The Trade Union Campaign to Repeal the 8th Amendment held a press conference today in Bushwells to launch their campaign which received a lot of media coverage, Newstalk have a particularly good piece on it. This event was timed to coincide with a published letter to the Irish Times signed by several prominent members of a wide range of trade-unions calling for union involvement in the campaign to repeal the 8th amendment.
A member of UY-DAG spoke at the press conference today and her speech is available below:
My name is Laura Duggan. I am a proud member of the Unite Youth Committee and ICTU youth committee. The reason I joined Unite is because I believe Trade unions are at their core political organisations.
They fight for the rights of their members and by extension for the rights of all workers and potential workers in Ireland. This fight has begun to and needs to extend beyond the workplace and into society at large. Last Saturday we saw how powerful this can be with the the right2water campaign that had thousands of people out in their local communities protesting the double taxation of water.
Its important to remember that the majority of trade union members are women and while unions are becoming more inclusive, every trade union general secretary and the vast majority of executives are male. The fight for a woman’s right to choose has been ignored for decades with many unions remaining conspicuously quiet on the resurgence of the issue of repeal. Repeal of the 8th amendment is a class issue, a workers issue and ultimately a union issue.
Predominantly it is working class, migrant and lower paid women that are affected and the 8th amendment not only prohibits women from accessing a basic and routine medical procedure but also denies them autonomy over their own lives, health, and future; be it based on economic or life goals in a way no other segment of society is denied.
Abortion saves lives. But women shouldn’t have to be at deaths door before they can access it. The present legislation does nothing to acknowledge the variety of reasons women seek abortion and only pushes them out of the of the country and Irish healthcare system to access it.
Women who do have abortions abroad do not make use and often don’t know that free post abortion medical exams and counselling are available here. Also due to the illegality of abortion, except for within very strict parameters, women do not know if they can go to a hospital to seek aid if there is a complication.
Abortion stigma is perpetuated by the law and forces women into unsafe or hidden abortions especially when they cannot cross the barriers in place to access care abroad and when these ignored and forgotten women are desperate or brave enough to follow through on their choice with pills at home, they will run the risk of being jailed. Its disgusting and inhuman.
We can not pick and legislate for what some might deem the “right” reasons for abortion. All women in Ireland deserve to know that their choice, bodily autonomy, economic freedom, health and lives are theirs and theirs alone.
Trade-unions should embrace the demands made by women for an equal society. The right to choose is not a moral or personal question which can be avoided; it is one which a democratic community should support in the interests of solidarity regardless of class, ethnicity or gender.
I would call on all union members to start pushing for a positive position on repeal within their own unions. Organise within your own branch or sector, bring the issue to conference and force your union to take the side of their women members. Unions have huge political power and they should be using it to force change through for the betterment of their members and society at large.’