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Irish women to go on strike in protest of country's abortion ban

It is a criminal offence to have an abortion in Ireland, carrying a 14 year prison sentence

Siobhan Fenton
Social Affairs Correspondent
Monday 23 January 2017 14:25 GMT
Pro-choice advocates (left) and anti-abortion advocates (right) rally outside of the Supreme Court, March 2, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Pro-choice advocates (left) and anti-abortion advocates (right) rally outside of the Supreme Court, March 2, 2016 in Washington, DC.

Women in Ireland are going on strike to protest the country’s abortion ban.

Pro-choice women will refuse to attend work on 8 March, as part of direct action to make the government pay attention to growing frustration over lack of reproductive rights.

It is a criminal offence to have an abortion in the Republic of Ireland, where women face up to 14 years in prison. This is the case for all pregnancies, including those conceived as a result of rape or incest, or where the foetus cannot survive outside the womb due to a fatal abnormality.

It is estimated 12 women that travel from the country to Great Britain every day to access a safe and legal termination.

Abortions are prohibited under a clause in the Irish Constitution known as the Eighth Amendment which grants a foetus the same citizenship and rights as a pregnant woman. Constitutional clauses in Ireland can only be removed if a referendum finds majority support to repeal it. The Irish government has previously pledged to hold a referendum on the Eighth Amendment but repeatedly failed to do so, resulting in growing frustrations among feminists locally who say the government has failed to commit to clear action to reform the laws.

The strike calls on women to book a day off work as annual leave and also wear a black armband or black clothing in protest. For women who do not work, the strike asks them to withdraw emotional or domestic labour, such as housework or caring duties, roles which are disproportionately performed by women.

A statement released by organisers Strike 4 Repeal says: “We are an ad-hoc, non-affiliated group of activists, academics, artists and trade unionists preparing a nationwide Strike for Repeal on the 8th of March 2017.

"Our demand is that the Irish government call a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment by the 8th of March. If not, Ireland will strike.

“The strike will not be an industrial strike in the traditional sense but could include taking an annual leave day off work, refraining from domestic work for the day, wearing black in solidarity or staging a walkout during your lunch break. We also encourage any business owners in a position to close their services at no cost to workers, to do so for all or part of the day as a solidarity action.”

The action echoes that which was performed by women in Poland who organised an all out strike last year, in protest at attempts to tighten restrictive abortion laws even further. Following the strike, politicians agreed to drop attempts to introduce the restrictions.

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