Women are fleeing to UK like refugees - Bree
REPEALING the 8th Amendment is a necessary first step towards allowing women full and equal citizenship, according to councillor Declan Bree.
It would remove a major obstacle to independent decision-making for a woman regarding her body, her life, and her future, he said. He likened the current situation of women with crisis pregnancies as fleeing to the UK like refugees.
Cllr Bree said: “The repeal of the 8th will allow for the introduction of a properly regulated, properly limited medical service governed by legislation which will provide support for women in crisis situations without the need for them to flee the country like refugees.
“Women need to be trusted and Repeal needs to happen so that women can make their own choices and have those choices respected and vindicated in law, Cllr Bree told a meeting of People First activists in Sligo this week.
“When I first became involved in politics as a teenager 50 years ago we lived in a different Ireland.
“An Ireland controlled by right wing and conservative politicians – an Ireland where the hierarchy, the church and secret societies like the Knights of Columbanus had a major role in determining public policy.
“It was an Ireland where citizens lived in fear of criticising the church, an Ireland that had no access to birth control.
“Doctors could not prescribe and chemists could not supply condoms or other methods of contraception.
“It was an Ireland where there was widespread censorship of magazines, books and films and where women in particular were denied access to health books promoting contraception, never mind abortion.
“Divorce was banned and homosexuals were targeted and lived under constant treat of prosecution.
“It was also an Ireland in which Catholic priests and nuns terrorised thousands of boys and girls and where little or no action was taken to stop the chronic beatings, rapes and humiliation of countless children.
“The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse described the rape and molestation as “endemic” in catholic church-run industrial schools and orphanages.
“The sheer scale and longevity of the torment inflicted on defenceless children – over 800 known abusers in over 200 Catholic institutions made it clear that it was not accidental or opportunistic but systematic.
“That the hierarchy did its utmost to cover up the torture and rape of our children speaks volumes about those who would now proclaim their concern about unborn children.
“During the referendum campaign in 1983 I was proud to be involved in the Anti-Amendment campaign in Sligo-Leitrim. We had a small but courageous number of activists in our campaign group.
“We opposed the 8th Amendment and argued that it was legally unnecessary, anti-woman, sectarian and divisive.
“The experience of the last thirty five years has proven us correct.
“It was an acrimonious and bitter campaign and unfortunately the majority of citizens were persuaded by the hierarchy and the conservative lobby to vote for the 8th Amendment.
“However, today it is recognised that the neglect and abuse meted out to so many vulnerable women and children by the church and state leave those institutions with no moral authority to decide upon, restrict or impose boundaries on women.
“In the 35 years since the 8th Amendment was inserted into the Constitution somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 women per year are known to have provided Irish addresses in UK clinics when seeking to access abortion services.
“In this context it is clear that the 8th Amendment has simply served to force women to travel abroad to access basic health care.
“Making abortion secretive and hard to talk about does not mean it does not happen.
“It is part of the history of many families in this country. It is utter hypocrisy to pretend that it is not so,” he said.
A record 4,000 plus people took part in the Darkness into Light walk in Sligo Town last Saturday Morning. For More see pages 17 & 83.
Councillor Declan Bree