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Apr 17, 2018 78 tweets 41 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
A thread on the long running rebellion that eventually forced the government to call a referendum to #repealthe8th - photo is us on the February 1992 X-case march - the point at which the tide turned & lead to the #Together4Yes to get rid of #8thref this May
Our involvement goes further back, WSM formed in 1984 but those members had fought introduction of the 8th as part of the Anti-Amendment Campaign. Felt AAC was too defensive through and there was a need to always include a 'womens right to choose' on every platform
In 1984 Eileen Flynn sacked from teaching job at New Ross convent school - Jesuit priest wrote “Ms Flynn’s pregnancy is significant only as being incontrovertible evidence that her relations with the man in whose house she resided were in fact immoral...
"..Had her immorality remained genuinely private, it might have been overlooked” In other words if she had quietly taken the boat to England nothing would have been said but as the extreme anti-choice organisations were not even happy with this
1985, Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) go to court to close down 2 pregnancy counselling centres providing information about getting abortion in Britain. The Supreme Court rules that information now unconstitutional.
1986 and another huge defeat when divorce is voted down 2:1 - WSM were involved in Yes campaign with 2 members elected to National Executive of the Divorce Action Group & also published the pamphlet 'Divorce: Undermining the family?'…
1988/9 & SPUC go after 3 students unions who continue to provide abortion information in their guidebooks - these cases will drag out for years at great expense - UCD SU transcript of legal threat below from…
In hindsight this was where tide turned, SPUC prosecutions gave rise to a small but militant student based movement that continued to defy courts - here Dublin Abortion Information Campaign have injunction-busting Women’s Information Network number outside the Dail
The idea was to invite prosecution and then mobilise people around the court case but much as with the abortion pills in the 26 counties the state avoided prosecutions - DAIG however was active most weeks outside the GPO and importantly was there when the x-case broke..
That Saturday we had a very different response to our leafletting, lots of people stopped to tell us how angry they were that X, a 14 year old rape victim, had been injuncted to stop her leaving the country. Clear that this was a moment of potential so DIAG called protests..
..which were both militant and enormous, scuffles on Kildare street as students tried to get into the Dail mid week and then a rally of 10,000 or so at the GPO that marched around the city chanting for a right to choose. RTE footage…
Under pressure courts ruled on right to abortion if there was "a real & substantial risk" to mothers life, including threat of suicide. But for 7799 days every government refused to legislate until aftermath of another rebellion following another tragedy, the death of Savita
But that's to jump ahead in this story, there is much to tell as the pro-choice rebellion continued through the 1990s, through another referendum, Women on Waves - all the time demanding that government legislate for X, which they failed to do
Throughout the 80s the status quo of the #8thref had been defended & expanded by SPUC. SPUC were the Iona of the day, a shadowy organisation that used elite power and media access to shape legislation in book room deals - in 87 Dublin awoke to these posters all over the city
In the aftermath of the X-case anti-choice brigade faced a youth rebellion & needed something not as stale as SPUC. Using Father Michael Cleary's radio show they revived one from the anti-divorce campaign and Youth Defence emerged from the shadows…
From the start Youth Defense had links with far right organisations like the Candour in Britain - today YD are hidden in the background of LoveBoth but its worth reading what they were willing to put in print in 1992…
For pro-choice campaigners this period saw a new type of threat as there was considerable violence from the circle around Youth Defense in the first year - some of their leadership openly identified with the far right - all well documented at
Then pro-choice movement did not retreat and indeed after one attack in Buswell's hotel we mobilised more than 100 stewards for our regular GPO leafletting in case they tried again - some of us were returned migrants from London who has stood up to the National Front there
Youth Defense because somewhat more respectable, probably because exposure to US fundraising for the 'Irish crusade' meant they realised there was a lucrative career ahead - some of the leadership left or were expelled…
In 1992 Hot Press had an undercover journalist infiltrate Youth Defense - his piece includes a mention of the infamous plastic foetus dolls that have reappeared for the referendum.… After it was published the car window of the HP editor was smashed
Youth Defense set up the Life Institute, Love Both operates out of the Life Institute offices - if you read the articles linked above you'll recognise some of the names from back then as the people on Love Both stages and press conferences now.
November 1992 saw 3 referenda where establishment conceded 'rights' to information & travel but tried to overturn abortion access for threats to life. DAIC was part of an alliance that successfully campaigned for what we called a Yes Yes No vote…
In the aftermath of the 1992 referenda victory DAIC became the Dublin Abortion Rights Group - we are now recent enough for the website to have survived
2001 saw us bring Women on Waves to Dublin with the intention of providing abortions on board a ship that would sail from the docks to international waters…
The ship had a clinic in a container on the deck - the project had been thought of as a way to put pressure on the government but there was a lot of demand for it. However insurance issues prevented any abortion provision
The context was the complete failure of the establishment to legislate for the x-case in almost a decade - its not coincidental that a referenda to #Repealthe8th finally appears after abortion pills made the direct action intention of Women on Waves an everyday reality but..
In 2002 the establishment made a 2nd attempt to overturn the x-case judgement by another referenda which we fought against and again won as part of Alliance for a No vote but still they refused to legislate
That 2002 referendum is somewhat forgotten, less than 10,000 votes defeated that attempt to rule out abortion access in the case of suicide. Dublin, Cork city alongside Limerick and Galway cities over came conservative rural vote…
The next wave of pro-choice rebellion was around the fake pregnancy advice centers set up to trick pregnant people by the catholic right. The establishment allowed these to flourish - its only years later that they are forced to move against them
This is a good moment to remember that the many years that have passed since our story of rebellion began, and not everyone who was there at the start will see the #8thref conclusion…
2007 saw the HSE use the 8th to try and prevent 17 year old Miss D who had become pregnant under HSE care travelling to England. Her foetus had a fatal foetal abnormality, anencephaly and pro choice protests in support of her took place at the GPO & the courts
Now we enter the era of social media & smart phones, both key to understanding the nature of the #Together4Yes movement but here meaning that as our history of the pro-choice rebellion continues towards #repealthe8th we have a lot more to draw on
As we approach the 2010s lets remind ourselves that at this point no establishment party stands for #repealthe8th - indeed no Dail party in 2008 even intends to legislate for x-case - now at 17 years of rebellion against #8thref peaking whenever there is tragedy or repression
In Dublin main 'on streets' organisation is @choiceireland - below is video from 2008 of CI picket on rogue pregnancy crisis agency on Dorset st that tries to trick pregnant women seeking abortion information - nasty tactic ignored by politicians
Then the global capitalist crash happens, very many pro-choice organisers including us spent the next years resisting the attempt to impose the costs of the crash on ordinary workers in Ireland - anti-choice absent from that struggle…
But in the background networking continued, for instance here is an audio recording of a 2009 meeting in Maynooth where the 3 speakers cover much of the history up to this point based around their personal experience - the W.I.N. one is very useful…
Here from the 2009 #Feminist walking tour @MaryMcAuliffe4 speaks outside a former Magdalene laundry about the women & girls who were incarcerated within - this was the anti-choice alternative back in the day, one still defended by their spokespeople
This is a Dec 2010 rally at GPO as European Court of Human Rights ruled Ireland was "failing to provide an accessible and effective procedure by which a woman can have established whether she qualifies for a legal abortion under current Irish law"
This is a pro-choice stall (probably Choice Ireland) at the 2011 Dublin Anarchist bookfair - the Choice Ireland website is gone but their older blog is at
2011 saw the anti-choice movement take to the streets with what became the annual March for Life - countering their attempt to intimidate gave new life to the pro-choice movement…
Here from the 2012 Dublin anarchist bookfair @ClareDalyTD and Dr Mary Faver of @Doctors4Choice discuss the limitations of the demand to implement the x-case legislation…
In June 2012 Youth Defense embark on their anti-choice billboard campaign aiming to shame women who have had abortion - this will prove very counter productive for them as images billboards being torn down and altered go viral on social media…
A Dail protest is called by a Facebook page called Unlike Youth Defense, I trust women which attracts 100s many of whom were meeting for first time - from now the rebellion grows until it forces establishment to call #repealthe8th… #TogetherForYes
It also builds links with the movement in north of Ireland as, 4 days previous, a bus load of Dublin pro-choice activists travels north to take part in counter rally to March for Life there - legal situations are very similar with abortion not being available north or south
Another feature of Belfast was a known fascist who had previously been quite central to Youth Defense was spotted on the march wearing the badge of his fascist group. He told Sunday World "he would have "no problem" with Breivik style-massacre" in Ireland…
The new wave of pro-choice organisation sparked by Youth Defence led to the first #March4Choice that September - a new generation of activists were mobilised & becoming organisers but tragedy was about to strike once more…
Meanwhile in Belfast Marie Stopes opened Oct 2012 to "carry out medical .. procedures only up to nine weeks' gestation" Regular intimidation pickets by anti-choice groups outside & 5 years later it will close but after seeing 1000s…
In early November 2012 rumors circulated among the pro-choice organisers of the events listed above that a migrant women had died in the west after being refused an abortion. A Dublin meet up decided if this was true and her family agreed to call protests when the news broke
When the Irish Times published we reported "There are some stories that are hard to cover - the death of Savita Halappanavar, a pregnant women, from septicemia whose life might have been saved if an abortion was not delayed is a hard as they come"…
According to the Irish Times Praveen Halappanavar, the husband of Savita said she had asked for a termination several times over a three day period only to be told "this is a catholic country."
We looked back from this point to the x-case in a piece titled
Abortion Legislation - "We owe it to Savita and the bravery of her husband in making this story public"…
The next evening the first protest took place outside the Dail attended by an estimated 3000 people
That Saturday enormous numbers turned out to march, we estimated 17,000…
Some of the speeches at
The anti-choice smear stories to distract & cover up what happened started straight away - their initial approach being to that there was something underhand in pro-choice groups knowing she had died. Galway pro-choice responded in detail…
Incredibly the establishment parties including Labour continued to refuse to legislate for X - 19 years later they were still insisting they had not enough time…
On the 28th Nov this led to an angry confrontational protest at the gates of the Dail with TDs who refused to vote to legislate for X being blockaded into the car park for some time
It was only the following summer that the very restrictive Protection of Life During Pregnancy was passed to legislate for X - too little far too late, #Repeal was now the immediate goal…
Then the deeply unpopular austerity government of Fianna Fail & Labour collapsed. When Labour were wiped out at election some commentators who failed to understand the movement said Repeal would not happen now but radical transformation does not lie in electoral politics
#Repealthe8th was not a conventional movement of establishment politicians and law makers but a rebellious grassroots movement of those on the outside but determined to organise against whoever was in power until they were forced to grant a referendum - more on this to come
Pro-choice organisers were meeting from the autumn of 2012 to discuss launching a new group to take us to #Repeal & beyond, in January 2013 this took shape with the launch of the Abortion Rights Campaign @freesafelegal at the Teachers Club…
In March hundreds took part in a picket of as EU Health ministers meeting at Dublin castle and students of NUI Galway voted Yes in a pro-choice referendum by close to a massive 70%……
Also in March & across the border over 100 people the banner Alliance for Choice signed an open letter declaring they have taken, or supported others to take, a pill to induce an abortion as Stormant tried to clamp down on women using the abortion pill…
In September the first @freesafelegal March for Choice took place with about 1000 taking part - this number would rapidly grow each year as ARC organisation spread around the country. In UCD students voted for policy of legalising abortion in Ireland upon request of the woman"
In August 2014 more protests when #8thref delivered more cruelty - a young migrant women was refused an abortion by the Irish state despite meeting the grounds of the X-case legislation and forced to carry pregnancy & agree to a C-section…
July 2015 saw prosecution of Belfast women for supplying her daughter with abortion pills, at our Dublin solidarity protest the Garda arrested & pepper sprayed pro-choice campaigners who unfurled a banner from roof of the GPO……
September saw 1000s take part in the #March4Choice shortly after an Amnesty poll has shown that two-thirds of the Irish people want abortion to be decriminalized, Enda Kenny however said he had no intention of calling a referendum but we outlasted Enda
We recorded the speeches on that 2015 March for Choice noting many who spoke were giving voice to communities that would often be marginalized & excluded from this debate including migrant community & Irish traveller., Videos at…
But this was also when it became clear that in the south customs had really stepped up intercepting abortion pills in the post with 1000 seized - each seizure was an act of cruelty against the person needing them…
Through late 2015 and early 2016 the struggle continues north of the border where events prove a chilling warning that the southern state ignoring the widespread use of the abortion pill may not last. In April a 21 year old is given a 3 month suspended sentence for pill use
Need Abortion Ireland @needabortionire launches in the south, a direct action project to supply pills to any pregnant person who needs them. This puts it to the establishment that their law is unworkable - its why 12 weeks on request is their only choice besides repression
In 2001 we had thought to make the law unworkable with Women on Waves ship & RU486 (the 'abortion pill') The right idea but probably premature for technical reasons, in the 2010s the law became unworkable, north & south and remains so - this is one reason why we have #8thref
In the1980s few women were willing to risk talking about their abortion story which allowed peddling of all sorts of myths; by the 2010s many were taking that risk. Now @InHerIrishShoes has played a vital role in telling individual stories #repealthe8th…
Social media has allowed parents to remain centrally involved in the campaign even if regular attendance at meetings remains hard - groups like @parentsforyes have made an enormous contribution in changing the narrative
All the polls in the last decade indicated that the hard core 'let women die' anti-choice brigade were a shrinking minority of 15% - they still had power because they had establishment links in church, media & politicians but the writing was on the wall
That deep rooted anti-choice establishment power continued to scare the politicians so in desperation they tried to delay with the Citizens Assembly but it turned out when 100 random citizens heard the evidence they came out for #repeal8th in Dec 2016
The establishment panicked, one journalist writing "consensus in Oireachtas is that assembly's recommendations were overly-liberal interpretation of current thinking of middle Ireland" But they were out of delaying tactics so then Oireachtas Joint Committee leading to #8thref
On May 25th we finally get to vote to abolish the hated 8th. The author of this thread was 15 in '83. Almost the same age as Ann Lovett. Unlike her I made it to 50 but my entire adult life has been under the shadow of the 8th - this thread mostly uses my photos & experiences
#Repeal will happen this May but while at the end only the politicians could call the referendum they were kicked & dragged there by a 30 year rebellion and the numerous grassroots pro-choice movements that emerged, fought & reorganised to fight again.

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More from @WSMIreland

Apr 30, 2018
Today we are warning that #RepealTheEighth vote can't be assumed even through No have failed to increase their vote. If the same last week shift comes into play as for Marriage Equality & Divorce we are looking at a result to close to call. To explain in detail..
1995 Divorce referendum looked to be in the bag from advance polls but on the day was only narrowly carried, it appears major drop in Yes happened in last 10 days. Too long ago to say more but we can say a whole lot more about Marriage Equality..
Marriage Equality also saw sharp drop in last 10 days, there were 4 polls published a weekend before by the same range of companies polling this time around - table shows each poll and then actual result first for raw data, then with Don't Knows excluded..
Read 17 tweets
Mar 20, 2018
We've seen a number of Irish journalists wondering if Cambridge Analytica style tactics could be part of #repeal referendum. In fact they already are and have been for over a year - let us demonstrate that
But first its useful to understand that Cambridge Analytica is not just a for profit company but also an ideological tool for the hard right and far right. It's owned by billionaire Mercer family who also funded Breitbart.
Journalists already understand that Murdoch buys newspapers for influence over elections as much as to make profit - Cambridge Analytica and similar are the same sort of duel investment but in social media world
Read 25 tweets

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