This year Belfast saw its largest pro-choice demonstration when about a thousand people took to the streets for the Rally for Choice. This was a significant achievement and to mark it we’ve put together this brief documentary featuring footage from the march, some of the speakers and interviews with both organisers and participants.
2nd February to mark St Bridget’s feastday performances were staged in public settings across Ireland and London renouncing Ireland's anti-abortion laws. St Bridget is one of four Irish saints who “are recorded as openly and miraculously carrying out abortions”, the feast day was the pre-Christian festival of Imbolg (meaning ‘in the belly’).
We recorded the event at Connolly station in Dublin, the performance as you’ll see in the video collectively confronts the themes of censorship, self censorship through art, action, performance, conversation and camradery. The location at Connolly is one of the transport hubs through which many of the 12 people who have to leave Ireland every day to access abortion in the UKL and beyond pass.
Dublin city centre came to a halt Saturday 26th September as thousands of people marched for choice and against Ireland's anti-women law that would jail people who access abortion here for up to 14 years.
The key demand is to Repeal the 8th Amendment which was passed at the height of clerical control back in 1983. So long ago that nobody who voted on it would now be in a position to even become pregnant. More that 2/3rd of the population want abortion to be decriminalised, only 25% want the current criminalisation to remain yet Enda Kenny has announced he has no intention of introducing a referendum to Repeal the 8th.
A large number of Garda made arrests towards the end of a pro-choice rally in Dublin this evening. Three pro-choice campaigners were arrested, at least one of them was pepper sprayed when they were already on the ground.
A couple of hundred people came to the pro choice solidarity rally in Dublin last night. It was called to protest against the prosecution of a women in Belfast for supplying her daughter with the abortion pill.
Banners reading Drop The Charges and Free Safe Legal Abortion had been prepared the previous evening for the protest which had been called by the Workers Solidarity Movement and (Re)al-Productive Health. There were speakers from both these organisations but also from the Abortion Rights Campaign and ROSA whose banners were also brought to the protest.
The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) revealed yesterday (16 Dec 2014) that over the last 12 months alone they have seen 26 asylum seekers or women with travel restrictions who indicated they wanted an abortion but were unable to travel abroad. At least 5 of those women were forced to continue the pregnancy to term.
In mid August the story emerged that a suicidal migrant who was pregnant as the result of rape was forced to continue the pregnancy for weeks after requesting an abortion despite both a failed suicide attempt and a hunger and thirst strike. After been forcible rehydrated she 'agreed' to a C-section as an 'alternative' to the abortion she had first requested 8 weeks into the pregnancy. (See www.wsm.ie/migant-x for more details).
Thousands of people took part in demonstrations against her terrible treatment across Ireland, treatment that reflected the racist patriarchal authorisation nature of the Irish state. Astonishingly the forced birth brigade rather than maintaining a shamed silence actually protested that the state had not forced her to continue the pregnancy to its conclusion.
Saturday 23 August saw a second large pro choice 'Our Bodies Our Rights: Rally to Repeal the 8th Amendment' march through Dublin bringing the number who took part in emergency mobilisations in Dublin alone over 3,000.
In reaction to our outrage at the state force feeding a women in order to compel her to give birth against her wishes Minister Charlie Flanagan has declared "There doesn't appear to be an appetite for a further referendum" (Transcript)
It's hard to imagine a worse way to dismiss holding a referendum to Repeal the 8th Amendment. It was the 8th amendment (along with the states racist treatment of migrants) that led to the force feeding of the migrant women who had been raped, was suicidal and wanted an abortion. Instead she was forced through an additional 23 weeks of pregnancy and force fed when she stopped eating & drinking. This barbaric treatment eventually lead to her 'agreeing' to a C-section.
This is as complete a story about what happened to 'Migrant X' that we are aware of. Migrant X is a young migrant women who it emerged was refused an abortion by the Irish state despite apparently meeting the grounds of the X-case legislation and instead forced to carry the pregnancy and agree to a C-section. The pregnanacy itself was the result of rape, Migrant X attempted suicide after being refused the abortion and later went on a hunger and thirst strike. Once what had happened to her became known there were sizeable pro-choice solidarity demonstrations called across Ireland and at Irish embassies overseas.
We have been given information that the migrant woman at the centre of the current forced pregnancy was 'committed' to a psychiatric hospital following her initial request for termination. It’s already known that the initial request was made when she was 8 weeks pregnant. It was this crucial period in which she was being held incommunicado which led directly to the Caesarian option being possible to impose as an ‘alternative’ to allowing her to access the abortion she had asked for.