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Column: We have waited long enough. It’s time to take action on the X case

Last night, the Dáil began a debate about legislating for the X case. Clare Daly TD writes about why she brought the legislation forward – and why it’s so important for Irish women.

Clare Daly

LAST NIGHT, THE Dáil began debating legislation on whether to legalise for the X case.

I introduced the Medical Treatment (Termination of Pregnancy in Case of Risk to Life of Pregnant Woman) Bill 2012 to the Dáil, along with two fellow TDs.  This is the first time that a positive proposal to legalise abortion in Ireland has been initiated and in that sense it is a truly historic step forward. Of course it is long overdue and we fully recognise that it is merely a very tiny first step, but it is important nonetheless.

The Bill which is being put forward in my name resulted from work undertaken and advanced in association with fellow ULA TD Joan Collins and Independent TD Mick Wallace. The Bill has been moved during the Private Members time of the United Left Alliance. It is clear that the main Dáil parties are not willing to be seen to push the fight for abortion rights, preferring instead to hide behind the so-called expert group set up to examine the issue, following Ireland having been found to have violated human rights by the European Court of Human Rights in 2010.

‘We believe that abortion provision needs to go far beyond our Bill’

This is despite the fact that Irish people have twice voted in the last twenty years to allow abortion in Ireland where the life of a woman is at risk, including from suicide. Yet no evidence of any such abortions being carried out in Ireland exists, as successive governments have failed to legislate for it. It is because of the previous Supreme Court ruling and the constitutional referenda that we have framed the Bill in this very limited form.

We have waited long enough. It is time to take action on the X case ruling. We believe that abortion provision needs to go far beyond our Bill and that it is only a first step for abortion to be legalised in all circumstances. But by discussing this Bill now and passing it, it would facilitate the expert group recommending broader abortion provision when it reports back later in the year.

‘Labour Party policy is in favour of this Bill. They should vote for it’

We recognise that it is largely unprecedented that Private Members Bills are accepted by government. There are many in the government parties who will hide behind their whip and vote against it. This is not good enough. Labour Party policy is in favour of this Bill. They should vote for it. This is a really important Dail debate that will feed into the expert group and assist in ensuring a positive outcome for abortion provision and an end of the hypocritical Irish solution of exporting thousands of women every year at enormous expense and hardship.

Since moving the Bill we have been contacted by many women urging that these issues are advanced.

Over 100,000 Irish abortions have taken place in Britain for many different reasons, none of them easy, all of them valid. The hypocrisy, injustice & expense of having to travel to England for terminations, away from family and friends is a disgrace.

This is an issue of women’s rights to control their own bodies

Those opposing the right to abortion argue that it is not  ”medically necessary”. This is nonsense. Contraception is not medically necessary but it allowed women to regulate reproduction and plan their families.  This is an issue of women’s rights to control their own bodies. Forcing women to continue with pregnancies arising from rape, or carrying to full term a foetus that will die upon birth is an abuse.  Investing in life skills and proper family planning, to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and ensuring that parents have adequate financial resources to enable them to bring up children with dignity and support is the only solution to ensure that women are able to choose what is best for them.

This debate is an important part of that battle and we encourage everyone to put their local TDs under pressure and come along to the Action on X protests outside the Dáil.

Clare Daly is a Socialist Party TD for Dublin North.

Column: There is nothing enlightened or progressive about this abortion legislation >

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