“Regardless of contraception, there will always be women who need an abortion.”
The March for Choice in Ireland takes place on Saturday September 29th at 2pm. Participants will gather at the Spire and march to Merrion Square. Confirmed speakers thus far include Ivana Bacik and Colette Browne.
The March for Choice in Ireland is, according to the website, “a celebration of being pro-choice” or, in organiser Sinead Redmond’s words, a celebration of being “pro-choice and proud”. In particular, the March organisers take offence to the recent Youth Defence Ad Campaign, summing up their disgust with the slogan: “Unlike Youth Defence, I trust women to decide their lives for themselves”.
Cork Feminista is just one organisation around the country supporting the March. Linda Kelly, co- founder of Cork Feminista, explains the frustration that has resulted from almost twenty years of stalling by the Irish government: “The X-case ruling allowed abortions in cases where the woman’s life was in danger, including the risk of suicide, and that’s the discussion that’s mainly taking place at the moment. But abortion is necessary in other circumstances too, and we would like to hear more talk about access to safe and legal abortion for all women.”
Abortion, according to some ethicists like Peter Singer, is an issue that has dominated politics over the last forty years, resulting in a bitter struggle where neither side makes any major progress. He argues that the woman’s life supersedes that of the foetus: after all, it is her body, and therefore her decision. The foetus has no self-awareness and no concept of the future, unlike the woman, and so its right to life is subordinate.
Is abortion inexcusable in today’s society because of the ready availability of contraception? Both Linda and the organisers of the March for Choice in Ireland are vehement in their responses. “Our stance on that contraception comment is that it demonstrates a really basic and widespread ignorance of exactly how contraception functions,” says Sinead Redmond. “Contraception is absolutely not a failsafe. Even in perfect laboratory use conditions, no form of contraception is 100% effective.” Linda and Sinead both also agree on the fact that arguing contraception as a barrier to abortion also wholly ignores those women who are raped and fall pregnant that way.
Sinead Redmond is keen to quash the public perception that new abortion legislation will result in an opening of floodgates and an unprecedented number of abortions. “This is simply not true,” she argues. “Everyone knows that 150,000 women have travelled to England for ‘secret’ abortions since the 1980s. That’s not going to change now. Women who seek abortions are the women who need them.”
Anyone interested in discussing this issue can attend UCC Philosophical Society’s debate – “Is Abortion a Feminist Issue?” – taking place in Boole 1 on Monday October 8th at 7pm.