Women are flee­ing to UK like refugees - Bree

The Sligo Champion - - NEWS -

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

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