1 November 2007 Edition
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An Phoblacht welcomes readers’ letters. Write in Irish or English, 200 words maximum. Letters may be edited for brevity. Send your letters to [email protected] No attachments please
Assembly motion on abortion
I have represented and defended Sinn Féin’s position on abortion in the public domain for many years, including publicly supporting SF’s ‘opposition to abortion’ during the 80s!
Our position was ‘fine tuned’ over the years, resulting with the Women in Ireland document being endorsed by the 1999 Ard Fheis, which included the following:
“Sinn Féin condemns the failure of the Dublin Government to enact legislation following the abortion referenda in 1992. Despite the result of the referenda, very little has changed for women in the 26 Counties.
“Sinn Féin believes that full information and non-directive pregnancy counselling, embodying all choices, should be freely available.
“Sinn Féin is opposed to the attitudes and forces in society which compel women to have abortions and criminalises those who do make this decision.
“We accept the need for abortion where a woman’s life and mental health is at risk or in grave danger and in cases of rape or child sexual abuse.”
I am not aware that that position has changed.
I find it disheartening to listen to public representatives regularly mis-quote our policy position as it suits the political climate or their own personal/political positions.
As a Sinn Féin member, I often had to defend (from my own personal conviction, the indefensible) our position on abortion. Are other party members exempt from doing this?
Many of us have tried, through having motions passed at Ard Fheiseanna, to have the abortion issue comprehensively discussed throughout the party, throughout Ireland, as we did in Derry in the late 1980s. So far, this hasn’t happened.
When are we going to stop being influenced by particular political ‘climates’ (while women continue to have ‘secret’ abortions) and stand up for the rights of women? Until we accept that women have the right to determine/make choices about their own fertility, we do not support equality for Irish women.
Sinn Féin has the most progressive position on abortion amongst all constitutional parties in Ireland. Until we ‘allow’ women to decide whether to have not/have abortions, let us defend and fully support our current policy.
It is with deep regret and disappointment that I write this letter to outline my concern about Sinn Féin’s support of the DUP motion in the Assembly on 22 October which was in contravention of Sinn Féin policy as passed at successive Ard Fheiseanna.
While Carál Ní Chuilín was right in her assertion that Sinn Féin does not support abortion, she and her Assembly colleagues were wrong to support the motion tabled by the DUP as party policy on the issue does not go as far as to support motions of this nature.
In theory, Sinn Féin is against abortion but has indeed accepted the need for access to abortion where a woman’s life or physical or mental health is at risk or in grave danger, and in cases of rape or sexual abuse. On this basis, it is a human rights issue and is recognised as such in international law.
The DUP motion opposed extending the grounds on which abortion could be made available – such as extending it to rape and incest victims – therefore, the motion is at odds with Sinn Féin policy.
While the provision of quality sex education, free and accessible contraception and a system of adequate supports would have a knock-on effect of reducing rates of crisis pregnancy and therefore abortion, it will not eradicate it completely. The X, C, and D cases on this island will still appear and it is unrealistic to think that we can continue to export crisis pregnancies forever.
It is high time there was a mature and logical debate on this issue and it is a shame that, on the 40th anniversary of the 1967 British Abortion Act, our Sinn Féin MLAs are supporting motions that impinge on the human rights of women.
LAOBHISE Ní CHEALLAIGH,
Pardon me for posting my two cents’ worth about Martin Yeats’s liberal-bashing comments (Mála Poist, 25 October) but bashing “vacuous liberalism” is not the way to achieve Irish unity.
There’s nothing wrong with liberalism; in fact, it is a hell of a lot more progressive than Catholic fundamentalism bordering on fascism.
It definitely would be “revolutionary” if Irish republicans became more progressive and supported Irish women in their fight for the freedom to choose when it comes to abortion and other personal matters, as in same-sex marriage.
Mr Yeats should be reminded that unity is not achieved through exclusion or modern day witch-hunts against liberals and liberalism on internet news sites. It’s high time some of you woke up over there and got over your right-wing-nut religious delusions. Amen to that.