Originally published on Sujin
NEWS CENTER- Irish women urged to strike unless Irish Government calls abortion referendum by March 8. Strike 4 Repeal movement urged the public to support the movement on social media. “We have the support of thousands of people in Ireland and the world and the media attention continues to embarrass Ireland. We will strike on the day and more and more people will continue to get involved in the movement, making it even bigger and angrier than before!” said Aoife France from Strike 4 Reveal.
In the previous days, Strike 4 Repeal, an ad-hoc group of activists, academics, trade unionists and artists with previous experience in reproductive health issues to organize a direct action, shared a video on social media and said, “The government has deployed a citizens’ assembly to delay a referendum on the 8th amendment. Meanwhile people’s lives and health are in danger; another person could die at any time. We can’t wait and we won’t wait. We have one demand to the Government, call a referendum before the 8th of March or there will be a national strike. Thousands of people took time off work last year to access abortions; we are asking you to show your solidarity with them. If a referendum is not called then strike. On the 8th of March take the day off work. Don’t do domestic work. Wear black to show your support. We won’t wait.”
‘Women have died and have suffered significant health issues’
A Dublin based activist Aoife Frances from Strike 4 Repeal spoke to our gazette on the 8th amendment and their campaign. She said, “The 8th amendment was inserted into our Irish Constitution in 1983 – it equates the life of a fetus (un-born child) and the life and health of a woman. We have been fighting for decades to remove this amendment and allow legal abortion in Ireland however the state has never moved to make it accessible. In this time women have died and have suffered significant health issues as a result – aside from abortion, the 8th amendment also means that if a person decides to keep a pregnancy, during their maternal care, if any treatment needed by the woman might interfere with the life of the un-born baby the doctors need to consult legal advice or go to court.”
‘Citizen’s Assembly has no legal precedence’
Aoife stated that a Citizen’s Assembly had been formed by the government and the assembly had no legal precedence and added, “It is simply something the government came up with to subdue and attempt to silence activists who are calling for accessible abortion. It is a group of randomly picked people (99 of them) who will meet and be asked what they think about the 8th amendment and abortion in Ireland. The government do not have to take ANY of their recommendations on however – we believe the assembly to be a delaying tactic, in reality the UN Human Rights committee, alongside several other national and international bodies have told Ireland they need to expand the law on abortion and they have not done so. So why would they now listen to a small assembly of 99 people? Why not ask the whole country through a referendum?”
‘Woman forced to give birth’
“The current law on abortion is informed by the 8th amendment in the constitution so our current law called the Protection of life during Pregnancy Act,” said Aoife and continued as follows; “It criminalizes abortion with a 14 year prison term for anyone who has one or helps someone to have one in Ireland. It only allows abortion in extremely rare circumstances, so rare that very few women try this legal route. A few years ago a migrant woman seeking refuge in Ireland who had been raped in her home country tried to access an abortion using the Protection of life during pregnancy law, they refused to grant her it and in the end she went on hunger strike and was force fed and then forced to give birth to the baby at 6 months through a C-section. It is only legal in Ireland to get information about how to travel abroad for an abortion; it is illegal to give information on how to obtain abortion pills on the internet.”
The number of women travelling to UK over for abortions increases day by day. Aoife commented on Brexit and said, “We are unsure what it will mean for women who need to travel since Brexit. But we are very worried about it as 12 women a day travel over for abortions.”
‘We have also been contacted by groups all over the world’
Stating that many organizations in Ireland and in the world supported the movement, Aoife said, “We have received a huge amount of support for Strike4Repeal, some of the main organizations who support us are – The Abortion Rights Campaign, the Anti-racist Network, Need Abortion Ireland. We have also been contacted by groups all over the world – from New York to Berlin to Argentina who are going to do solidarity actions for us on the 8th.
“We are asking the government to give us a date for a referendum before the 8th of March – not to hold a referendum before then. We doubt that they will as they have been so cowardly on the issue so far. They will regret it though – we have the support of thousands of people in Ireland and the world and the media attention continues to embarrass Ireland. We will strike on the day and more and more people will continue to get involved in the movement, making it even bigger and angrier than before!”
Emphasizing that their aim was to get a date for a referendum on repealing the 8th amendment, Aoife said, “A referendum would mean everyone would be asked to vote whether to remove the amendment and expand abortion law in Ireland. We want to remind the government not only that we want and need this change but that we are willing to fight to for it, no matter what it takes.” Aoife urged all women in the world to act in solidarity with them by holding rallies and protests outside Irish embassies all over the world and by spreading and sharing their page and video.