Miss D, the right to choose and the WSM


The 'Miss D' case put in context with the struggle in Ireland for women to have full control over their own bodies and the position taken by the WSM on this issue. A few weeks ago, a 17 year old girl, 4 months pregnant, known as 'Miss D' was brought before the courts to determine whether or not she should be allowed to travel to England for an abortion. The baby she was carrying had been diagnosed with anencephaly, a condition that leads to still-births. The longest an infant has survived outside the womb with this condition is a few days. Yet the Irish government were unwilling to let Miss D have an abortion, denying Miss D's basic human rights under the guise of 'letting the baby die with dignity'.

This case not only outraged thousands of people all over the country but added more fuel to the fire of the abortion debate. Pro-Choice supporters rallied outside the Four Courts during the days of the hearing, voicing their concerns alongside religious pensioners preaching the evils of abortion. Once again, these self proclaimed 'Pro-Lifers' completely missed the point.

Over the past two decades, Ireland has seen many clashes over the abortion debate. We have all seen the Pro-Life people stand outside the GPO at stalls with graphic placards depicting babies in the womb and the post-operation foetuses. In Ireland, women are still being oppressed, as it is our decision what we do with our bodies and the government still deny us the whole choice. It is our decision whether or not we want to have children, no one objects to that. Whereas if a woman in Ireland is pregnant and wishes to terminate that pregnancy, for whatever reason, she must travel abroad. To deny a woman the right to choose what to do with her body is to deny her a basic human right. The time has come for change.

The Workers Solidarity Movement has always supported the right for a woman to have full control over her own body, and has campaigned for this right as part of the Pro-Choice movement. Control over one’s fertility is part of individual freedom. Something to which the government claims everyone is entitled. Yet the draconian laws stay in place. There are many women in Ireland who can’t afford to travel for an abortion, so they opt for the ‘back street surgery’ which is extremely dangerous and leads to infection, disease and death. World-wide, one woman dies from a back street abortion every 3 minutes.

For years now, the battle has raged for women to have full control over their fertility. Miss D being allowed to travel for an abortion was a victory for the movement. However, women in Ireland are still being denied their rights by draconian anti-abortion laws, put in place by a government that won’t even lift heavy taxes on contraception. The WSM believe that all women are entitled to full, free and safe contraception, and if a woman wishes to have an abortion, then she is entitled to a safe abortion without having to leave the country. We continue to take this fight forward in Ireland, along with Pro-Choice groups. In the case of Miss D, the battle was won, but the war is not over.