Anarchism and the fight
for Abortion rights

In Ireland abortion continues to be illegal and women are forced to travel elsewhere. Since the late1980's however a series of struggles have succeeded in forcing the Irish state to drop its ban on abortion information and abandon its attempt at stopping women travelling to Britain for abortions.


General theory

Anarchists and the right to choose
We envisage an anarchist society as a society where people are free to make choices about their own lives. For women, this includes the decision whether or not to become pregnant, whether or not to remain pregnant, whether or not to have children.

Freedom of choice
The Workers Solidarity Movement has always supported a woman's right to control her own body, and have campaigned for this right as part of the pro-choice movement. We believe that control over one's fertility is an essential part of individual freedom.

Pro choice march in Dublin Ireland

Repressing Abortion in Ireland by Mary Favier (Doctors For Choice)
The Republic of Ireland has one of the most draconian abortion laws in the world. At present abortion may only be performed where continuation of pregnancy poses a 'real and substantial' risk to a pregnant woman's life - about 5 cases per year of 50,000 pregnancies


The articles below are in chronological order, starting in 1988

Defying the Hamilton Injunction
The "Defend the Clinics Campaign" is running out of steam. The recent Information Picket on Dublin's O'Connell Bridge attracted only 20 people. Trying to turn this tide is a mammoth task.

Review:Abortion information is illegal
A well written and informative document, we are brought through the recent history of Women's Rights in Ireland, in particular a woman's right to control her own fertility.

Abortion: It's every Womans Right to Choose
Anarchists believe that every woman has the right to choose an abortion when faced with a crisis pregnancy irrespective of the reasons for the abortion. At least 4,000 Irish women have abortions in England every year at present.

The story so far
A review of the fight for abortion rights from 1983 to 1992 focusing on events around the X case in 1992

1992 referendum

Abortion vote
We are being faced with three separate, and each in their own way highly insulting, referenda. These are on the right to Travel, the right to Information and on the right to Abortion in certain very restricted circumstances. Anarchists will be voting Yes to Travel, Yes to Information and No to the so called '"pro-life"' wording.

Anti-abortionists told to SPUC OFF!
Where previously the church was an almost unquestioned authority on moral issues in Ireland, now the positions many Irish people hold on social issues are in direct conflict with the church. The most recent example of this were the abortion referenda held on November 26th, 1992.

Sorting out the vote
It is hard to analyse the most important result from the Referendum, namely the 'substantive issue' or the Abortion Referendum. The Referenda on Travel and Information prove that the 'No, No, No' lobby failed by a decisive amount.

Where were the vanguard?
The Irish Left is very small. However history has shown that it is possible to have influence far out of proportion to your numbers. So what strategy did these highly organised groups committed to fighting for womens' liberation adopt.

Bigots send for sherrif
THE FIGHT between SPUC and the student unions over the provision of abortion information has entered a new phase. SPUC's solicitors, are now seeking costs from the student unions for the earlier stages of the case.

Lies, damned lies and statistics
Never forget that we won the last referenda on abortion rights! Anti-abortion campaigners such as Des Hanafin and SPUC have been trying to rewrite history by claiming that they won, and that the country had voted against abortion.

The Censorship of Abortion Information Act, 1995
In the autumn of 1992, the people of Ireland voted to legalise abortion information. More than two years later, the government has finally introduced a Bill to 'regulate' this information.

Abortion rights [1998]
We had the referendum, so where is the law?

Abortion: the medical procedure that dare not speak its name [1998]
OVER THE SUMMER there were developments in the long struggle over women's rights to control their own bodies.

The United Bigots [2000]
When the 'Northern Ireland Assembly' discussed the issue of abortion in June, the prospect of denying rights to women united politicians right across the so-called 'religious divide'.

Women on Waves (Summer 2001)

WS65 Women on Waves ship at Dublin and Cork

Ireland's silence about abortion was dramatically broken when the Women on Waves ship visited Dublin and Cork.

June 15th - Pro Choice ship arrives in Dublin [with pictures]
For the last few months Irish pro-choice activists including members of the WSM have been preparing for the arrival of the Women of the Waves ship in Ireland.

Irish women - still having to get the abortion boat [May 2001]
A medical ship with a fully functioning operating theatre on board is coming to Ireland in June. The ship will travel to countries like Brazil and the Philippines where abortion is illegal and women are dying as a result of unsanitary and unprofessional backstreet abortions.

The 2002 referendum

On 6th March 2002 there was another referendum, once again aimed at removing the minor advances won at the time of the X-Case. This referendum aimed to rule out the threat of suicide as a reason for women receiving a legal abortion in Ireland. We campaignrf on this referendum as part of the Alliance for A No Vote. We also published articles in Workers Solidarity, 6000 copies of each issue are distributed in Ireland.

Vote No in government's anti-choice referendum (Jan 2002)
As we face into campaigning against yet another abortion referendum we are taking this opportunity to detail why we this is such an important issue for us.

Abortion rights - It's up to you and me (Jan 2002)
Media 'experts' and commentators have been saying that the progressive changes that occurred around contraception, divorce and equal age of consent for gays in Ireland in the early to mid-nineties were a natural result of modernisation of Irish society and occurred because liberal politicians decided to push for these changes. We are supposed to feel that only our rulers can change things, that the rest of us are pretty powerless. Well, it's not true.

An open letter to a Fianna Fáil hypocrite (Jan 2002)
Noel Ahern is the Fianna Fail TD for Dublin North West, and a supporter of the referendum to deny suicidal women with crisis pregnancies the possibility of abortion

Feb 16th - X case march in Dublin - 10 years on [with pictures]
Around 300 people marched through the centre of Dublin on Saturday to mark the 10th anniversary of the 'X' case and to support a No vote in the latest anti-abortion referendum

Feb 14th - Abortion referendum - get involved [with pictures]
On March 6th there will be yet another anti-abortion referendum in the Irish republic, the third since 1983. It is vital we turn out the largest possible pro choice No vote on the 6th.

Government wants to keep exporting women (Nov 2001)
The government is going to have yet another abortion referendum next spring. At present abortion is only allowed in Ireland if the woman is in imminent danger of death because of her pregnancy.

Nov 28 - Alliance for a No Vote Dail picket [with photos]
Fight the governments anti-abortion referendum. Yesterday as the Dail debated the latest anti abortion bill the Alliance for a No Vote (ANV) held a lunch time picket outside.

March 8th - Abortion referendum victory in Ireland
Pro-choice campaigners celebrated throughout Ireland as a referendum which would have further restricted the availability of abortion in Ireland was defeated.

Post referendum

Fight for a women's right to choose [Sept 2003]
Belfast High Court refuses to say when abortion is legal
Dublin - Alliance for Choice launched

Abortion Rights Still Denied [May 2004]
In 1861, abortion was made a criminal offence in Ireland. One hundred and forty three years later the Irish government continues to deny women their right to choice.

Vote against Bertie's bill


Red and Black Ireland

News of Anarchism in Ireland

The Ainriail mailing list carries the latest news from the WSM and the struggles anarchists are involved in. There are never more then 8 posts a week (and normally only 2-4). We post printed articles to it shortly after they are published.

More details!

Policy Paper

Talks given by WSM members

Abortion in Ireland - Historical Perspective and current campaigning

Abortion was totally illegal in Ireland under all circumstances until the Supreme Court judgement in the "X" case earlier this year, which seems to permit abortion in the extremely limited case of threatened suicide by the mother. The 1861 Offences against the Persons Act states that any person "performing, attempting and or assisting in an abortion is liable to penal servitude for life".

International backlash against abortion

In America the supreme court recently voted by 5 judges to 4 to enforce a restrictive Pennsylavania law which requires a mandatory waiting period foe women seeking abortions and forces teenagers to inform their parents of their intentions to have an abortion. The ruling was greeted with the headline in Village Voice "Court to women : Drop Dead".

Related Articles

Church power in the south...

The Catholic church in Ireland has always been massively supported by the State and allowed a huge say in the running of the country. This article will attempt to cover the facts of church power in Ireland and the long history of State support beginning hundreds of years be fore the establishment of the 26 county state

The not very 'natural' oppression of women

In the majority of societies half our species (women) has been held in an inferior position to the other half (men). Why is this the case? The answer to this question should explain two things. It should explain why today with all our equal rights legislation women are still second class citizens, and secondly it should indicate the mechanisms and tactics we have to use to achieve womens' liberation.

Equality for some women?

It isn't sexism that holds us in the worse paid jobs but rather the economic reality of the capitalism system. To survive in the market place any company has to be competitive, to maximise profits. In todays society, creches and child-care are a luxury that the profit motive can rarely afford.

see also the Anarchism and Womens liberation index


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