Abortions rights are just one part of the struggle for full ( reproductive ) freedom


Anarchist pro-choice banners cross the Liffey near the Custom house, DublinThe demand for abortion rights is a shallow one if all that it means is a right to a safe and legal abortion. The demand for abortion rights must be brought into the greater battle for full reproductive freedom.

Reproductive freedom means that if someone is pregnant and does not wish to be they are supported, financially and emotionally in that decision. Likewise, if someone wishes to have a child they should not be constrained by, for example, financial issues.

In the case of Ireland, abortion is only available in the South when there is a threat to the life of the mother - a threat determined by a panel after scrutiny - with a similar situation in the North except that the mother's life must in danger below 9 weeks gestation.

Fighting for reproductive freedom must mean a fight for a world in which someone does not wish to bring another person into this world for fear that they will experience the oppression that they have experienced as well as abolishing the oppression that denies them control over their own body and strips them of their bodily autonomy when faced with pregnancy.

In Ireland, these oppressions that one would not wish to pass onto a child manifest in various ways and can be easily unveiled by examining the position of someone locked into the despairing system of Direct Provision i.e Ireland's inhuman way to treat asylum seekers.

Within Direct Provision adults are given an allowance of €19.10 a week with an added €9.60 for every child that they have in order to pay for everything that human beings require to exist and this is without the right to work. They must live in cramped overcrowded places and they do not have the right to rent a home. Not to mention that every child born here is not necessarily an Irish citizen, unless one of their parents is an Irish or UK citizen then they do not have an automatic right to citizenship and therefore they may be deported.

You don't need to put your glasses on to see why someone would not want to bring a child into this world to live in this system for up to seven years in some cases.

The attitude in Ireland seems to be "well if she wants an abortion she can go and travel for it" but for someone in a direct provision centre they simply cannot do this even if they were to able to gather the travel and procedural costs, the racism of the Irish state does not allow them to travel, the same is true for some migrants as well, revealing the intersection of racism and class warfare in this issue.

On an international level, however, some of those who have been involved in the fight for abortion rights have also held some racist eugenic ideals; ideals that are interwoven with the the forced sterilization of People of Colour throughout the world.

A pamphlet from The Committee to End Sterilization Abuse reads that "The overwhelming majority of people who are victims of sterilization abuse in the U.S. are Native American, Black, Chicano, and Puerto Rican women. There was a 180% rise in the number of sterilizations performed between 1972-1973 in New York City municipal hospitals which service predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhoods."[1] It is worth noting that abortion was legalized in the USA in January 1973 and prior to its legalization Black and Puerto Rican women accounted for 80% of the deaths due to unsafe illegal abortions in New York City; the very same place were these sterilizations were occurring and against the same people.

The ideology of eugenics goes hand in hand with the ideology of white supremacy, neither of them have anything to do with pro-choice politics or reproductive freedom; the battle for reproductive freedom, therefore, must be a battle a battle against white supremacy.

Reproductive freedom also means class warfare. Many people live in poverty, or just above the breadline, and can barely afford to keep themselves alive let alone raise and care for a child. Everyone should have the right to bring a child into this world should they wish to and be able to raise it and care for it fully without having to worry about where the next pay cheque is coming from or how will they pay the next bill.

As it stands in Ireland, pills are brought in illegally to those who need a safe abortion but beyond nine weeks a surgical abortion is needed and that means travel must be involved. This is an inconvenience for someone who has the means but an absolute nightmare for someone who cannot afford the travel as well as the procedure, which only begs the question that if someone cannot even afford an abortion how are they supposed to be able to afford a child.

Most importantly however, reproductive freedom, or the power to excercise control over your reproduction and your body is the corner stone of feminist liberation.

"The body has been for women in capitalist society what the factory has been for male waged workers: the primary ground for their explotation and resistance, as the female body has been appropriated by the state and men and forced to function as a means for the reproduction and accumulation of labour."[2] Resisting this control, this exploitation and taking ownership back of the body, not only women's bodies, but all bodies on the gender spectrum is central to us taking back this society from the forces of oppression.

So yes, let's demand free, safe and legal - let's fight for it, but let's fight against all forms of oppression that exist in our society, let's talk about freedom.

WORDS: Fionnghuala Nic Roibeaird


[1] http://freedomarchives.org/Documents/Finder/DOC46_scans/46.Sterilization...

[2] Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici