This show begins with Fláiva Simas from Galway Prochoice reading a migrant’s perspective on Savita Halappanavar. A musical interlude from Sissy and then I am joined in conversation with Niamh Puirséil and Máiréad Enright. Topics covered include just about everything from law, politics, respectability and media ‘balance’.
Further to this morning’s reports that seven of the 15 Independents, who were in coalition talks with Fine Gael, are “opposed outright to any constitutional change regarding abortion, while a number of others have serious reservations”.
The Irish Independent reports Fine Gael told Independents it wants to establish “a citizens’ assembly, without the participation of politicians” which would, in turn, make recommendations to the Dáil about the Eighth Amendment.
We now know it is not sufficient that women die in order for the state to repeal its abortion law. We now know that the State North and South will isolate, prosecute and torture vulnerable people irrelevant of public opinion.
When confronted with such an attack on our health and on our lives, endless political debates are not enough, action is needed.
Faced with a State that refuses to provide for the healthcare of women, we must facilitate access to this healthcare ourselves and provide the conditions for people to practice this care.
Medical abortion is a unique example of this, as it is healthcare which can be practiced easily and safely at home, with a 2 day course of medication.
We provide practical help in accessing pro choice healthcare, a live text support service between 6pm to 9pm everyday, and care packages to make people’s experience of abortion as comfortable as possible….
Every weekday at 1pm pro-choice activists are assembling outside government buildings to urge a repeal of the Eighth Amendment, in a protest organised by Amnesty International.
Their number includes Carol Hunt, who writes:
Who knew the American anti-choice brigade were such wimps? Don’t they have the courage of their anti abortion convictions?
Donald Trump came out with the logical deduction this week that, if we view abortion to be a crime against an innocent being, then it follows that women who commit this crime should be punished for it.
Yet they all seemed shocked and terribly upset that the man could even think such a thing.
Trump had to do several U-Turns and admit that criminalising women for having abortions was never going to be a winner – not even in the most rabidly anti-choice states.
To which the million, trillion dollar question must be; “Why not?”
If anti-choice groups believe that abortion is murder – as they tell us all the time – then surely justice demands that a woman who procures one is a criminal – of the worst kind – and must be punished accordingly?
The anti-choice lobby are made of much sterner stuff over here. Up until 2013 abortions were punished under the archaic 1861 Offence Against the Person Act. A woman who “procured” one could get “penal servitude for life”.Yes, as I said, archaic.
And so in 2013 the Fine Gael/Labour government replaced this life sentence with… up to 14 years in prison for any woman who had an abortion in this jurisdiction.
Maybe Donald Trump heard about this on his last visit here – the one where they rolled out the red carpet and the Irish colleens for him.
But no-one will ever be sentenced, say our own home-grown anti-abortion rights groups. Really?
Well, yesterday in Northern Ireland, where they still apply the old Offence Against the Person Act, a 21 year old woman was given a three month suspended sentence because she had bought drugs online which induced a miscarriage.
She hadn’t enough money to travel to the mainland and abortion is still illegal in Northern Ireland. While she was suffering this awful trauma her housemates called the police – I kid you not – and she was then subjected to an investigation which found her guilty of a serious crime.
Many people in Ireland don’t know that we introduced a 14-year sentence when the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill was brought in.
Actually less than one in 10 of us are aware that a woman who has an abortion could face a 14-year prison sentence. But I bet every single one of those 12 women who leave here each day to travel abroad for medical care they are denied here, do.
They know damn well what the consequences are.The logic seems to be that if they do their “dirty work” in a different country it isn’t classed as a crime at home.
But then we realised that we couldn’t jail everyone for travelling out of the country, so the “right to travel” as well as the “right to information” [about abortion] was decriminalised.
Which was great, because it meant the customs lads didn’t have to confiscate every copy of Cosmopolitan that came into the country (with ads for Marie Stopes clinics in the back pages).
But it’s still a crime to have an abortion in Ireland – unless your life, as opposed to your health, is at risk. This, despite the fact that two thirds of people living in this country want abortion to be decriminalised, according to a recent Red C poll commissioned by Amnesty Ireland.
Asked whether the Irish Government should decriminalise abortion, 67% agreed and 25% disagreed. And 81% are in favour of significantly widening the grounds for legal abortion access in Ireland.
Yet repealing the 8th amendment [which criminalises abortion in all cases except when the life of the mother is at risk] is not part of any of the main parties agendas as they discuss forming a government.
And so currently, Amnesty Ireland – and a whole host of other people – are staging a series of protests outside Government Buildings.
Every day the 12 women who leave the country to avoid a possible 14 year sentence are represented in a lunchtime vigil.
The numbers participating are growing and the tone of the gathering is upbeat and positive. We know that we can’t be ignored forever. If we want to call ourselves a functioning democracy we will have to have a referendum soon on repealing the 8th amendment. It’s that simple.
So, come on down and join us. Every day at 1pm. At Government Buildings. Bring your mates. Bring your Mammy. Bring your lunch. Or coffee. Or even cocktails if that’s what you’re into. We had balloons on Sunday. And chocolate cake.
Maybe some local businesses would like to send us down tea and sandwiches, or coffee or, dammit okay, cocktails would be fine too. We’re not going away you know. Because if even Donald Trump realises that criminalising women for having much needed abortions is disgustingly inhumane, cruel and unjust, then why can’t we?
Carol Hunt is a 2016 Seanad candidate for the NUI panel. @carolmhunt
The Berlin-Irish pro choice solidarity group are holding a protest [details below] outside the British Embassy today, Tuesday at 5pm to voice anger at the suspended sentence handed down to a 21-yearold Northern Irish woman who miscarried after purchasing abortion pills online.
A defiant self-pleasuring device for the lonely patriot.
Sex Siopa’s Shawna Scott writes:
I chose to commemorate 1916 the only way I know how…with an Irish flag dildo specially custom made for Sex Siopa by our friends at BS Atelier. Till the end of 2016, €5 from each sale will be donated to the Abortion Rights Campaign.
The future I want to see for Ireland is one in which the women of this country are trusted to make informed healthcare decisions for themselves, and our doctors are protected under the law. If you trust women, the 8th Amendment needs to be repealed.
According to the whichcandidate.ie election site, of the 44 elected Fianna Fáil TDs, only two – Lisa Chambers and Jim O’Callaghan – favour expanding access to abortion; of 50 Fine Gael TDs, only Kate O’Connell and Paschal Donohoe favour more liberal laws.
To put those figures in context: while 87% of the general population favour expanding access to abortion, only 4.5% of Fianna Fáil TDs and 4% of Fine Gael TDs do.
… I agree that the campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment isn’t going to lie down under a conservative coalition. I too believe that we can put a referendum on this government’s agenda.
But if our referendum is begrudged to us by overwhelmingly anti-choice politicians, are these really the people we want to preside over it?
Leo Varadkar, minister for health under the outgoing government, regarded by many as a future Fine Gael leader, has publicly stated that while the current legislation may be too restrictive, he wants to keep a “pro-life” amendment in the constitution.
After all our work, can Ireland’s feminist movement risk letting Fine Fáil scheme to replace the eighth with another constitutional amendment? To offer – masquerading as middle ground – not the opportunity to repeal the eighth but to amend it?