Cork Women's Right to Choose interview - Putting Politics Before Health


Abortion is a criminal offence in Ireland, even in cases in which a woman is carrying a non-viable foetus, is pregnant as a result of rape or incest or where pregnancy threatens her health. The state has not clarified the circumstances in which abortion to save the life of the women is permissible. The following is an interview with a member of the Cork Women's Right to Choose (CWRTC), an activist group campaigning for abortion rights in Cork (first published in Rebel Worker).

WSM: Abortion is a touchy subject in Ireland, what are your opinions on this subject?

CWRTC: We believe that Irish women and all women have the right to decide if they are ready to have a child, in fact British statistics show that 19 Irish women a day believe in those rights and travel to the UK, despite this the Irish state continues to treat abortion as a criminal offence rather than a health issue.

WSM: How did you get involved in campaigning? And why?

CWRTC: I think it was the X case that got me going. In 1983 while the referendum campaign was going on I was very angry at the blindness of some of the people who smugly promoted the amendment; especially those who said pregnancy was never a threat to women's lives and who implied that anyone who argued for abortion on any grounds were immoral. I had 3 small children and I didn't really know what to do to help the campaign. I remember how depressing it was to hear the referendum result. I couldn't believe people voted for something so oppressive of women. My first real involvement in campaigning came during the demonstrations and meetings in response to the X case. On why I got involved; I suppose i felt a sense of outrage at what happened to the girl in the X case, that she was dragged through the courts and that so much more than her body was violated.

WSM: How do you describe the current situation in Ireland?

CWRTC: It discriminates against women, denies them dignity and autonomy, endangers women's lives and health, and can inhibit their participation in paid employment, education and training and in social and political life. The current situation is an oppressive and inequitable one. Not only does it inflict silent and solitary journeys on women, it results in a two-tiered system of eligibility for health care, where abortion services are accessible only to those who are free to travel to Britain or other destinations and can afford to do so. The restrictive nature of abortion information and the difficulties in travelling particularly impact on women from rural areas, minors, women living in poverty and on certain ethnic groups such as Travellers, and on asylum seekers.

WSM: What is the ideal law that you would like to see here?

CWRTC: I think getting abortion out of the criminal and constitutional law (as in Canadian law) is important but I think the most important thing is that women are not subordinated and that the decisions about their fertility should be theirs and not made by law makers. Talking about choice is a bit vague though without talking about making sure that all women have ready access to counselling, having genuine choices and that class and money (and other factors) cease to be issues-as they are now.

WSM: So what is happening in Ireland and in Cork?

CWRTC: There are many groups lobbying in Ireland for change, and it is changing rapidly as young and old speak out against these injustices. We have an active group in Cork who meet fortnightly to plan different events; last year we organised workshops, gatherings, and regular stalls. We are working on outreach and have many supporters writing articles also. This year we have a workshop at the Ladyfest, and a public meeting for September. I'm sure you will also see us on the streets at our monthly stalls on Patrick’s Street.

WSM: So what message do you have for our readers?

CWRTC: I would say join the pro-choice protest! And talk with people about it, we have regular meetings in cork and an email list to get information-just write to

From Rebal Worker Issue 1

Download a PDF of Rebel Worker 1