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Bertie Ahern, the Irish Taoiseach, has announced that there is to be a new referendum on abortion in the Irish 26 county state. The decision, arrived at after a series of secret deals with the Catholic church and far-right catholic groups, will take place at the end of this year or early in the new year. The new wording will refer to “real and substantial risk” to the life of the mother and will rule out the risk of suicide from consideration.
The purpose of the referendum is to reverse the outcome of the “X” case, where the supreme court ruled that a 14-year old rape victim who was threatening suicide could have an abortion. The effect would be to bring the state legislation back into line with the policy of the Catholic church.
Yet again the trappings of democracy are to be swept aside to reveal a state where women of all religions and none are to be bound by the rules of the Catholic church. Yet again the health and life of very young women are under threat from a repressive society.
The new referendum was immediately opposed by the Labour party and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. The Labour Party said “the sole effect of the bill is to dilute the constitutional right to life of pregnant women”. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties said “girls and women who are pregnant and suicidal as a result of rape (like the two girls at the centre of the X and C cases) would be denied the right to terminate their pregnancies”.
Confronted with the reality of Catholic morality enforced by the state in the X case, the mass of Irish workers supported the victim. That’s why it’s so urgent to organise now to build a mass campaign for a NO! vote.