Anarchists and the right to choose


We envisage an anarchist society as a society where people are free to make choices about their own lives. We picture a society where decisions are made at the lowest effective level. For women, this includes the decision whether or not to become pregnant, whether or not to remain pregnant, whether or not to have children.

It is possible to be an anarchist and to have a moral objection to abortion. It is not possible to be an anarchist and not support the right to choose. For if the right to choose does not rest solely with pregnant women, where would it lie; with the state, with lawyers and the courts, with police?

The logic of the anti-choice position is that women would be coerced into continuing with unwanted pregnancies. To anarchists this would be unacceptable. Women consider many different issues when they make the decision to have an abortion. They consider the views of their partner, parents and of the society they live in. They consider the effect it will have on their career or studies. They think about whether they are ready for motherhood. They look at the relationship they are in. They examine their financial and economic situation.

The decision is complex and not an easy one. For anarchists, the best person, indeed the only person, with the right to make that decision, is the woman who is going to have to live with its consequences. So for us, the right to abortion is a basic human right.

For many women abortion isn't a choice rather it is the only option in their circumstances. The right to choose should also include the right to choose to become a mother. While we fight for abortion rights on one hand, we fight for the removal of barriers and stigma, which prevent some women from carrying through a pregnancy, which they would like to continue with.

Our fight for abortion rights therefore is also part of a wider struggle to re-define what sort of lives women are able to lead. It is also part of a struggle for a society that supports parents in their decision to have children. In defending and defining the right to choose in the broadest way possible, we are defending the right to make choices about how to live our lives. In doing this we are setting the agenda for a future society.

This page is from the print version of the Irish Anarchist paper 'Workers Solidarity'.

This edition is No61 published in November 2000

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