Health

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The political and personal landscape of choice in Ireland

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It is all but impossible, both in theory and in practice, to legally obtain an abortion on the island of Ireland, both north and south of the imaginary border that divides this island. It is completely impossible to safely and legally obtain an abortion anywhere in Ireland;  the legal framework in the south specifically requires that in order to obtain an abortion without being criminalised for so doing, the woman who needs it must be ill enough to die; thus it is rendered impossible for her to be safe in access to legal abortion. 
 

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Drug Criminalisation and the Tragic PMMA Deaths it Causes

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Drug criminalisation claimed another tragic victim last night 17 May) with the death of 18 year old Ana Hick. From press reports it appears hers was yet another preventable death caused by taking toxic PMMA that is sometimes substituted for MDMA due to prohibition and ruthless gangster capitalism.

Island of No Consent - Maternity Care and Bodily Autonomy in Ireland

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On the last day of August 2014, in a ruling the country and the media barely noticed, Mr Justice Ryan in the High Court in Kerry found against Ciara Hamilton and for the HSE in an utterly terrifying moment for every person becoming pregnant or giving birth in Ireland from here on out. Ciara Hamilton had taken a case against the Health Service Executive after the birth of her second child, during which a midwife had, without obtaining consent, broken her waters, leading to an umbilical cord prolapse and an emergency caesarean section.

The breaking of waters during labour, in medical terms, amniotomy or Artificial Rupture of Membranes (ARM), is not recommended best practice precisely because it can lead to a cord prolapse, which is a serious emergency when giving birth as it cuts off the blood flow and air supply to the baby. If the person giving birth is a Strep B carrier, as Ciara Hamilton was, it can also carry an increased risk of Strep B transferring to the newborn and causing serious damage to the baby, as happened to Ciara Hamilton’s child. It is listed as a Do Not Do under NICE recommendations. Despite this, and despite ARM being known to carry dangers and risks to both birthing woman and baby, it is still a widely carried out procedure in many Irish maternity hospitals. In the case of Ciara Hamilton’s birth, it was a procedure carried out by a midwife without seeking consent to do so.

 

 

Abortion: Bodily Autonomy, Capitalism, Misogyny

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In this society we are told that we have certain rights; the right to vote, the right to protest, the right to bodily autonomy (i.e. the right to decide what happens to our bodies). All of these rights can be taken away in a flash at the whim of those in power. But you cannot take away from a pregnant person that which they don’t have: bodily autonomy.

Abortion is extremely restrictive on this island, with the southern state not acting on the prohibitive legislation that is in place – as was highlighted with Ms. Y in August 2014 – and the northern state only allowing abortion when the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life (read: not health).
 

Towards a Cure - WSM Health Pamphlet

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Radical health reform, in terms of creating equality and accessibility, and stopping the agenda of privatisation and for-profit medicine, is one of the great challenges facing Irish society.

In this pamphlet, anarchists explain the reasons why such change is needed, give examples of important first steps in creating change, and describe the type of struggle that is necessary if we are going to win.

A System in Need of a Cure

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The healthcare system, upon which people in Ireland depend, is an apartheid system. Simply put, some lives are worth more than others. Rare attempts at reform have been stymied by historic, chronic underspending and vested interests. This legacy has forced the vast majority of working people to take out private health insurance and has laid the foundations for a neo-liberal push towards an American-style system of private medicine.

Despite the “economic miracle” called the Celtic Tiger that has led to Ireland having a higher GNP per head of population than much of the rest of the EU, it lags behind in terms of health outcomes. At age 65 we have the lowest life expectancy in the EU for both men and women. Indeed, the gap between Irish and EU life expectancy has been widening. Infant mortality rates are above the EU average. We have above EU mortality rates for cancer and coronary heart disease. Despite Ireland’s incidence of breast cancer being among the lowest in Europe, the death rate in 2001 from breast cancer was the highest in EU15. To cap it all, we have a widening income gap, which analysis suggests will of itself worsen our health experience since greater inequality is associated with higher mortality rates.

What Happened When Portugal Decriminalised Abortion?

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With the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment on May 25th drawing nearer, it’s with great interest that we look at the experience of other countries which have struggled against an abortion ban like ours, to learn from the lessons of the campaign, and to ‘look into the future’, as it were, and see the result of decriminalising abortion. As such, here are some brief notes on Portugal.

On 11th February 2007, in a national referendum, the Portuguese voted in favor of the decriminalization of the "voluntary interruption of the pregnancy" (VGI). It was the end of more than 30 years of struggles, advances and retreats, with many public debates dividing several quarters of Portuguese society.

Extremists on 'both sides'? Not really.

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If anyone says to you that 'there are extremists on both sides' in the referendum campaign, do be sure to point out that it's only the 'No' side that has the Far Right activists and the people with the big gory pictures that stand outside maternity care centres trying to harass and shame women.

The man in the pictures on the left is Justin Barrett, former leader of Youth Defence, and current leader of the anti-immigrant, homophobic, National Party.

The National Party wants 14 years imprisonment for women who access an abortion and the death penalty for doctors who provide abortions. Justin Barrett has attended neo-Nazi events in Germany and Italy in the past and his Far-Right party have been putting up posters around Ireland calling for a 'No' vote.

Health and Happiness as a Political Organiser - Brief Notes

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This is a quick article about some of the psychology and health issues of being a political organiser. There is as much to say about this topic time in the universe would allow, as such, this is a brief sketch which will be part of an ongoing series of articles dedicated to mental health and psychology with a particular focus on its application to political organising.

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