Twenty years ago there was a case in Ireland were a fourteen year old girl became pregnant after being raped by her neighbour. The High Court prevented her from travelling to England for an abortion. Two weeks on after a public outcry at this decision, the Supreme Court allowed her to the right to an abortion in England on the grounds that there was a danger to her life because of the risk of suicide. This case was called the X Case.
Twenty years on from this, Socialist Party/United Left Alliance (ULA) TD Clare Daly proposed a Bill to the Dail to legislate for the X Case. It was entitled Medical Treatment (Termination of Pregnancy in Case of Risk to life of Pregnant Women) Bill 2012. This Bill last April was defeated.
Currently the law concerning this area is such a legal quagmire that doctors are unclear of the circumstances under which a woman should be entitled to have an abortion in Ireland both North and South. This leads to a situation were women who are already facing the difficulty of carrying a pregnancy that presents a risk to their life are forced to experience the added trauma of having to travel outside of the State to receive abortion services a position that they can’t always afford to do so.
There will be a pro-life rally in Belfast on the 7th July which will further victimise women who have made or are in the process of making the difficult decision of whether to terminate a pregnancy. The Socialist Party will be part of staging a counter rally which is pro-choice.
The Socialist Party believes all women in Ireland should be given the immediate right to access free, safe and legal abortion provided through a public service with access to appropriate counselling services.
The State does not have the right to dictate to women when and if they should have children. The State’s decision to ban abortion just creates a class divide in access to safe abortion.
The average cost for a woman to travel to England for an abortion including travel costs is estimated to be in excess of £2000. Money many women can’t get hold of in time causing the stress of a later abortion, an unwanted child being born or one that the mother can’t afford to bring up or an unsafe backstreet abortion.
Many women’s choices to have children are affected by the capitalist system’s austerity cuts that cause poverty, low pay, unemployment, cuts in benefits, expensive childcare etc.
Women need to be supported in their struggle to defend their rights in their choice of whether and when to have children or not. A fight that the unions should also be taking up.