ROSA activists campaign for a woman's right to choose in Ireland, photo CWI Ireland

ROSA activists campaign for a woman’s right to choose in Ireland, photo CWI Ireland   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Laura Fitzgerald

In October, the Fine Gael-minority led government refused to give a second reading to the AAA-PBP* bill which called for a repeal referendum to the 8th amendment of the Irish constitution (which prohibits women’s abortion rights).The bill was proposed by Socialist Party member Ruth Coppinger TD (MP).

The government has now delayed even an initial debate on the issue at Dáil (parliament) level for at least a year.

The pro-repeal government Independents fell pathetically into line. Sinn Féin supported the bill, but used its speaking time to clarify that it supports very limited legislation, namely the status quo (abortion allowed if life is in danger, including through suicide), plus fatal foetal abnormalities, rape and incest.

In Ireland there has been a clear development of a pro-choice sentiment within society. In poll after poll, two-thirds want increased abortion rights.

All this serves to reinforce the need to build a growing, active, powerful movement outside the Dáil to force through change.

Recently in Poland there was a successful 100,000-strong women’s strike to block the government’s attempt to bring in a full abortion ban.

It’s more than possible to win people over to the notion that, as opposed to the church or state, whether or not to continue with a pregnancy has to be the woman’s own decision.

A bold pro-choice movement, especially a movement that is also raising the need for public housing, for massive investment in state childcare, and for equality generally, will be greeted with solidarity and support from the majority of people.