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Recent articles by Andrew
Recent Articles about Ireland / Britain Gender
Ireland - Migrant X refused an abortion and forced to have a C-section
A story of abuse at the hands of a racist, sexist authoritarian state
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.
All those running the system which imposed such barbaric treatment on this women don’t want to talk about individual cases. Of course they don’t, when you can get away with speaking in broad generalisations you can avoid facing up to the barbaric situations created by the laws you administer and maintain. The victims of this system become a mere statistic.
But we know now what the outcome of the 8th Amendment & the Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Act is. It is an 18 year old woman, fleeing an unknown country where she was raped. In a strange country with a cruel asylum system in which some people have already been detained for over a decade she is told that she is pregnant as a result of the rape.
When the story of her treatment eventually breaks she tells a journalist, who asks if she had people she could turn to, “No, I didn’t want people to know . . . For me this was shameful. In our culture if a girl gives birth to a child before marriage everything is finished. No one can respect you. As well as that, for me, with the rape, it was difficult” Kitty Holland, the journalist describes her as a “softly spoken young woman, a migrant who looks about four years younger than her age” who is “thin, fragile”
At this point she is 8 weeks and 4 days pregnant. She has asked for an abortion. At this point in time this could have been a simple procedure, a medial abortion involving no more than taking a few pills. We know now that around this point she was committed to a psychiatric hospital following her initial request for termination - we don’t know what reasons were given but ahead of the introduction of the bill we warned that a common consequence of revealing suicidal feelings was such a committal. For whatever reasons it appears this woman was messed around by a number of institutions in the weeks that followed after being led to believe she would be able to access an abortion.
It seems it was only 8 weeks later that she discovered she would have to find about 1500 euro for an abortion in England - a terrible situation that huge numbers of women in Ireland face every year. But as a migrant women forced to flee her own country as far as we know she had no income and no social network she could turn to for help, she also had limited English. We don’t know her exact status but women similar to her who are in the ‘Direct Provision’ system receive only 19 euro per week. She also doesn’t appear to have been informed of initiatives like the Abortion Support Network who “help women from Ireland and Northern Ireland travel to England to access a safe and legal abortion”
She says it was at this point that she decided to kill herself and returning to the place where she lived she tried to kill herself through hanging but “she was interrupted” Even after this it appears it was only when she subsequently made contact with a family friend that they finally advised her to “go to a GP and tell them she was suicidal because of the pregnancy”
It seems impossible to consider the account to this point and not wonder aloud as to how none of the officials she encountered explained to her that this was the only way she could access an abortion in Ireland. Was it fear for their own jobs or funding? Was it in some cases an ideological opposition to women being able to access abortion?
She went to a GP, the GP referred her to hospital where she saw first one psychiatrist who told here “No, you are already too far pregnant” and later that night a second who told her the same thing. The following morning she was scanned again, she was now 24 weeks pregnant and it was too late to have an abortion. She told them “You can leave me now to die. I don’t want to live in this world anymore’” and stopped eating and drinking. It appears she was put on a suicide watch as she was always watched over by a nurse who even accompanied her to the bathroom.
It appears the hospital took a case to the courts and were allowed to force feed her. She reports that after four days she was told by two doctors that she was going to be given an abortion the following week but that she would have to eat and drink to be strong enough for the procedure.
A few days later she says she was told she couldn’t have an abortion, that she would have to have a Caesarean section. After another couple of days she was told “the authorities had been made aware of her situation” and it was only at this point that she received a solicitor via the HSE.
In terms of what she told Kitty Holland it seems that in these days she was paraded in front of a number of experts and legal figures but that she “didn’t speak to anyone. I didn’t want to see people. I just listened to what they said without looking at them”
She described being shown the legal forms for the Caesarean signed as required under the Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Act by "two psychiatrists and one gynaecologist". She says “I didn’t listen. I didn’t have a choice. All the suffering I had gone through. Then on Wednesday at about 3pm they did it.”
You can see why all those in power don’t want to talk about ‘individual cases.’ Which of these details that have emerged piece by piece over the last week would they be proud to stand over. When you hear the details it becomes clear that the Irish state and its institutions treated this woman as an awkward nuisance - a legal complication that had to be shuffled around. For the HSE it appears it was a good outcome as their spokesperson told the Irish Times “a pregnancy can be terminated by way of delivery through Caesarean section, as it was in this instance” and that this mean there would be no need to review the process.
How many officials were involved in total in shuffling this women around? What government ministers knew, and were these “the authorities [that] had been made aware of her situation”? When Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald was in Geneva in July to answer the UN charge that “Irish abortion law treats women as a vessel and nothing more” did she already know the facts of this case? The HSE knew in May so it seems likely. It’s hard to imagine a more clear cut case of a women being treated as a “vessel and nothing more”. Minister Charlie Flanagans cruel if perhaps careless words this morning that “There doesn’t appear to be an appetite for a further referendum” confirm that attitude.
Our focus here is restating what is known, and adding this additional information about the the women being committed is not to target some minister or official for punishment for the way they allowed this women to be treated. What is on trial here are not individuals but the entire system of racist, sexist subjugation we have allowed to be constructed in our name. Repealing the 8th amendment and ending deportations are only the first small steps in bringing that system to an end.
WORDS & IMAGE: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )
Thu 18 Sep, 21:42
Poor turnout in Ireland for Vigil for 'Life' despite massive spending 03:18 Wed 23 Jan 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]
20 years on X case to finally be legislated 17:40 Wed 19 Dec 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.
Irish parliament blockaded by 100s after 3rd refusal in 6 months to legislate for X-case 22:59 Fri 30 Nov 0 comments
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.
Countering the Irish "Pro-Life" Rally - Pro-Choice Counter Demonstration 20:50 Thu 07 Jul 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.
NI Women sold out by Labour on equal access to abortion 21:22 Tue 02 Dec 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
Shut Down Rogue Pregnancy Counselling Agency 00:48 Mon 23 Apr 0 comments
Advertised as a pregnancy counselling agency, it subjects women in crisis
Talking about Sexual Violence 20:00 Thu 14 Sep 0 comments
Report from a WSM member on a women's only day-school on sexual violence recently held in Ireland.
International Women's Day 20:16 Fri 27 May 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.
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.
Ireland: Total ban on gay men's blood donation is no longer justifiable Jun 29 2 comments
Photo from last years Dublin Pride
A significant but minor step for the pro-choice movement Dec 21 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.
How free can you be if you can’t even control your own body? Sep 23 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.
Abortion rights in Ireland Apr 25 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.more >>
Cork Queer Pride 2005: What are we Proud of? & who can we rely on? Aug 03 WSM 0 comments
So what are exactly are we proud of? Is it just that we are attracted to a particular gender or genders? Or, are we proud of our courageous history of struggles as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered/ LGBT/ Queer people for our rights, and against bigotry, oppression and hatred?