The newly formed London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign, the UK-based branch of the Irish movement to make abortion free, safe and legal, is launching a mass social media ‘check-in’ for Irish expats going home for Christmas.
We want those heading back to Ireland for the festive season to show support for women travelling in the other direction, by ‘checking in’ at ferry and airports and using the hashtag #choice4xmas.
The #choice4xmas campaign will run from December 16th. We’re asking ex-pats to check-in on social media at airports and ferry ports, with the suggested text:
“Travelling home to Ireland & thinking of the 11 women a day who travel to Britain for an abortion #choice4xmas #repealthe8th #Extend1967Act”.
Those who aren’t travelling can share and like our content to show their support.
London-Irish ARC’s next open meeting takes place at 18:30 on February 1 at Queen Mary’s University. Those interested in attending can book a place here.
Taking the trip to Liverpool today are a couple dealing with grief, and the extra trauma of having to fly to the UK for treatment, following the diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality.
The couple, who also have a disabled child, are documenting their trip on Twitter and Snapchat.
Writes the couple’s husband:
This Thursday, the 10th of November, we will travel to the UK from Ireland to have a termination. This is not by choice. Three months ago, after many attempts, we were overjoyed at the discovery we were successful.
Our first child was born with a genetic condition that meant we spent many months in hospital and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Although there is a risk any future children may carry the same condition we decided it was a risk worth taking.
At our first pre-natal appointment, we were offered a genetic screening test. Although it does not screen for the condition that affects our first child, it will for others that may inhibit the baby’s chance of survival. Of course we agreed to a simple blood test, after all the heartbeat now visible was strong and all markers pointed to a healthy pregnancy. Then we got the call that nothing can prepare you for.
A fatal foetal abnormality was discovered. We had never heard of Edwards’ syndrome before but we were told that even if carried to full term the period of life would be counted in the minutes and hours after birth. It is a crushing sentence for any person to hear, let alone for my wife who has had to give up her career to become a full-time carer for our little boy.
We went back for more tests and got confirmation. We should be telling our friends and relatives about our joyous news at just over 12 weeks; instead we are now past the point of being able to go to a hospital in the UK so we had to make arrangements to visit a clinic.
Traumatic in its own right, we also have to get someone to mind our child who requires constant monitoring throughout the day or his condition can cause him to slip into a coma and his brain can basically shut down. A lot of responsibility for us, even more putting it on someone else’s shoulders.
(Despite) what should be a simple procedure that could be carried out 20 minutes from home, in a risk-free environment, we are being forced to travel to the UK, leaving our child behind and the risks that involves to do the most humane thing possible to a baby that will never survive. That’s why we are going to document our experience from start to finish on Thursday.
We hope that this may enlighten those who do not want to listen or even allow the people of this country to decide for themselves. Our Government has continually kicked the can down the road and we, the people, must decide if we can allow this to happen. We hope that by documenting our experience it may help those that may have been through something similar or may be unfortunate enough to do so in the future.
Please share and check back on Thursday morning for updates throughout the day.
Abortion protests in Dublin in 1992 during the X Case
Paul Cullen writing (In the Irish Times) about the increasingly inevitable repeal of the Eighth Amendment, opines that:
“…discussion is being dominated by the strident voices on the two ends of the spectrum, each group deeply attached to absolutist views on the subject”.
This all-too-common refrain suggests a false equivalence: that those who actively oppose abortion and those who actively support its availability are direct polar opposites – “absolutist views” – on a finite spectrum.
The usual conclusion of this question-begging cliché is that the most desirable or moral position may, or even must be some nebulous midpoint on the scale – a supposed “moderate centre ground” or the like.
This is the kind of fallacy that might lead one to argue that since some people are for slavery and some against, a little slavery is surely best.
Further, the anti-abortion position can be defined with some considerable measure of confident objectivity as absolutist or extreme by reference to clinically verifiable best medical practice, international human rights’ norms and opinion polling. (Support for an all-out abortion ban has hovered around 10 per cent in recent Irish polls).
The same cannot be said of the pro-choice position. It is therefore not good enough to suggest, by implying a false dichotomy, that since the anti-abortion position is absolutist, so too, ipso facto, is the pro-choice position.
Protesters at a pro-choice rally in Dublin last year
Una Mullally, in The Guardian, writes:
The movement to repeal the 8th is growing, especially since the equal marriage referendum last year inspired a generation of young Irish people. In the days after that referendum, the question that Irish people hear repeatedly from abroad was raised: how can Ireland have gay marriage and not abortion? It’s one that can only be answered by acknowledging that misogyny in Ireland runs even deeper than homophobia.
What the equal marriage referendum taught us was that change comes from the bottom up. And we don’t just need one voice advocating for change, but many. The recent March for Choice in Dublin was replicated in cities around the world, with tens of thousands of people turning out to demand reproductive rights.
…Women are now telling their abortion stories in great numbers for the first time, and as we learned during the equal marriage referendum campaign, you can’t beat real-life experiences with abstract arguments.
Successive Irish governments haven’t listened to their female citizens. But what Irish governments really dislike is being embarrassed from abroad. As a nation, we are insecure, obsessed with our identity and what people think of us. So if politicians don’t have the guts to tackle this issue then they need to be shamed into action.
Solidarity matters because the extended hand often feels so much warmer than your own. The idea that people you don’t even know care about you is important. It bolsters you. And while solidarity from outside Ireland exists in pockets, we now need it from Britain en masse.
British people need to stomp on the streets and on the floors of parliament to help shame our government. British people should especially demand that women in Northern Ireland have the same reproductive rights as in England, Scotland, and Wales, and that those rights be extended to women on the Isle of Man too.
A strip of sea separates us, but we are just like you. We watch EastEnders, shop in Topshop, cry at Bake Off and drink gin. Your football teams are our football teams. We don’t earn enough and are sick of the rain. We are not “other”.
Polish politicians have withdrawn draft legislation that would introduce a near-total ban on abortion, in a hastily arranged vote that marks the first major domestic setback for the ruling conservatives and follows massive street protests.
Up to 100,000 women dressed in black protested throughout Poland on Monday against plans to tighten the country’s already restrictive abortion rules.
Right-wing and liberal parliamentarians in the 450-member lower house joined forces to vote 352 against 58 to reject the controversial bill, with 18 abstentions.
Vice presidential candidates Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s running mate, and Senator Tim Kaine, standing with Hillary Clinton, discuss their faith and abortion rights during their only debate of the campaign.