This popped on on my memory feed on Facebook, 4 years ago I took part in this photo op, which was for the 1st March for Choice. We have come a long way as the preparation for this years March for Choice (on the 24th of September) is in full swing.
If someone had of told me then, there would be donuts, people clamoring for jumpers, Farmers for Choice, a Fantasy Footy League and a growing number of pro choice TDs, I would have found it hard to believe.
We have come a long way in 4 years, and that is due to all of the hard amazing work people have put in to the Abortion Rights Campaign, putting in hours with skills they have, sharing those skills and learning new ones as we keep pushing for a referendum.
This morning I had to as part of one of my college modules deliver a 2 minute oral presentation on a topic of my choosing. I had chosen 5 reasons to Repeal the 8th as my topic, but given recent events decided to do 5 facts about the abortion pills.
“Good Morning, I am here to tell you two things and five facts. ”
I raised my right hand up with with raised fingers and then my left with five raised fingers. Then lowered my right and and ticked off with my fingers on my right both things.
“The first thing I am going to tell you is that I am angry, very angry and that anger is why I am not going to talk about the topic I indicated to our lecturer I am going to instead in light of the court case in Belfast, I am going to talk about the abortion pills.
The second thing I will tell you is that, some of what I am about to say may be illegal, it may break the 1995 abortion information act, but as no one has ever been prosecuted under the act and the abortion pills were not considered when it was created I don’t know for sure. ”
I then lowered my right and and raised my left with all fingers raised, curling one after the other as I ticked off each fact starting with my index finger.
“The first fact is that the pills which are know as the abortion pills are legal for that use everywhere in the EU bar Ireland and Malta. The have been legal in France from 1988, which means that in 1992 if Miss X the 14 year old who was raped had of lived in France she could have been prescribed the pills by a dr and the pregnancy ended in 24hours, instead of facing court injunctions, traveling and national uproar.
The second fact is that the pills are legally used everywhere in the EU bar Ireland and Malta to end a pregnancy in the first 10 to 12 weeks of a pregnancy. This means if Migrant Y had of been in another EU country when she discovered she was 8 pregnant from rape, she could have been she could have been prescribed the pills by a dr and the pregnancy ended in 24hours. Instead due to the 8th amendment she was forced to continue a pregnancy she did not want, had medical treatment she did not want and was forced to have a C Section.
The third fact is the pills are part of health care, if you are undergoing chemotherapy and the mandatory test you do before you start your scheduled dose show you are pregnant the chemotherapy is stopped. This Happened to Michele Harte, she took the hospital in Cork to court to get an abortion to continue her chemo and was denied. Eventually while very ill she travelled to the UK for an abortion and came back to continue her chemotherapy. In any other EU country bar Ireland and Malta you can be she could have been prescribed the pills by a dr and the pregnancy ended in 24hours. Michele Sued the HSE and won, but died from her cancer soon after.
The fourth fact is these pills are prescribed to women all over the country by maternity hospitals and units when they have had a incomplete miscarriage. They are prescribed the pills by a dr and fill the prescription, take the pills at home and what is left of the pregnancy is ended in 24hours.
The fifth fact is that if the young woman in Belfast, who has been given a suspended sentence, had of being living in another part of the UK in Scotland, Wales or England, the use of the pills would have been legal, she would have for free been prescribed the pills by a dr and filled the prescription, taken the pills at home. If she lived in the Republic of Ireland she could have been given a sentence of up to 14 years”
At this stage I folded down my thumb creating a fist of solidarity and kept it raised.
“I am angry and today I stand in solitary with the young woman in Belfast, with the 10 women a day who travel to Ireland to the UK to have an abortion and the many others who can not afford to travel and risk 14 years to import and use the abortion pills at home.
I am Janet O’Sullivan, I am a spokesperson for the Abortion Rights Campaign, and if you want to hear me talk more on this, I will be on Community Radio Castlebar, 109.2fm at 5:30pm. This Revolution is being Broadcast.”
I am still angry, but anger is an energy, it’s fueling a lot of us and we will use it to Repeal the 8th amendment and bring in the abortion rights which we need.
The Minister for Justice on a recent interview on Newstalk, was asked about the UN’s Economic & Social Council’s recommendation to have a referendum on abortion.
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights report states that Ireland must reform it’s abortion laws, including having a referendum however the Minster stated that she thinks the focus should be on crisis pregnancies and lowering the number of teenage crises pregnancies.
The Minster said that doing so would take education on the matter, however it is Minster Frances Fitzgerald who needs to be educated, on how teenagers from Ireland who access abortion in the UK are the minority of the women who travel. These statistics are easily available, the Irish Family Planning Association has them up on their website. https://www.ifpa.ie/Hot-Topics/Abortion/Statistics
Graphics by @jamesfbrophy
Teenagers made up less than 8% of women that travelled last year, and the numbers for the last 12 years show that teenagers have not been the majority.
This is a myth which we must bust, that it is irresponsible young women who have abortions. When the facts are that no contraceptive method is 100% effective and the most recent statics from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service show that more than half of women (54%) who use their services (including women travelling from Ireland) have already given birth.
Even if we did have contraception which was 100% effective there would still be unintended pregnancies, as those who perpetuate sexual abuse do not check to make sure their victims are using contraception and no woman should have to be on contraception just encase they become a victim of sexual abuse.
Even if we could wave a magic wand and every pregnancy would be an intended pregnancy, there are still reasons why abortion maybe needed, due to the risks to a woman’s health not just her life and in cases of Fatal Fetal Abnormalities when a woman does not wish to continue the pregnancy.
We do need a referendum to Repeal the 8th amendment before we can bring in any Abortion Rights, so that women no longer have to travel to the UK, often being separated from family when they need support.
We do need education about all of the many reason’s why abortion is part of health care.
We do need education about how early access to abortion is best for women and the majority of abortions carried out in the UK are before 10 weeks, with the abortion pills which women should be able to access here via their GP.
We do need education to stop the spread of the absurd myth that it is mostly teenagers who access abortion services, esp by our Ministers.
Given the title of this blog, there maybe ancestors spinning in graves down in Kerry, but credit where it’s due.
Late last night during a 5 hour session, in which topics as varied as the lack of librarians to new cycle lanes were tackled after the summer recess, Cork City Council passed a motion to support a referendum to Repeal the 8th amendment to the Constitution.
So 5 hours in to meeting, cllrs have voted to support a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment – the constitutional ban on abortion #corkcc
— Eoin English (@EoinBearla) September 8, 2014
Cork City Council narrowly votes to support a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment on abortion. (12 – 11) #corkcc
— Alan Healy (@AlanHealy) September 8, 2014
The motion was narrowly passed, making Cork City Council the first brave set of counselors to make such a call. Over the last 12 months County Councils all over the country, have passed motions in support of a referendum on Marriage Equality, setting precedent for this type of motion.
The 8th Amendment Article 40.3.3 which is 31 years old restricts doctors from offering health care that women need and has seen over 160,000 women have to travel to the UK and increasingly women risking the 14 years possible jail sentence as laid down in the Protection of Life in Maternity law last year.
The 8th amendment is also responsible for the high court being able to make drastic care orders like those which were imposed on Miss Y. “This amendment is incapable of adaptation to human needs. It’s broken. It’s dead. It needs to come out.” stated Mairead Enright of Lawyers for Choice at a meeting to build a coalition to Repeal the 8th amendment last Saturday, it seem Cork City Council is in agreement with this.
We want to thank those brave, compassionate 12 Councillors who passed this motion and those who voted them into office in the last local election. It is going to take more brave and compassionate people taking action to make this referendum happen, you can take part by signing The Abortion Rights Campaign’s petition to repeal the 8th amendment, by taking the National Women’s Council of Ireland action to contact your TDs telling them you want the 8th amendment repealed and by joining us on the March for Choice on the 27th of September.
We know that our maternity services are dangerously under staffed, we know there are no national polices for screening and there are other national policies which are also lacking. It is not just a case of doctors differ and patients die, it is that depending on where you are in the country, the level of ‘Care’ and the consistency of ‘Care’ varies greatly, even in the same units but from week day to weekend.
But it varies even more so if you are woman who is from a minority in Ireland, this has been born out by the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre Severe Maternal Morbidity Report 2011
“This is a link to the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre Severe Maternal Morbidity Report 2011. Page 10 points out that maternal morbidity (severe maternal medical complications occurring during pregnancy, delivery and the post-natal period) occurred disproportionately among Traveller women and women of colour.
These women also die during pregnancy, delivery and the post-natal period in disproportionate amounts to their representation in the Irish population.
There appears to be no work in progress or completed (or suggested, that I’m aware of) to investigate the causes of this (institutional racism is of course an obvious one, as was apparent in the ‘care’ given to Bimbo Onanuga), and thus no attempts underway to tackle this. ”
All of these women died in a 3 year period, while in the ‘Care’ of our ‘world class’ Maternity services. Their deaths have caused by medical mis adventure, or failure in basic care. I do not think they are the only ones, but these are 4 which we have heard about due to their loved ones insisting on an inquest and investigation.
Ireland is more diverse then it was 15 years ago, but it seems that institutional racism is happening in our health services. I had hoped that we would do better when it came to dealing with people of a range of backgrounds who are here to be part of our society and to raise to have their families.
Aims Ireland has been doing it’s best to point out where our maternity services falls short but it seems that again this is a story which the media is not interested in covering.
Voting is important, the more people in your housing estate which are registered and bother to go and collect a ballot, not matter who they vote for or even if they spoilt the vote, it’s noted. The level of participation does make a difference when it comes to allocating resources. It will take 5 to 10 minutes out of your day to to go trade your polling card for your ballot and then what you do with it, it is up to you.
Even with all the candidates which are running in the 3 regions very few of them are openingly prochoice.
* how ever it seems that the person whom Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan has nominated to take his seat if he can not fill the one in the EU parliament is pro life.
But the garda whistleblower, John Wilson, is happy to chat. Wilson, who underwent bowel cancer surgery in March, had intended to run as a Mingist independent candidate here (there is an actual inky Ming stamp of approval, bestowed on 15 approved local election candidates) but has just withdrawn for health reasons. He remains Ming’s “deeply proud and honoured” first sub for Europe.
“I’m pro-life and anti-drugs – I’d ban tobacco if I could”, says Wilson, “but he still chose me. He’s just a really genuine, decent individual . . .”
If you have any more info about candidates, leave a comment or catch me on twitter.
11am 23/05/2014 Updates
South independant Jillian Godsil
Midlands north west Independant Cordelia Níc Fhearraigh