British feminists we need to talk….
If you have spent any time on British twitter over the past few years, you may be well aware of certain infamous mainstream white British feminists that have a certain tendency to be rather well know for their column writing, twitter fame, that are overwhelming more focused on their views on trans people and getting into beefs with them via twitter. Than doing literally anything at all to stand in solidarity with the women and others forced from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to travel for abortions.
Now I keep on seeing a wide variety of varying well respected UK based feminists from different backgrounds and different types of political back grounds on social media full of rightful rage and commentary about the various possibilities of President Donald Trump defunding Planned Parenthood and restricting abortion access within the USA.
But alas abortion restrictions already happen in the UK, in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland the 1967 abortion act was never extended there, meaning the act which legalised abortion in the UK was not legislated in Northern Ireland. In fact women and others in Northern Ireland technically face life imprisonment for having “illegal” abortions, ie ordering pills off the internet and using them, under the the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act.
In fact in the past year alone as you may or may not know several women have been given suspended sentences after being reported by someone to the PSNI because they either had an “illegal” abortion or were planning to.
Now I just want to know why on earth mainstream British feminists aren’t that concerned about reproductive justice for their closest neighbours culturally and geographically?And instead seem to waste an awful lot of time on a certain bird site getting into beefs with trans people? From living in the UK I know how difficult Ireland is as a concept to get for you Britons and how little you know. But it's beyond frustrating to see various articles from British mainstream publications get basic facts wrong that would take 10 minutes at most, time and time again concerning the 8th amendment in the Republic of Ireland’s constitution and abortion in Northern Ireland.
Here's a few things to keep in mind when writing about the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland’s legislative bans on abortion.
- I know this is really difficult for a lot of you Brits but the Republic of Ireland is its own separate country and has been since 1922. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
- Northern Ireland has its very own legal system of statute and common law operating in Northern Ireland and not from Westminster, this has been in effect since the partition of Ireland which established Northern Ireland which is also a completely separate jurisdiction even within the United Kingdom in 1921. Hence why the 1961 Abortion Act was never extended from Westminster.
- Keeping in mind with point 2, when the Act went through Westminster, Northern Ireland had its own parliament and the issue of abortion was left for it to decide. When Direct Rule in 1972 returned Westminster never extended it to Northern Ireland.
- Direct rule is the term given to the system used to ruled Northern Ireland from Westminster, which was originally introduced on 28 March 1972 under the terms of the UK’s Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972. This was an attempt to quell political instability and sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. Direct rule also suspended the Parliament of Northern Ireland (known as Stormont), to the administration of Northern Ireland directly by the Government of the United Kingdom.
- Direct rule since its introduction has been reintroduced and suspended 4 times since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement 1998, since 2000.
- While women and others in Northern Ireland have the NHS and also work in the NHS in Northern Ireland, they like women from the Republic of Ireland are forced to pay up to £2000 to access abortion care in either England, Scotland or Wales (but mainly women and others travel to London for abortions mainly, this in part can be due to with how often Ryanair flights are to London back to Dublin compared to the rest of the UK.)
- You cannot talk about abortion legislation in only one jurisdiction of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland without mentioning the other. In the Republic of Ireland customs is incredibly strict on the illegal import of mifepristone and misoprostol drugs which can be used in the 1st 9 weeks and 4 days of a pregnancy to terminate it. While in Northern Ireland the PSNI in the past was a lot more relaxed about the illegal importation of mifepristone and misoprostol compared to the An Garda Siochana & Revenue’s Customs Service in the Republic who are a lot more stricter. Many who can’t afford to go to the UK for an abortion in the Republic will order these pills online and use a Northern Irish address to be able to get them more safely.
- The custodial sentencing is also vastly different. While the 8th Amendment is in the Irish constitution, before 2013 you could technically face life imprisonment for having an “illegal abortion” now since the introduction of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, you now can face “only” 13 years. While in Northern Ireland its technically a life sentence but due to the legislation being in place being so old the most you can get is a suspended sentence at least.
Now I get that these mainstream have their own various agendas and projects in particular Caroline Criado-Perez’s, lovely campaign to get a woman represented on British pound banknotes, because there's nothing more empowering for women in the UK and Northern Ireland than being represented on the main force of worldwide historical capital via a little thing known as the British empire. Yes ladies smash that glass ceiling better, now that there's going to be an actual woman on a banknote, who came from English gentry! Why destruct capitalism when you can be on financial capital! Wow liberation! Wow isn’t it shocking that women from Ireland/Northern Ireland will be forced to pay up to £2000 with Jane Austen featuring on £10 polymer £10 banknote from September 2017. Some would even call this ironic.
It surreal since moving to the UK how little Brits don’t know about Ireland and Northern Ireland, considering we were colonised by you for +900 years but please stand in solidarity with those forced to travel from Ireland, instead of ever pointless twitter beefs. Please donate to the Abortion Support Network that give grants to women and others who can’t afford the costs with traveling to the UK for an abortion and also paying for it. Please support the efforts of the Abortion Rights Campaign who advocate for free safe legal abortion, in Ireland and it the largest grassroots pro-choice organisation in Ireland. Please support Alliance for Choice which is an activist organisation which campaigns for free, safe, legal abortion in Northern Ireland. Please support the London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign which is a London based organisations which main aim is to again advocate for free, safe, legal abortion in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and to bring attention to the 1000’s of women who are forced to travel every year to the UK.