation but they reckoned against the wave of public anger that followed the death of Savita Halappanavar after she was denied a potentially life saving abortion in a Galway hospital.

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imageA significant but minor step for the pro-choice movement Dec 21 by Andrew 0 comments

Last Thursday the European Court of Human Rights found that the Irish government had violated the rights of a woman living in Ireland who was forced to travel to Britain for an abortion. Abortion continues to be unavailable in Ireland and the court ruling was based on the failure of Irish governments to legislate for abortion under the 'X case' an infamous case from 1992 when a 14 year old rape victim X was prevented leaving the country to get an abortion in England. The WSM was centrally involved in the mobilizations that forced the courts to back down and allow X to travel and has continued to be involved in the pro-choice movement since that time. Below is the coverage we provided on Thursday on WSM.IE as the ABC result was revealed.

imageHow free can you be if you can’t even control your own body? Sep 23 by Aileen 0 comments

Last year, in Ireland, a pregnant woman carrying a foetus which could not survive was brought before the Irish courts. The state insisted that she carry it to term. That is what Ireland’s anti-abortion law meant for Miss “D”, a 17 year old in the care of the Health Services Executive. She was four months pregnant when her foetus was diagnosed with anencephaly. The outlook for individuals with this is extremely poor; stillbirth or death a few hours after birth. As the Choice Ireland group said at the time “No woman should have to endure the trauma of carrying to full term a child who will not live more than a few hours. By preventing “Miss D” from travelling to Britain for an abortion the Irish government are defining women as uterine incubators rather than individuals entitled to basic human rights”. This article examines how such of tragic state of affairs came to pass. It documents the struggle in Ireland for abortion rights, highlighting the role anarchists played in fighting for a womens right to choose.

textAbortion rights in Ireland Apr 25 by Workers Solidarity 0 comments

There will be no change in the law on abortion. A Government spokesman said it had "no plans on the general issue of abortion" despite Bertie Ahern's promise before the last general election that the matter would be addressed.

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