Ireland has failed when it comes to women’s healthcare. On May 25th it ‘s time for a change.
As you read this, around 10 women will travel from Ireland today to the UK and other countries to seek a termination. Some will have family support. Some will be completely alone. Some will have the money to ensure they can stay overnight in the UK in case anything goes wrong. Others will have to fly back home on the same day hoping airport security won’t notice they are in agony and stop them from flying. At the same time, 3 women in Ireland will take abortion pills sourced from the internet -alone and unsupervised. Unable to seek medical treatment when the pain and bleeding get too much for fear they will be prosecuted. This is the reality for women living in the Republic of Ireland in 2018. But this coming Friday, there is a chance to shape the future for the better. Irish voters will be asked whether they want to legalise abortion for up to 12 weeks. And I for one, hope it will be a resounding yes.
Currently, the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution states that the unborn child has an equal right to life to that of the mother. In the Republic of Ireland, abortion is only allowed when the life of the mother is at risk, which includes suicide. This, however, is not an easily applicable law. As we saw with the 2014 case of a young suicidal refugee woman seeking asylum in Ireland, raped in her home country and ordered by an Irish court to continue with her pregnancy to 25 weeks and then forced to undergo a c-section. This young woman, who had come to Ireland to find sanctuary, is said to have asked for a termination when she found out she was 8 weeks pregnant with her rapist’s child. Instead of protecting her, the law failed this young woman. Her life, health and well-being were not a priority under the 8th amendment. This has to change.
The 8th amendment has not prevented Irish women from accessing abortions. It has made them unsafe. The 8th amendment pushes abortion underground or exports it to the UK or other European countries. The 8th amendment means medical staff cannot take care of women. They too face jail for up to 14 years if they contravene the 8th. The 8th amendment leaves women isolated, traumatised and often without access to post-abortion health care. Legalising abortion in Ireland will not see women using abortion as a form of contraception as the anti-choice and forced pregnancy campaign so regularly claim. Abortion is a very difficult and personal choice. Each case is different. Abortion isn’t something women and girls have on their bucket lists. Women have terminations for so many difficult and personal reasons. Women should be able to access this basic right to health care for their own bodies at home without fear of going to jail.
This Friday’s vote is about equality of bodily autonomy, compassion and human decency. The underlining questions facing Irish citizens on Friday are do you trust women to make decisions about their own health and well-being. Or do you want to continue to force women to seek illegal and unsafe abortions?
I have been living outside of Ireland for longer than the 18 month limit and therefore am ineligible to vote. So, to the Irish people who still can, please vote with compassion. For your sisters, mothers, girlfriends, wives, daughters and the women in your lives- please vote yes. Please vote to repeal the 8th amendment.
On the death of Dame Tessa Jowell, Brussels Labour would like to make the following statement.
I know I speak for all of us in expressing our sadness following the announcement of the passing of Tessa Jowell. Tessa fought to the end as she had throughout her life, with courage and determination.
She was a great parliamentarian, a great constituency MP and a great campaigner. She will be sorely missed by the Labour movement.
Brussels Labour welcomes a guest post from the I vote where I live campaign.
We are a group of European citizens from different EU countries, living in Brussels. In 2016 we got together to create the I vote Where I Live campaign. We all are interested in politics, not only in our countries of origin but also in this city that we call home. Nearly 250,000 Europeans are affected by local policies in the 19 communes of Brussels. We believe it is important that all residents of Brussels are engaged in Brussels’ local politics, and even more so with municipal elections on the agenda this year.
Our group’s primary objective is to raise the awarenessof European residents to the political and institutional life of the territory and facilitate their integration and active participation in the Brussels communes, in line with the rights provided by European citizenship. We believe that the city of Brussels, for its history of diversity and its role in the European construction, is a privileged laboratory for an innovative and inclusive notion of political citizenship.
We consider participation in the local elections in the 19 communes of the Brussels-Capital Regions an important step towards better integration of European citizens and the emergence of a sense of community and belonging. We want to actively contribute to developing joint answers to local issues.
We have identified two main obstacles for Europeans for voting in the local elections, which our campaign seeks to tackle:
Awareness (of the institutional set-up of federal, regional, and local authorities, as well as the political issues on the table)
Logistics (which voting rights, procedures for registration etc.)
We are not starting from zero as a group. Already in June 2017, we created a Facebook page, I Vote Where I Live, with currently around 260 likes and followers, “and counting”. Within this group, we have already organised several events, for instance, on the rise of populism across different countries, on mobility in Brussels and a series of events called “Belgium for Dummies” where we address the questions of foreigners on how Brussels and Belgium work and what needs to be done to vote in October. Events were attended by between 40 and 80 participants.
Commune elections in Belgium are coming up on 14 October. There’s no more direct means of being politically active than putting a cross in a box and it’s a great way to show that you’re integrated in Belgium 😉 Take a look at the commissioner.brussels website to see how you (or a friend) can register. Make sure you sign up by 31 July!