Solidarity Demo; Letter to Ireland

Prochoice advocates are holding a solidarity demo tomorrow (Wed, 20 Aug) from 8:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. outside the Irish Consulate at 205 Queen Street in Auckland. The demos are to support rallies across Ireland and Europe also on the 20th protesting the latest horrendous case of what can only be considered the torture of a pregnant woman.

Here is a link to the Facebook Event.

Make some signs. Wear some green.

Background Reading:

Irish Times: They said they could not do an abortion. I said, ‘You can leave me now to die. I don’t want to live in this world anymore’

Sunday Times: State denied abortion to rape victim



Letter to the Irish Government

Like most people around the world the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ) was saddened and appalled by the most recent denial of of yet another pregnant person’s reproductive rights. The continued refusal of the current and subsequent Irish governments to do anything more than the bare minimum to ensure access (I.e the right to travel and information) to abortion services is beyond disappointing, it is an infringement on a woman’s human right to health and to be free from torture.

Can you imagine what it must have been like for a young woman to flee persecution in one country only to be confronted with more of the same in a country that was supposed to be a safe haven? To exchange one violation of her body through sexual assault for another form; to have your body commandeered by a government and forced to not only carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, but forcibly fed with liquids, and cut open by a doctor sworn to do no harm. What kind of world are you, the Irish Government, bringing this child into when you absolutely refuse to acknowledge its mother’s basic humanity?

For what purpose and to what end? In the name of preserving some notion of an Irish, postcolonial identity as sanctified in the 1937 Constitution where a woman’s position is clearly defined in relationship to her ability to reproduce the nation: mothers/incubators, not autonomous beings charged with determining their own reproductive destinies. The desire to sustain the nascent Irish state has lead to women’s bodies being a key battle ground for this contestation; to cleanse the liberalising, pro-abortion influences of the British from the Republic. And yet, it would seem the majority of the Irish people have moved on. Year on year, polls produce increasing not decreasing support for access to abortion. Referendums in 1993 and 2002 both failed in their goals of trying to roll back the decision in the X case.

Why is it only politicians who are trapped in anachronistic understandings of reproductive rights? Would the status quo still operate without external forces intervening? It took the European Court of Human Rights and the unnecessary death of Savita Halappanavar to finally bring in legislation around the X case. A full 30 years after the 1983 8th Amendment equated the right to life of the fetus with its mother, and 21 years since the X case when the then Government interned a 14 year old rape victim in the country, refusing her right to travel for an abortion in England. Even the recently passed Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act is badly flawed as suggested by multiple, venerable medical professionals and activists before it was passed. And who is left to bear the brunt of this ineptitude? Pregnant people.

It is time for this to end. No more women should be tortured like this young asylum seeker. Abortion should not just be for those with the privilege and means to be able to access abortion off shore. ALRANZ calls on the Irish Government to do what it should have done 30 years ago- repeal the 8th Amendment. Send the message that you trust women to make decisions about their bodies; not the medical community, not the Catholic Church and not you, the legislators. Repeal, repeal, repeal. It is the only humane option left.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Morgan Healey
On behalf of ALRANZ