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“We have heartbeats too!"

One would think that the news that a dying women was refused treatment on the grounds that “Ireland is Catholic Country” and that the foetus came first would silence the far right bigots who seek to oppress pregnant women. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

These hysterical fundamentalists have not been silenced. Yet her death has illustrated the reality of unborn rights - that no pregnant women can enter a hospital without the fear that her life and health may be at risk. 

The fanatic pro-lifers are a small minority with enormous power because political parties bow the knee and because the state supports and subsidizes church intervention in health and education. This is one aspect of the “carnival of reaction” following partition that Connolly spoke about. The renewal of partition today leaves the working class divided and the forces of reaction given a free rein. 

We have a history of the mutilation of women in hospitals through the barbaric symphysiotomy operation. Women were locked away in Magdalene laundries for giving birth outside wedlock. 

It comes as no surprise to learn that in the North attorney general, John Larkin, believes that abortion is the equivalent of shooting babies and plans all sorts of restrictions on abortion clinics. 

Those who support woman's rights in Ireland have been deluding themselves. A number of groups in the North believed parity with Britain would establish rights. Across Ireland many persuaded themselves that European integration would have a civilising effect. Following the child abuse scandals and a sharp fall-off in mass attendance sections of the socialist movement persuaded themselves that church power would simply fade away. 

Socialists support the self-organization of women. They support the right to choose. Women alone can decide their fate. They can only do so in the context of a resurgent working class, unwilling to bear the burden of reaction any longer.


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