The moment anyone with a womb steps onto Irish soil, their human rights are affected.
This is not an exaggeration. In fact the UN has said – consistently – that Ireland is violating Human Rights with its ‘cruel and inhumane’ laws on reproductive rights.
For in Ireland – North and the Republic – abortion is illegal in almost every circumstance and anyone who procures an abortion can receive a far higher sentence than, say, a rapist does.
In the Republic of Ireland this is because of the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution, which gives an embryo equal rights to that of a woman. In Northern Ireland the 1967 Abortion Act was never introduced which means its harsh abortion laws are at odds with the rest of the UK.
In reality, the State knows that people from Ireland have abortions – making abortion illegal doesn’t stop it happening, it just increases the trauma, risk and suffering of all involved. It’s a well-known fact that over 10 women a day travel to England, Scotland or Wales from Ireland to have an abortion.
The unfairness stings – you can’t afford the €2,000 it often costs to get an abortion in England? Then you’re going to have to afford to bring up a child, regardless of your circumstances. Can’t take more than a day off work? Get the first cheap flight over and hope that you’re not bleeding when you’re on the last flight back.
While the news that Northern Irish women will receive terminations on the NHS is very welcome, it still doesn’t tackle the harsh reality for Irish women in the Republic, or the fact that there are many other costs involved (travel, accommodation, time off work to leave the country) and for some, being able to leave at all is impossible.
However, a battle is currently raging in our happy-go-lucky island. We are angry. We’ve had enough. Our citizens are not vessels but capable people who can and should be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies.
The Scottish Irish Abortion Rights Campaign, alongside a number of collaborative groups in Ireland and around the world, is working to change this. We want women and pregnant people in Ireland to be trusted to make their own decision about what is right for them.
Why should I have a say over your family planning and reproductive choices? I shouldn’t. The state shouldn’t. The person most qualified to make this decision is the person who’s experiencing it.
The first step is to acknowledge there’s a problem, the second to fix it.. and that’s what we’re here to do.
Written by Zoe, SIARC co-ordinator. Jan 2018