Support the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast


The opening of the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast is a positive step forward for women’s rights and continuing battle for abortion services in Ireland.  While the 1967 Abortion Act has still not been extended to Northern Ireland due to an alliance of reactionary conservative forces from our local sectarian parties to the Churches.  This means that abortions can be carried out only to preserve the life of the mother, or if continuing the pregnancy would have other serious, permanent physical or mental health effects. There is strict assessment regarding any impact on mental well-being and the woman must consult with two clinicians.

The Marie Stopes clinic has said it will carry out medical, not surgical, procedures only up to nine weeks' gestation and only within the existing legal framework.  It said that the health professionals in the clinic will be from Northern Ireland and that they will make the assessments, although the views of the woman's own GP will be taken into consideration. The clinic's services will also be available to women from the Republic of Ireland, if they meet the legal criteria in Northern Ireland.

Contrary, to media reports the clinic will not just offer abortion access but provides a range of services and counselling from contraception to sexual advice.

As anarchists we believe the struggle for women’s right to choose is part of larger fight for greater control over our lives free from the state and church. It is also a class issue because the denial of free access to abortion in Ireland both North and South particularly affects working class women who are forced in travel abroad. However, private clinics are no long term solution to free, safe abortion on demand starting with the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. The opening of this clinic will serve to highlight and challenge the ambiguous nature of the current legislation.

The WSM has been active in pro-choice struggles over the last decade. In our position paper on Abortion rights we believe:

‘Women's biology, pregnancy and child-bearing has copper-fastened our inferior position in capitalist society. This has been extended so that we are also stuck with child rearing and child-minding within the family. Therefore women's access to work, education, leisure and any chance of self-advancement has been strictly limited. This is especially true for working class women.

Women have always tried to control their own fertility. Anti-abortion laws have resulted in back-street abortions and induced miscarriages. World-wide, one woman dies from a back-street abortion every three minutes. Winning full control over our own fertility is an essential step towards ending women’s' oppression. The technology has been developed under capitalism to make this both safe and possible. Women must have the right to use this technology to decide if and when to have children.

We support a woman's access to full, free and safe contraception. If she finds herself pregnant but does not wish to have a child then she should have access to free, safe abortion on request.

We believe in real options and real choices for women. A woman who wants to have a child shouldn't have to spend the rest of her life looking after it. This is why we favour the option of full child-care provision paid for by the state, maternity leave and flexi-time for working, public crèche facilities and restaurants. The present role of many women as full-time unpaid child-minders within the family must be ended.

A woman who finds herself pregnant and does not wish to remain so should have a right to free, safe abortion on demand. This is not an abstract political slogan, we don't go around shouting "free abortion on demand" in the belief that it can only be gained in the context of a socialist revolution. We believe that it is merely one of the basic first steps in freeing women from the constraints placed on us by capitalism.’

Over the coming days, weeks and months the anti-choice lobby will be out in force to oppose the clinic. It is important that we rally behind this clinic and show our support.

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A recent decriminalise abortion demo in Belfast.