It is all but impossible, both in theory and in practice, to legally obtin an abortion on the island of Ireland, both north and south of the imaginary border that divides this island. It is completely impossible to safely and legally obtain an abortion anywhere in Ireland; the legal framework in the south specifically requires that in order to obtain an abortion without being criminalised for so doing, the woman who needs it must be ill enough to die; thus it is rendered impossible for her to be safe in access to legal abortion.
Drug criminalisation claimed another tragic victim last night 17 May) with the death of 18 year old Ana Hick. From press reports it appears hers was yet another preventable death caused by taking toxic PMMA that is sometimes substituted for MDMA due to prohibition and ruthless gangster capitalism.
On the last day of August 2014, in a ruling the country and the media barely noticed, Mr Justice Ryan in the High Court in Kerry found against Ciara Hamilton and for the HSE in an utterly terrifying moment for every person becoming pregnant or giving birth in Ireland from here on out. Ciara Hamilton had taken a case against the Health Service Executive after the birth of her second child, during which a midwife had, without obtaining consent, broken her waters, leading to an umbilical cord prolapse and an emergency caesarean section.
The breaking of waters during labour, in medical terms, amniotomy or Artificial Rupture of Membranes (ARM), is not recommended best practice precisely because it can lead to a cord prolapse, which is a serious emergency when giving birth as it cuts off the blood flow and air supply to the baby. If the person giving birth is a Strep B carrier, as Ciara Hamilton was, it can also carry an increased risk of Strep B transferring to the newborn and causing serious damage to the baby, as happened to Ciara Hamilton’s child. It is listed as a Do Not Do under NICE recommendations. Despite this, and despite ARM being known to carry dangers and risks to both birthing woman and baby, it is still a widely carried out procedure in many Irish maternity hospitals. In the case of Ciara Hamilton’s birth, it was a procedure carried out by a midwife without seeking consent to do so.
In this society we are told that we have certain rights; the right to vote, the right to protest, the right to bodily autonomy (i.e. the right to decide what happens to our bodies). All of these rights can be taken away in a flash at the whim of those in power. But you cannot take away from a pregnant person that which they don’t have: bodily autonomy.
Abortion is extremely restrictive on this island, with the southern state not acting on the prohibitive legislation that is in place – as was highlighted with Ms. Y in August 2014 – and the northern state only allowing abortion when the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life (read: not health).
Radical health reform, in terms of creating equality and accessibility, and stopping the agenda of privatisation and for-profit medicine, is one of the great challenges facing Irish society.
In this pamphlet, anarchists explain the reasons why such change is needed, give examples of important first steps in creating change, and describe the type of struggle that is necessary if we are going to win.
The healthcare system, upon which people in Ireland depend, is an apartheid system. Simply put, some lives are worth more than others. Rare attempts at reform have been stymied by historic, chronic underspending and vested interests. This legacy has forced the vast majority of working people to take out private health insurance and has laid the foundations for a neo-liberal push towards an American-style system of private medicine.
Despite the “economic miracle” called the Celtic Tiger that has led to Ireland having a higher GNP per head of population than much of the rest of the EU, it lags behind in terms of health outcomes. At age 65 we have the lowest life expectancy in the EU for both men and women. Indeed, the gap between Irish and EU life expectancy has been widening. Infant mortality rates are above the EU average. We have above EU mortality rates for cancer and coronary heart disease. Despite Ireland’s incidence of breast cancer being among the lowest in Europe, the death rate in 2001 from breast cancer was the highest in EU15. To cap it all, we have a widening income gap, which analysis suggests will of itself worsen our health experience since greater inequality is associated with higher mortality rates.
The government plans to force disabled individuals into work. It is set to consider new proposals that would see those receiving Disability Allowance being assessed on their ability to work and forced to work if they are deemed by a government official able to enter full time employment.
This new round of attacks on the most vulnerable in our society have recently been sent to the Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe. The new report which was given to Mr Donohoe last night (23 May) suggests that disability allowances should be slashed in order to cut down on what they call ''welfare dependency'' - a fancy way of construing that some people, who are extremely vulnerable in our society, simply cannot go into paid employment.
Somewhere in the region of 70 people attended an emergency protest yesterday outside Belfast City Hall.
Those present were protesting in favour of free, safe and legal abortion on demand, as early as possible, as late as necessary.
The High Court in Belfast ruled in December that the North's abortion laws are in "breach of human rights".