In August it was revealed that a young rape victim had been denied the abortion she requested while apparently being led to believe that this was possible. It came after the horrific death two years ago of Savita Halappanaver who died when she was refused an abortion.
Yesterday thousands demonstrated in Dublin to demand for abortion rights and repeal of 8th amendment to the Irish State’s constitution which enshrines this denial of women’s rights.
The march was organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign and was mainly composed of young people, overwhelmingly young women, who represent a new generation that is not prepared to quietly accept the denial of the most fundamental of rights to control their own bodies. They are aware that increasingly they speak for the majority of people in the State and that the barrier to the vindication of their rights is the State itself, behind which stands the reactionary forces long associated with the Catholic Church.
The leaflet given out at the demonstration by its organisers pointed out that the Irish state has the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. That if a woman seeks a termination it can only be on the grounds that there is an imminent and substantial risk to the woman’s life, including suicide. Rape is not legal grounds for an abortion, nor is the fact that a foetus will not survive outside the womb and the restrictive grounds that do exist require an assessment by up to 6 doctors.
Many of the demonstrators pulled wheelie luggage with tags for LHR and LPL, recording the fact that 159,000 women have travelled to Britain for an abortion since 1980. The latest legislation by the State is not a solution to this infamous ‘Irish solution to an Irish problem’ – the temporary export of women to Britain.
The demonstration signposted the need for a new campaign to repeal the 8th amendment on the 30th anniversary of its passing, with speakers noting that most of those attending would have had no opportunity to participate in this decision.
The repeated exposure of the criminal abuse by the Catholic Church has robbed this body of much influence but it continues to retain its power though its alliance with the state and many demonstrators demanded their separation.
The campaign and others have correctly decided that the demand for repeal of this part of the State’s constitution is not a policy of reliance and dependency on the state but an effort to remove shackles on their rights and that direct, first-hand action has and will continue to be taken to provide women with real choice during unwanted pregnancies.