IRSP on the Right to Choose

IRSP on the Right to Choose
30th November 2012

At the Irish Republican Socialist Partys first Ard Fheis in 1975, we were the first political party in Ireland to support a woman’s right to control her own body and choose abortion, a position unanimously reaffirmed by delegates to this year’s Ard Fheis. We call for immediate legislation to make abortion available, free of charge and on demand, through the health services on both sides of the border. We believe that any position short of that is insufficient and reactionary in 2012.

Historically, women were viewed as the property of first their fathers and then their husbands. They had no authority over their own bodies, and they were taught that their highest duty was to reproduce, regardless of their own wishes. This view persists today, where paternalistic states, supported by reactionary religious bodies, pass laws to control what women can and cannot do with their own bodies. The right to choose abortion is the right of a woman to have sovereignty over her own body, and to make decisions and choices about her body. Neither church nor state has a role to play in regulating women’s bodies.

We believe it is a sad indictment of Irish society in 2012 that a woman’s right to choose is still being denied. Every week almost one hundred women are forced to leave this island under a cloak of secrecy to receive a medical procedure that should easily be carried out, free from society’s imposed shame, in any hospital in Ireland.

The death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway in October should never have happened. Despite her desperate appeals for an abortion during a miscarriage, she was denied the procedure and she died. We support a woman’s right to choose abortion. It’s not enough to only theoretically allow it when the woman’s life is at risk. If a woman’s right to control her body and make medical decisions is to mean anything, she must have the right to choose abortion under any circumstances.

We also believe that contraception must be available to all women, free and on demand, so that they have complete control over their reproductive choices. To those who oppose both abortion and contraception, we say that you are hypocrites whose anti-woman agenda is plain to see.

The right to choose an abortion and determine one’s own future is part of a much larger struggle to empower women to take control of their own destinies and destroy the contradictions in Irish society that do not allow women to legally choose an abortion. Women must have this choice. We must struggle to win this right, and redress the imbalance in power between the genders, as these are battles in our war to separate church and state, and create a truly democratic, equal, and secular society.

As revolutionary socialists, we recognize that this requires more than just reform, it also requires a revolutionary change in society. Full gender liberation for all people can only happen if existing social institutions are abolished and the archaic values they represent are swept aside with them.

Reactionary religious institutions have exerted their influence to oppose the reproductive rights of women, be it contraception or abortion. Women must be free from the imposition of reactionary beliefs, and the state should not exist to impose religious diktat on anyone. An oppressive agenda towards women is very much in play in Ireland, with the Catholic Church, right-wing political parties, and the reactionary elements within Irish society preparing for a battle that, if won, would even further stagnate the struggle for woman’s liberation in Ireland. All progressive forces in Ireland must come together to oppose this reactionary agenda.

The IRSP supports a woman’s right to choose abortion on demand, and we call for legislation on both sides of the border to recognise this right.