Campaigning for legal abortion in Ireland, photo by Rosa

Campaigning for legal abortion in Ireland, photo by Rosa   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Keishia Taylor, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland) and ROSA in Dublin

The historic referendum to repeal the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution, which equates to an almost complete ban on abortion, takes place on 25 May. Irish citizens will vote ‘Yes’ for a progressive future where the right to choose is finally recognised by Irish law, or ‘No’ for a society still in the shadow in the repressive, misogynist Catholic church.

The militant, youthful feminist movement fighting for repeal is breaking with the repression of the past. At every turn, the political establishment has opposed abortion rights, and tone-policed and smeared the pro-choice movement.

They tried to avoid holding a referendum at all. Then they attempted to water down pro-choice demands to permit abortion only in the ‘hard cases’ like fatal foetal abnormalities and rape.

‘ROSA – Socialist Feminist Movement’, an organisation in which Socialist Party activists including Ruth Coppinger TD (member of parliament) play a leading role, has been extremely significant in putting forward an uncompromising pro-choice position.

We have brought to the fore the issue of safe medical abortion pills, proving that abortion happens daily, despite the ban. This pulled the referendum towards the issue of the right to choose.

Youthful energy and excitement for a Yes vote is the dominant mood, particularly in Dublin. There is huge support for repeal among young people, women, LGBT+ and working class people.

However, the most backward of anti-choicers, sensing their control of women slip, are exposing their aggressive side. The latest polls suggest a victory for the pro-choice campaign over the sexist abortion ban, but we cannot be complacent and will be campaigning until the polls close.

Winning abortion rights would be a huge victory. It would deal a significant blow to the conservative, repressive church and capitalist establishment, and be a step towards a complete separation of church and state.