Don't give the maternity hospital to the nuns - Holles Street Protest! We own our hospitals.

Date:

Protests took place across Ireland Saturday 22nd April to protest the plan by Health Simon Harris to give the new maternity hospital, which will cost 300 million to build, to the same nuns who ran the Magdeline laundaries!  The Sisters of Charity ran the Drumcondra and Sean MacDermott Street laundaries where expectant and recent mothers were essentially imprisoned and required to provide free labour that the numns profited from.  It's hard to imagine a more unsuitable institution to run a maternity hospital, all the more so when you realise that to this day catholic ran hospitals refuse to provide the full range of medical care to pregnant people.

As a Parents for Choice speaker said at the protest (video below) "Many of us in Parents for Choice are unmarried mothers. Many of us in Parents for Choice gave birth in this hospital. It is not long ago that women like us would have been locked up by this order of nuns. Religious orders like the Sisters of Charity imprisoned women like us, used them for profit, while their babies were malnourished, stolen, sold to the highest bidder, or ended up dead in septic tanks."

A large crowd gathered near Holles street maternity hospital in Dublin as similar protests were taking place elsewhere in the country.  The bulk of the crowd were parents and their childern and they harad a number of speakers including Father Ted writer Graham Linehan who talked about  about how he felt guilty about moving his family to Ireland when he realised that he'd moved to a country that did not take womens reproductive health seriously. 

Other speakers were from Parents for Choice, the Anti-Racist Network and political parties.  Video's of some of the speeches are below.

Parents for Choice

We are Parents for Choice and we campaign for choice in pregnancy and childbirth. Our aim is to highlight the unique way the 8th amendment impacts on us as parents and on our families, whether we wish to continue a pregnancy or not. Parents for Choice oppose the eighth amendment, and we reject the conservative Catholic ethos that inspired it.

The 8th amendment and those who support it have had a toxic effect on how we and our families experience both wanted and unwanted pregnancies. It has negatively impacted how we are treated when we access maternity services and maternity hospitals. The 8th amendment has resulted in the cruel treatment of countless women from Sheila Hodgers, to Savita Hallapanavar, to Miss C and Miss Y.  As a result of the 8th amendment, women continue to be denied choices every day in our hospitals.

Parents for Choice are campaigning for progress, for our freedom to make choices in our own interests and that of our families, and for the humane and fair treatment of anyone experiencing pregnancy in Ireland. This recent decision by the state to grant complete ownership to the Sisters of Charity of our National Maternity Hospital, continuing decades of church ownership of our healthcare and other vital state-funded services, flies in the face of progress. Surely at this point as a nation we should improve, not regress. We should develop, not deteriorate.

The order of nuns, the Sisters of Charity, who have been offered this hospital ran Magdalen laundries. They have refused to fulfill their promise to the state redress scheme for those incarcerated in their laundries and they are highlighted as owing 3 million euro to the redress scheme following the Ryan report. It is a gesture of huge disrespect to survivors of those institutions, and to the people of Ireland, that the perpetrators of this historical abuse against women and children should be given such authority in our maternity care.

Many of us in Parents for Choice are unmarried mothers. Many of us in Parents for Choice gave birth in this hospital. It is not long ago that women like us would have been locked up by this order of nuns. Religious orders like the Sisters of Charity imprisoned women like us, used them for profit, while their babies were malnourished, stolen, sold to the highest bidder, or ended up dead in septic tanks. And now our government wants to simply give them a hospital. A hospital for women like us to birth in. We say no. We may need a new National Maternity Hospital, but there is a better choice than this.

While Simon Harris and Rhona O’Mahoney claim that the State will ensure the autonomy of the new hospital, even the former master of this hospital Peter Boylan has gone on the record to say that he cannot see how a hospital will be able to provide, for example, IVF or medically-advised abortions while owned by the Sisters - if it does, it will be the only Catholic-owned hospital in the world to do so. The order’s own St Vincent’s hospital does not permit performing vasectomies or female sterilization because of its ethos, while the also Catholic-owned Mater will not stock contraceptive pills for similar reasons.

Yesterday the board of St. Vincent’s said that they're reviewing the status of the entire National Maternity Hospital project in the light of the minister's statements and other “controversy”. It is very unclear what this means for the future of the hospital.

None of this inspires confidence that we will get a National Maternity Hospital that will be the truly independent institution we and our families deserve, even if we manage to remove the eighth amendment, one that will offer us real choices, and will ensure that in its care we are valued as human beings rather than vessels for childbirth.

We are parents, we are users of maternity services, we do not want our maternity hospitals owned by a group with such a history of how it treats women and babies. For our children and ourselves, we will take back our hospitals and we will take back control over our births and our bodies.

 

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Anti-Racism Network

ARN statement text "The Anti-Racism Network is here today standing for Reproductive Justice for ALL women, trans and non-binary people in Ireland including migrants and asylum seekers, regardless of their legal status.

The announcement that the new maternity hospital would be run by the Sisters of Charity is truly infuriating, but it is not surprising. This is just one more in long, continuous history of ways in which the State shirks their basic duty of care to the people. We can cite examples of this for days, including mother and baby homes, the 8th amendment and the racist system of direct provision. The list goes on and on.

Once again the State is abdicating their responsibility and outsourcing it to a church with a long track record of racist and misogynist violence. And it’s not that this abdication of responsibility just isn’t good enough, which of course it’s not, but it is the State actively participating, colluding in pain and suffering and even death.

So let us not forget the thousands of women who were forced to work in Magdalene laundries; let us not forget the countless brown and black children who suffered horrific racist abuse at the hands of these same people; let us not forget a brown skinned migrant woman named Savita who walked into a Galway hospital and was refused a life saving abortion after being told that Ireland is a Catholic country. Let us not forget."

Graham Lenehan

Writer Graham Linehan spoke at the protest. Graham talks about how he felt guilty about moving his family to Ireland when he realised that he'd moved to a country that did not take womens reproductive health seriously. There is also a Father Ted joke.

Repeal project

The speaker from the Repeal Project was reacting to bad news that the Citizen Assembly appeared to be opting for changing rather than repealing the 8th amendment.  The following day it looked like the recommendation would be a lot better.

Choice Ireland

Choice Ireland looked at the terrible record of the Sisters of Charity that makes them so unsuitable to be the owners of the maternity hospital.  "Minister, with a maternity hospital, the interests of the women you need to worry about are not nuns".

Choice Singers - Talking about a Referendum

The Choice singers sung this piece themed off 'Talking about a Revolution'.

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