The anti-choice movements have been repeating over and over the message in recent months that 'abortion is never a treatment for suicidality' This is frequently coupled with citing the realtively low current rate of suicide among pregnant women. But like other myths of the anti-choice movement it has emerged that until abortion became accessible to Irish women, through travelling to the UK, 10% of suicides of women in Ireland were of pregnant women, a figure far in excess of the general population.
Several hundred people took part in a demonstration in Dublin last night (Monday 4 March) demanding the government legislate for abortion access as laid down in the X-Case judgement over 21 years ago. Government after government have refused to introduce this legislation due to politicians own conservatism and their fear of the huge resources of the US funded anti-choice movement. But the massive mobilisations that followed news of the death of Savita Halappanavar after she was refused an abortion in a Galway hospital in the Autumn have forced the Labour Party & Fine Gael to finally begin the process of introducing legislation.
Saturday in Dublin saw another desperate attempt by the anti-choice coalition to prevent legislation coming to the Dail (Irish parliament) to allow abortion where a women's life is under threat. Despite months of preparation, a spend that must have ran close to a million euro, and the parish priest at every mass in the country telling catholics they should attend, less than 15,000 turned up. Compared to the 150,000 women who have had to travel to obtain abortions in the last decades this amounts to almost nothing, a handful of bigots bussed in from all over the country. [Italian translation]
Every now and again something winds you up a little too much and you find yourself being a little obcessive in response. On hearing RTE had reported a daft figure of 8000 as attending tonights anti-choice rally this happened to me. It was very clear this was a massive overestimate but then how to produce an actual calculation of an event in the past. But then the anti-choice movement gave a hand and posted a video of the entire rally, shot it appears from the roof of Buswells.
Something in the region of 2000 people who demand that women in Ireland should have to carry to term unwanted pregnancies in any situation organised a demonstration at the Dail this evening (4th Dec). They were trying to prevent the government legislating for abortion in the very limited circumstances of the X-Case - some 20 years after the Supreme court told them such legislation was required.
Tonights demonstration seems to have united all factions of the anti-choice movement with speakers from both Youth Defence and the Pro Life Campaign. This in itself reveals how paniced they are over the public outrage following the death of Savita after she was denied an abortion in a Galway hospital. The semi spontaneous protests that followed saw well over 25,000 take to the street, over 15,000 on a single demonstration in Dublin alone. A weekend opinion poll showed 85% want X-Case legislation enacted leaving the bigots with a tiny but scary 15% of the population who would sooner see women die than allow abortion.
Fintan O'Toole has an article in the Irish Times answering what he describes as the 5 errors of the 'Crusade against Abortion.' I want to go one further and look at what these errors tell us about the methods of those who want to control women's bodies. And more importantly how it is an error for pro-choice activists to allow the debate to be framed through responses to those errors.
Last night saw hundreds of pro-choice activists blockade the gates of the Dail after TD's once more refused to pass X-case legislation. Twenty years after the X-case and one month after the death of Savita Halappanavar women in Ireland were told once more that the politicians had not had enough time. The political parties, in particular the Labour Party, were once more engaged in a cynical game of playing politics - a game that leaves pregnant women at continued risk in Irish hospitals.
There are some stories that are hard to cover - the death of Savita Halappanavar, a pregnant women, from septicemia whose life might have been saved if an abortion was not delayed is a hard as they come. According to the Irish Times Praveen Halappanavar, the husband of Savita said she had asked for a termination several times over a three day period only to be told "this is a catholic country."
For years we were aware that the failure of successive governments to legislate could result in a tragedy but when the first reports started to circulate that this had happened we were horrified. How did we come to this point?
Anti-choice bigots are going into a frenzy to try and prevent the Irish government legislating for abortion provision in the republic as required by the X and C judgements. But they are ignoring the reality that 1000 plus women are already obtaining abortions in the republic every year and are simply making that decision for themselves. The bigots 'keep Ireland abortion free' crusade was fake even before the opening of Marie Stopes in Belfast, the false slogan is presumably designed to fool the US donors whose donations the bigots salaries and offices depend on. But it is having tragic consequences for women in Ireland as those unable to access abortion pills are left without access to abortion.
Saturday's (July 5th) Youth Defense march in Belfast saw a WSM member arrested for protesting the presence of Michael Quinn, the fascist who told the Sunday World that he would "he would have "no problem" with an Anders Breivik style-massacre" in Ireland. When Quinn was pointed out to stewards on the so called 'Rally for Life' they protected him and allowed him to continue on the march. On Sunday Youth Defence deleted posts of the picture of Quinn on the demonstration from their Facebook page and banned people who posted the picture or demanded to know why they had allowed Quinn to march.