On May 6th The Trade Union Campaign for Repeal of the 8th was invited to speak, at a press conference, on behalf of Ruth Coppingers’ Repeal Bill. Please find the press release here with the speech and photo’s of the event below. Ruth Coppinger will be moving this bill on the 8th of May and the TU Campaign and UY DAG will be offering any support we can. Click here to see what you can do to help.
My name is Laura Duggan. I am a member of the Unite and ICTU youth committees. Both of which I am proud to say have affiliated to the Trade Union Campaign to Repeal the 8th Amendment, along with the Communication Workers [Union] Youth, Mandate Trade Union and the district trades councils for Bray, Dublin and Waterford.
This campaign of trade unionists calls on the wider Trade Union Movement to join in the push for the repeal of the 8th. For working women who make up half of the workforce in Northern Ireland and almost half in the South, the amendment is an affront.
The 8th amendment is a major source of gender inequality and it is the centrepiece of legal gender discrimination in Ireland today. To think that in 2015, my bodily autonomy and that of my friends, sisters and fellow workers is an issue up for debate is truly sickening.
Predominantly it is working class, migrant and lower paid women that are affected by the 8th amendment, which not only prohibits these 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. Repeal of the 8th amendment is a women’s issue, a workers issue and ultimately a class issue.
To put all this in perspective: I work 15 hours a week and I rely on social welfare to plug the gaps and make ends meet. If I found myself with an unwanted pregnancy, I simply couldn’t afford to choose. An abortion can cost upwards of €1500 and this is way beyond my means and the means of the 50% of employed women in Ireland who earn under €20,000 a year. Repeal is a workplace issue for these women, and for me.
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 why women seek abortions and only pushes them out of the Irish healthcare system to access it, if they are lucky enough to afford it.
For the likes of me, if I am fortunate enough to know of Women Help Women or Women on Web, where I can safely access the abortion pills, I run the risk of 14 years in prison if I chose to avail of them, as does anyone who dares to aid me. All for exercising a right that would be available to me abroad, if I could pay.
It is 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.
The 8th amendment is not a moral issue and it has never been about protecting life. It is there to target and punish, working class, poor and migrant women for daring to think they deserve equality and control over their own lives.
This bill is incredibly important and it has the full support of the Trade Union Campaign for Repeal, and we would call on all politicians who have said they favour repeal to stand by their word now and support Ruth Coppingers’ Bill on May 8th.