With the referendum on the 8th amendment in Ireland drawing closer we look back at the role the IRSP in this debate. In the Irish Republican Socialist Parties first ever Ard Fheis in 1975, delegates voted for the party to campaign for abortion services to be made available for women in Ireland. This Historic decision made the IRSP one of the first political parties in Ireland to publicly call for women’s access to abortion.
Since then there has been no change in the party’s policies and we stand by this decision today. This decision came amidst a long debate on women’s emancipation at the Ard Fheis which highlighted the repression and discrimination of women along with the suppression of the role of women in history. This led to the party passing a resolution demanding social, economic, political and sexual rights for women in which abortion rights where included. This highlights the absolute importance the IRSP gives to the emancipation of woman as part of the struggle for socialism. This is a position strongly advocated by James Connolly who stated, “The worker is the slave of capitalist society, and the female worker is the slave of that slave.”
The referendum on the 25th of May Ireland to further the rights of women in a society which still has is a chance for the people of massive gender inequalities. The question of class must also not be ignored in this debate. Working class women suffer disproportionately from the lack of access to abortion services.
While some women can afford to travel to England to acquire these services, many women simply cannot afford this option and often turn to unsafe methods instead. This debate has been an emotional and thought provoking one for all sides. It is however discouraging to see that so many seemingly have no trust in women to decide what is best for their bodies. After all what this referendum is really about, is giving every individual woman the right to make their own choice on whether or not to have an abortion.
As socialists we support the right of women to decide their own destinies. We understand that the emancipation of women will never precede a revolution that destroys the institutions and system that oppress women. But we hope that this referendum will be a small blow to that system that will inspire women across the Island.