Abortion: Why Irish Women Must Have the Right to Choose
Organisation:Socialist Workers' Party (see Socialist Workers' Network)
Author:Goretti Horgan
Collection:Abortion and reproductive rights
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

12th March 2018

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this document.

Printed in originally in 1982, and then reprinted twenty years later in 2002, it was written by Goretti Horgan. In 28 pages it is divided into a series of sections including ‘The reality of abortion in Ireland’, ‘Abortion – a class issue’, ‘Reducing the abortion rate’ and ‘Women’s liberation and socialism’. The text was updated to reflect developments in the intervening two decades.

The Introduction notes that:

AT THE start of the 21st century, women in Ireland still do not have the right to control their own bodies. Yet
the last twenty years have seen great change in women’s lives and in attitudes to sexuality in Ireland.
Abortion is no longer a taboo subject. Radio talk shows have women phoning them, giving their names and openly talking about their experience of abortion.
Much of this openness started only with the X case. In February 1992, the Attorney General in the South obtained an
interim injunction restraining a 14 year old girl, pregnant as a result of rape, from
obtaining an abortion in Britain. The injunction was confirmed by the High Court and Justice Declan Costello ruled that the girl and her parents were prohibited from leaving Ireland “for a period of nine months from the date thereof”. The newspapers leaked news of this “internment” of a 14-year-old rape victim.


The plight of Ms X, the 14 year old rape victim, made many people rethink their position on abortion….It is almost ten years since the Supreme Court ruling. However, there has been no move to introduce legislation to implement the X ruling. As a result of the politician’s cowardice, another young rape victim had to go to court to demand the right not to be forced to give birth to the child of a rapist. 13 year old Ms C, from the travelling community, was in the care of the Eastern Health Board and had to seek the court’s permis- sion to travel to England. She was granted permission and the Health Board paid for her termination.


Now once again Irish politicians led by the Fianna Fail leader Bertie Ahern are trying to roll back the X case judgement. They want a new referendum to stop women who are suicidal having a right to abortion. If a woman prefers suicide to bearing an unwanted child, let her commit suicide. This barbarism needs to be resisted by everyone who stands for women’s rights.

It concludes by saying:

To talk of socialism without women’s liberation is meaningless. Equally, there can be no women’s liberation without socialism. And control of fertility, our right to free contraception and abortion when we need it, is a prerequisite to women’s liberation. It is for this reason that the abortion issue is not an ‘optional extra’ for the Irish Left, but a vital part of the struggle for workers’ rights generally.

A timely addition to the Archive.

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