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Decades of organising wins new abortion referendum in Ireland

category ireland / britain | gender | opinion / analysis author Freitag Februar 02, 2018 18:43author by Emilia & Andrew - WSM (Ireland) Report this post to the editors

Constitutional ban in place since 1983 to be repealed if referendum passes

The announcement that there will be a referendum to decriminalise abortion in Ireland is the product of decades of active campaigning. Pro-choice campaigners built for repeal ever since the hated 8th amendment was entered into the Constitution in 1983, putting a ban on abortion, which was already illegal in the country, into the constitution. If at first this seemed like a distant demand now repeal looks by far the most likely outcome in May. The story of how this happened illustrates how change comes in general. That is not through elections but through people getting organised to demand that change, regardless of which politicians happen to be running the show in any particular year.
Collage showing politicians who announced referendum in front of one of the protests that forced them to act
Collage showing politicians who announced referendum in front of one of the protests that forced them to act

After all few would have predicted that it would have been a Fine Gael government supported by Fianna Fáil (the largest parties in Ireland, both traditionally conservative and centre-right) that would finally move forward on the referendum to repeal the 8th. We can say this with great certainty because when Labour were thrown out of power in the last election a range of pundits from the right and the left, including the Labour Party, tweeted very definite declarations that this meant there could be no referendum. How wrong they were, but fortunately most pro-choice organisers stepped up their activity rather than waiting for the next election.

Who is in power is, of course, not completely irrelevant but significant changes are far, far more dependent on people organising themselves to demand change and forcing politicians to implement that change. Almost every significant change in political policy in Ireland, from the abolition of water charges to Repeal of the 8th has been an outcome of people organising together and mobilising to force change. Within this direct action played a key role in ensuring politicians cannot simply stick their heads in the sand.

With the water charges campaign which defeated a new flat rate austerity tax, it was mass non-payment and the disruption of meter installations that forced the politicians who insisted the charge was inevitable to abolish it. With the pro-choice movement it has been thousands of people per year, carrying unwanted pregnancies obtaining abortion pills for themselves and taking them in Ireland, despite being at risk of a 14 year prison sentence. Before and during the 1991 ‘x-case’ when the state injected a 14 year old she so could not travel to England for an abortion ‘illegal’ distribution of abortion information and huge marches demanding X be allowed travel played the same role and forced the politicians to call the 1992 referenda that saw the bans on abortion information and travel for abortion overturned.

Politicians have always been excellent at stepping in front of the cameras, right at the moment that movements, built by others are on the edge of success. Political careers are made or broken on the basis of the timing of this decision. There is of course some courage involved in that decision due to the risk being taken but the subsequent focus on the politician can give the impression that they are the reason for change, and not the movement they have stepped in front of.

The current wave of organising that won the holding of this referendum inherited the work of others but otherwise began in the protests against the Youth Defence billboards targetting women who had abortions set up by the anti-choice group Youth Defence in the summer of June 2012. Not for the first time arrogant attacks from anti-choice bigots galvanised an angry backlash and a new generation of resistance. In a similar but smaller way in the late 1980s the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children brought together the organisers who put together the x-case march when SPUC went after students providing abortion information in guidebooks.

In the early Autumn of 2012 Savita Halappanavar, an Indian woman living in Galway, died from septicemia after being denied an emergency abortion. When the horrific news of her death circulated the pro-choice organisers of the Dublin demonstration knew each other from the protests against the billboards and were able to quickly organise. And after the initial protests they did not go home and wait for the next tragedy but started to do the ground work in preparing the movement that emerged - in particular through the creation of the Abortion Rights Campaign and the annual March for Choice that rapidly grew to mobilising 10s of thousands. Last year’s #Strike4Repeal, a huge grassroots protest which blocked O’Connell bridge and brought Dublin to a halt for the afternoon, turned up the heat in demonstrating there could be consequences to politicians thinking they could simply ignore this growing movement.

There will be time after the referendum victory to write a detailed history of this movement but here we wanted to open this campaign by pointing out that it is not Prime Minister Leo Varadkar or even the Citizens Assembly (a panel set up to deliberate on the issue and make policy recommendation) that is forcing change but the work of a mostly unknown set of organisers over the last few years. This understanding will matter in the aftermath of the referendum when we move on to fighting the problems in the legislation that will be introduced (and there will be problems). But it also matters to how we understand that we can collectively change all aspects of the world we live in. Solutions lie not through the selection of politicians but through the building of sustainable movement that are willing to take action to achieve their goals.

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This is an internationalised version of the article published on the WSM website at https://www.wsm.ie/c/finally-referendum-repeal8th-organ...appen. For this Anarkismo publication we've explained contents that we could assume readers in Ireland would be aware of but which other Anarkismo readers might not.

Verwandter Link: https://www.wsm.ie/pro-choice
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Ireland / Britain | Gender | en

Do 18 Okt, 20:59

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The front of the march passed the GPO imageMarch for Choice 2017 - report & video from Dublin 23:03 Fr 13 Okt by Dermo & Andrew 0 comments

Saturday the 30th of September 2017 will go down as a high point in the fight for abortion rights in the Republic of Ireland, and that is a struggle that stretches back decades. Years of campaigning and maintaining a focus on the issue, saw a massive crowd of nearly 30,000 people take to the streets for the annual March for Choice as organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign [ARC]. The calls are for action, and the need for Repeal of the 8th Amendment which bans abortion in almost all circumstances.

shoutprochoice.jpg imageFrom Dublin to Brussels demand universal access to abortion 20:09 Di 26 Sep by International Sec 0 comments

The Workers Solidarity Movement in Ireland is in full support of the protests in Brussels on the 28th September demanding a guaranteed, free, and accessible access to abortion across Europe. The EU has stood by idly while the bodily autonomy of pregnant people continues to be violated by some member states including Ireland and Malta. It has similarly done nothing while other member states progressively attack reproductive rights based on the political whimsy of the controlling parties of ever-increasing conservative governments. We hope the this mobilisation will demonstrate the united commitment to reproductive freedom for all.

We stand with you in spirit as we prepare for our own mobilisation on the 30th of September for the Dublin March for Choice and it appears almost certain a constitutional referendum to remove the ban on abortion next summer. The text that follows is our position paper on abortion rights agreed by WSM national conference this summer.

rally4choiceimage.jpg imageRally 4 Choice successfully sees off annual anti-choice parade in Ireland 00:17 Fr 21 Jul by Andrew 0 comments

Every year in either Dublin or Belfast the pro and anti choice movements come head to head around the so called ‘Rally for Life’. This year it was Dublin’s unwilling role to play host to the bigot parade. It mattered more years than many as a referendum on the hated 8th Amendment that bans abortion is promised for next year. It could be that the next Dublin bigot parade scheduled for 2019 will come after they have suffered a major defeat.

Dublin's main bridge was occupied imageThousands take part in pro-choice #Strike4Repeal in Ireland 18:46 Do 30 Mär by Andrew 0 comments

International Womens Day in Ireland saw thousands take to the streets in a sequence of 'in work time' protests under the heading 'Strike4Repeal'. Abortion is illegal in almost all circumstances and the protests were an attempt by pro-choice activists to forced the government to stop delaying a referendum to repeal the anti-choice 8th Amendment placed in the Irish constitution in 1983. Workers Solidarity Movement members took part in organising the day and in the aftermath produced a number of articles and videos detailing what happened.

12308349_430562260466549_6836821034651144205_n.jpg imageEmergency protest for abortion demand held in Belfast 20:07 Mi 02 Dez by Fionnghuala Nic Roibearid 0 comments

Somewhere in the region of 70 people attended an emergency protest yesterday outside Belfast City Hall.

10982782_400702316785877_3447241981251257262_n.jpg imageAmnesty International is holding its International Council Meeting in Dublin 18:07 Mo 10 Aug by Andrew Flood 0 comments

Amnesty International is holding its International Council Meeting in Dublin this week and earlier today many of the delegate attending staged a protest at the Dail (Irish Parliament) against the criminalisation of women under Ireland's anti-choice laws.

dublinsolidarityphotoshoot.jpg imageDublin protests in solidarity with the Belfast mother charged with supplying the abortion pill to he... 20:35 Do 23 Jul by Andrew 0 comments

A couple of hundred people came to the pro choice solidarity rally in Dublin, Ireland last nigh organised by the WSMt. It was called to protest against the prosecution of a women in Belfast for supplying her daughter with the abortion pill.

belfastwomentrial.jpg imageBelfast woman charged for helping daughter procure an abortion 18:44 Mo 20 Jul by Fionnghuala 0 comments

News broke on the 19th June that a Belfast woman is to stand trial for helping her daughter procure an abortion. In response on 24th June a letter was handed in signed by 215 abortion activists admitting that they are guilty of breaking the law by either taking or helping someone procure the Early Medical Abortion (EMA) pill.

sorrymigrantx.jpg imageIreland - Migrant X refused an abortion and forced to have a C-section 23:31 Do 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 04:18 Mi 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]

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textRallying for Choice in Belfast Okt 14 by Kellie 0 comments

On 14th October 2017, Rally for Choice will march through the streets of Belfast. - Last year saw us counter protest the Rally for Life in the North of Ireland, for the first time we marched against their lies instead of our usual static demo. Our counter protest was a huge success, despite being organised at short notice and with only a handful of activists. The protest burst across our streets and convened at Buoy Park afterwards for speakers. We outnumbered the Rally for Life 2016 significantly.

textThe WSM on the struggle for abortion rights in Ireland Okt 13 by National Conference 0 comments

This is the Workers Solidarity Movement position paper on Abortion Rights as collectively agreed at July 2017 WSM National Conference.  This position paper sits under the Patriarchy paper which in turn is under the Anarchism, Oppression & Exploitation paper, and hence does not repeat any of that material in these.

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Next week will see the promotion of Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA (Member of Northern Ireland Assembly), Arlene Foster to the position of DUP leader and the North of Ireland’s First Minister. Foster is a woman who was once described to have “learned a lot from the likes of Thatcher when it comes to dealing with men in politics."

imageOver 1000 early medical abortion pills seized by Irish customs Sep 29 by Fionnghuala Nic Roibeaird 0 comments

Over 1,000 abortion pills were seized last year at customs, a figure that represents double the amount seized the two years previous. This fact is very much in contradiction with the myth of the anti-choice side that there is no demand for abortion in Ireland.

imageSave on Child Care: Smash the Patriarchy! Aug 21 by Tom Murray 0 comments

Child-care in Ireland is so expensive because it is so undervalued. Only through care-workers’ collective withdrawal of labour will those who rely on us realise how vital our work is.

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imageFrom Dublin to Brussels demand universal access to abortion Sep 26 WSM 0 comments

The Workers Solidarity Movement in Ireland is in full support of the protests in Brussels on the 28th September demanding a guaranteed, free, and accessible access to abortion across Europe. The EU has stood by idly while the bodily autonomy of pregnant people continues to be violated by some member states including Ireland and Malta. It has similarly done nothing while other member states progressively attack reproductive rights based on the political whimsy of the controlling parties of ever-increasing conservative governments. We hope the this mobilisation will demonstrate the united commitment to reproductive freedom for all.

We stand with you in spirit as we prepare for our own mobilisation on the 30th of September for the Dublin March for Choice and it appears almost certain a constitutional referendum to remove the ban on abortion next summer. The text that follows is our position paper on abortion rights agreed by WSM national conference this summer.

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