‘It’s Now Easier To Be Pro-Choice Than Ever Before’

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How pro-life candidates fared in the election, so far, compiled by Fintan O’Toolbox

But what now?

Stephanie Lord writes:

Labour might have been confident that they could deliver a referendum on the eighth amendment, but pro-choice activists of all political stripes and none haven’t forgotten that they delivered legislation on X to allow for abortion where a woman would be a risk of dying that contained a 14-year jail sentence penalty for inducing a miscarriage.

And the horrifying case of teenage refugee pregnant as a result of rape enduring what was ostensibly a forced c-section at 25 weeks, despite medical professionals acknowledging that she was suicidal.

The #Repealthe8th campaign exists in spite of Labour, not because of it. Perhaps Labour in government after #ge16 would have delivered a referendum, but what would that have looked like?

Besides, Labour aren’t in government now, and unless there’s some kind of divine intervention over the next 12 hours it doesn’t look like they will be. They had five years to work to hold a referendum and didn’t.

We can acknowledge that Labour were in government when the Marriage Equality referendum happened but it was won because people mobilised and worked their rocks off to get it passed; People who were never involved in politics before came out alongside grassroots groups and got Ireland to a place where it said yes to valuing people as equals.

So instead of throwing the toys out of the pram and acting all hard done by, Labour activists would do better to channel their energies into the pro-choice campaign and work for a repeal of these laws.

There is nothing to be gained by trying to undermine the positivity of pro-choice campaigners by getting in a huff, throwing hands in the air and saying we should all just forget it now.

That said, it is difficult to ascertain just how much of a deciding factor abortion was in this general election given the number of Fianna Fail TDs that have been returned and their unwillingness to commit to a referendum – but there have been huge returns for independents and political parties who are very much in favour of holding a referendum.

The people of Dublin Bay South waved goodbye to Lucinda Creighton, one of the most staunch anti-abortion voices in the Dáil and while this is to be welcomed, this is not a time for pro-choice activists to rest on our laurels.

Clare Daly has championed reproductive justice and been returned to the Dáil alongside Joan Collins. Ruth Coppinger, Paul Murphy, Richard Boyd Barrett and Gino Kenny are all pro-choice.

Sinn Féin have a policy in favour of repeal the eighth. There is a recognition, even amongst conservatives such as Leo Varadkar and Frances Fitzgerald that a referendum is inevitable.

It is easier now to be pro-choice than it ever has been before and thanks to the work of pro-choice activists and an increase in public support, the stigma surrounding the subject is ebbing away.

Now is the time to send a clear message to the returned members of the new Dáil that a commitment to repeal the eighth amendment must form a part of any new Programme for Government.

Women must no longer be blocked from accessing appropriate healthcare. Public opinion on the need to repeal the law and provide legal abortion for women is far more progressive than what is represented in the Dáil now, even with the addition of the large range of socialist, republican and left of centre voices. This public opinion needs to be converted into action on the ground.

After #ge16, what now for #repealthe8th? (Stephanie Lord, Feministire)

Image: Fintan O’Toolbox

99 thoughts on “‘It’s Now Easier To Be Pro-Choice Than Ever Before’

  1. Owen

    When I read though the list the word ELIMINATED is naturally said in a robot / terminator style voice in my head.

  2. Charley

    Folks, this is not an issue that a majority of people care about one way or another, people have worries about health and bills and housing, niche issues will be low down their lists when it comes to voting.

    1. YA

      “people have worries about health”. Abortion is a health concern.

      Given that 12 people travel to the UK every day for an abortion, I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s a niche issue.

      1. Charley

        With mental health services diminished, elderly people piled on trollies and cancer services in chaos it still falls way down the list. Cancer has touched every household in the country ,abortion hasn’t. When something hasn’t directly effected someone it’s not going to be something they are going to be overly worried about. I didn’t vote in any of the abortion referenda as I didn’t see it as an issue that concerned me and will do the same when the next one comes along.

        1. Cool_Hand_Lucan

          Charley, that’s over 20,000 women who had to travel to the UK to avail of abortion services in the lifetime of the last government.

          If it was 20,000 men who had to travel to the UK to get vasectomies, would that be considered niche?

        2. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

          “I didn’t vote in any of the abortion referenda as I didn’t see it as an issue that concerned me and will do the same when the next one comes along.”

          I will never understand this attitude

          1. jack johnson

            Maybe because we’re told often enough that “unless you have a uterus you don’t get a say”

          2. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            It was a wider comment on people not using their vote. But thanks for helping me understand Jack, it was getting quite complicated for little ol me!

        3. well

          Cancer during pregnancy makes abortion an issue.
          As does mental health
          fatal abnormalities
          sepsis.
          diabetes caused by pregnancy
          and more.

    2. meadowlark

      Oh, I see. Equal access to healthcare in this nation is not a serious issue. Sure we all knew that anyway, why change it?

    3. Lorcan Nagle

      How many women do you know, Charley? Divide that number by ten, and that’s roughly how many you know who’ve had an abortion. This is not a niche issue, but rather one that women have been discouraged from talking about. The reason that repeal the 8th has become a major issue is because that stigma is rapidly going away.

      1. Bertie Blenkinsop

        “How many women do you know, Charley? Divide that number by ten, and that’s roughly how many you know who’ve had an abortion”

        Is it really that common?

        Genuine question.

        I don’t know anyone who has had one, to my knowledge.

        1. Lorcan Nagle

          Sorry, it’s actually estimated at between one in ten and one in fifteen women

          http://www.abortionrightscampaign.ie/facts/ (there’s references at the bottom of the article)

          And while it’s entirely possible that you don’t know anyonw who’s had an abortion, it’s more likely that you know someone who’s unwilling or unable to tell you. A fair few people I know only told me their abortion stories after they discovered I was a pro-choice activist.

          1. Bertie Blenkinsop

            “it’s more likely that you know someone who’s unwilling or unable to tell you.”

            That thought did occur to me right enough.

          2. Lorcan Nagle

            And just in case it needs saying, I didn’t mean that as a dig at you or anything. Social pressures against women when it comes to “bad sex” related issues such as rape and abortion are huge, and can easily effect them even while nobody in their social circles are actively pressuring them.

    4. classter

      ‘this is not an issue that a majority of people care about one way or another’

      The level of coverage given to the topic (whether pro or anti) in all corners of the media suggest that you are wrong.

          1. Lorcan Nagle

            The March for choice starting and increaing in size every year.

            Lobbyists travelling to the UN and EU, who in turn have put pressure on the Irish government to liberalise abortion laws.

            Enda Kenny shifting his position from “we legislated for abortion” after the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act to “maybe we need to have a referendum” in the last couple of months.

            Most political parties taking a pro-referendum stance leading into this general election, and many politicians remarking that this is the first election where anyone has mentioned a pro-choice stance as being a decider as to whether to vote for them or not.

            More women are willing to speak about their abortions, especially women in the media such as Rosín Ingle and Tara Flynn.

            I could go on…

    5. Starina

      just because you don’t care about it, Charley, doesn’t make it a niche issue. and no amount of saying that it’s niche will make it go away

      1. Charley

        You seem to miss the point, abortion is a big issue for you but not for many others, it’s not something that comes up in conversation, Jobs, healthcare, water charges are mainstream issues,abortion isn’t.

          1. Charley

            I’m bored with this already, A is pro-life, B is pro-choice, C doesn’t give a toss what A or B want or don’t want, is this too difficult to understand?

      1. Charley

        No reply below “Well” “I’m bored with this already” that was to be my last post but you draw some bizarre conclusion from me answering a question. I voted from 1 to 14 leaving out the 2 FG candidates on the ballot paper and leaving the FF ones on 13 and 14. How the f++k does my lack of an opinion suddenly become an opinion .

        1. well

          “How the fupp does my lack of an opinion suddenly become an opinion ”

          because you won’t shut the fupp up abou it.

  3. Rob_G

    Glad to see that the pro-life candidates didn’t do very well, but disagree with author on Labour: a strong Labour Parrt in govt would be the best bet for a referendum on repealing the 8th. Look how luke-warm FF were on the same-sex marriage referendum; I doubt that a FG-FF govt will be in any hurry to legislate & draw the wrath of a sizable section of the voting public.

        1. Rob_G

          And, if both parties end up in coalition together, both will be planning on pulling the rug from under the other by calling a snap election; who would choose to legislate for a contentious topic in that climate?

  4. Joe

    So Labour have to take the blame for the bad stuff that happened when it was in government, but can’t take any credit for the good stuff that happened?

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      You finally lost me when your leader remarked that water protesters owned smart phones. She showed arrogance and contempt in her taking offence that people with disposable income mightn’t have been happy with her government’s new utility.

      1. Drebbin

        That was a deeply stupid thing to say, and there were lots of good reasons not to vote Labour. But it doesn’t change the facts. Labour are pro-choice, they insisted on the marriage referendum, and they made a referendum on the 8th Amendment a deal-breaker for entering government again.

        1. pedeyw

          They could have pushed for it within the last term. It was a more convenient bargaining chip to wait till this election and hope they could win voters with it. Labour were toothless. There’s been a lot of talk of a swing to the left with this election but I think we already had one last election, we just didn’t get get the left wing party we voted for.

          1. Rob_G

            FG had already lost one referendum on abolishing the Senate. They also lost several TDs over the gay marriage referendum (and their mealy-mouthed efforts to begin to legislate for abortion); no way would Enda have allowed a referendum on as contentious an issue as abortion. Labour did very well to get the same-sex marriage referendum before the electorate.

          2. pedeyw

            You’re probably correct. I would have liked them to have shown some more backbone in general, though. They mostly just rolled over.

          3. ReproBertie

            “FG had already lost one referendum on abolishing the Senate.”
            And I don’t recall a single party having reform of the seante in their manifesto. Wasn’t “Don’t get rid of it, let us fix it” the deal?

          4. ReproBertie

            Yeah, I get that Rob. My point was that the Save the Seanad campaign were all about reform, until they won their referendum.

          5. Rob_G

            @Repro

            You are dead-right; the ‘Save the Seanad’ campaign seemed to made up primarily of Continuity Young FF types, who just wanted to give a black-eye to the govt.

        2. MoyestWithExcitement

          “Labour are pro-choice”

          The SDs and SF both want to repeal the 8th and I’d be very surprised if AAA and The Greens thought any differently.

          “Labour are pro-choice”

          That doesn’t give you a pass for helping to double child poverty and make education and thus upward social mobility unaffordable to the working classes.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            I need to ctrl + C better. I meant the marriage referendum doesn’t give you a pass. It would’ve happened eventually anyway.

  5. Joe

    My leader? I’m not a member of Labour, I didn’t even vote for them. But I think it’s revisionist in the extreme to think that marriage equality would have happened without them. I’m sure Stephanie wouldn’t be saying that if a government with her own Sinn Fein involved had held the same marriage referendum.

    Labour got a deserved hiding because they got a lot wrong, including Joan’s iPhone gaff, but they should at least be given credit for the marriage referendum because I doubt FG would have done it on their own.

    1. Declan

      Agreed, simply put, there would have been no marriage referendum without Labour, Fine Gael would have kicked the can down the road for a while, same with the Protection of Life during Pregancy Act.. do you think they’d have stood firm against Lucinda and other party members without Labour being part of equation? They screwed up everything else however.. but they left a legacy of social change (again)

  6. Drebbin

    Did they leave out Michael Lowry? Obviously he’d perform a third-trimester abortion with his teeth if you gave him enough cash for it, but I think his official stance is pro-life.

  7. Lordblessusandsaveus

    Middle class 20s/30s too concerned with personal rights issues like marriage referendum, 8th amendment and gender issues while far far more people are effected by social and economic apartheid causing the destruction of social fabric and local communities all around the country.

    When your life is all cosy between your leafy suburb, walks on the pier and your professional office job, you tend you become blissfully unaware of the neglect of whole swathes of Irish society and their more pressing concerns about finding work and feeding their families.

    1. pedeyw

      Actually reasonably well off people are probably less effected by unwanted pregnancies, they have more money for contraceptives and are better able to take the trip over to England to fix any mistakes. You don’t get an abortion discount for being poor.

    2. well

      Middle class people can afford to fly to get abortions abroad. The 8th affects the working class far more.

  8. brownbull

    I think it should be acknowledged in this post that Stephanie Lord is a Sinn Fein activist and her criticism of Labour stems from this and not her feminism, if she was a feminist first and foremost she would have spoke out about the treatment of Maria Cahill

    1. Anne Marie

      90% of the people criticising Labour for this are not Sinn Fein activists. Stephanie Lord just said it better than most of them.

      1. brownbull

        the problem I have is that Broadsheet posted this opinion which is highly critical of one party, in my opinion quite a tenuous and poorly argued criticism, without acknowledging that the author is a professional political activist for another party which is the subject of much of her praise – she is a full time professional advocate for Sinn Fein, it should be acknowledged above the line

  9. newsjustin

    This is certainly one way of looking at it.

    The other way of looking at it is that Labour, who promised to repeal the 8th are unlikely to be in the next Government, and certainly don’t have the strength to make it a red-line issue. And Fianna Fail, who have said they won’t be inclined to repeal the 8th are, surprisingly, likely to play a very prominent role in the next Government.

    Also, I’m not sure how complete the list is. The Independent – Collins – in Cork SW is pro-life.

    Unborn babies can breathe a sigh of relief that Labour got a trouncing.

        1. Neilo

          Also, Justin, le mot juste for an unborn child is foetus or clump of cells. Calling them babies is all emotive and unscientific ‘n’ stuff.

          My glib prickishness aside, this 8th amendment business is going to have to be sorted out soon and definitively. 33 years on this road with no end in sight.

          1. newsjustin

            Oh yeah Lorcan.

            You were going to point out where I used that phrase. Drop a link to it into this reply thread why don’t you?

          2. Lorcan Nagle

            I said ‘phrases like’, Jusitn. and I did point out where you referred to abortion as killing. And right here you’ve referred to foetuses as babies. You may not use the exact words, but the rhetoric is right there.

            But I’m sure you’ll continue to shift the goalposts or ignore me, as per usual.

          3. newsjustin

            It’s OK Lorcan. Your passion says far more than actual facts ever could. If you do ever find evidence to back up your claim, please let us know.

            Bad day to be pro-choice, I understand. Labour are gone and FF are unlikely to champion repealing the 8th.

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            Ah, it’s grand. Sure there’ll be another election in 6 months and we’ll get some proper parties in and get that archaic religious fascism removed from our constitution and women will breath a sigh of relief everywhere that sexless middle aged men no longer have control over their bodies.

          5. newsjustin

            What’s going to change so much in 6 months Moyest? This is a larger question than abortion – I don’t get how we’ll all agree to vote differently in 6 months. I guess, if anything, people will look at it and say “well we should pick who we want to lead Govt. FF or FG”, thus squeezing all the alternative candidates and parties.

          6. MoyestWithExcitement

            I think we’ll see change, yeah. The 4 minute mile wasn’t broken until 1954. It had been tried thousands of times before that. It even got to a stage where articles were published with doctors saying it was physically impossible. Then it finally happened. Then it happened twice more 2 months later. Point being, people thought something was impossible, saw someone do it, and then did it themselves.

            People wanted FG out. Plenty of people thought the only other viable option was FF so they voted for them. Now people can see there are other real options.

          7. Same old same old

            Lol @ Moyes
            What a load of bullcrap
            Lucinda is on the telly right now campaigning for the next anti women campaign
            A loser in the election and yet rte are giving her a platform
            And you think there’s gonna be some kind of popular socialist movement? Absurd

        1. Neilo

          @Lorcan: I’d fall further towards pro-life than pro-choice on the spectrum but I fully accept that there must be circumstances under which a termination is by far the more humane way to proceed.

    1. Caroline

      Why would they breathe a sigh of relief? Their mommies are still going to murder them. That’s still going to be a thing. “Tragic news” as The Liberal would say.

  10. Junkface

    Being Pro-Choice doesn’t mean mandatory abortions. Something the Pro Lifers seem to think will happen if abortion is legalised in Ireland. Its about human rights for women in difficulties with their pregnancy, forcing them abroad is cruel and unneccessary.

    If you’re going to get up on your High Horse about childrens rights and Catholicism go and watch ‘Spotlight’ to see how the Catholic church treats children.

    1. The Real Jane

      Indeed. This state has been disasterous for women and really needs to move out of trying to govern the reproductive choices. From imprisioning women for the sin – not crime – of getting pregnant, keeping them in indentured servitude, selling their babies, performing symphysiotomies without women’s knowledge or consent, allowing women to die, allowing girls to be strapped to gurneys and force fed, keeping women alive while being eaten by infection. And that’s just the headline stuff, glossing over the day to day trauma of fatal foetal abnormality, cancer, diabetes…

      They need to accept that they are not qualified or competent to make these decisions for women, that they’ve failed and that they need to step aside and let women choose for ourselves.

      They also need to accept that all they’ve actually achieved with the 8th is to bring horror to the lives of some women and families. They haven’t eliminated abortion since so many women travel to have one. So it doesn’t even achieve what they want (unless what they really actually do want is to punish women, where it is performing extremely well).

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