Men ‘must not be complacent’ about referendum vote

Current legislation is forcing lower-paid women into backstreet abortions, unions’ event is told

Male voters have an important role to play in the abortion referendum, trade unions were told

Male voters have an important role to play in the abortion referendum, trade unions were told


Male voters have an important role to play in the abortion referendum and must not be complacent about the importance of their vote on May 25th, trade unions have heard.

Representatives from Irish trade unions gathered in Dublin on Tuesday to mark the 2018 May Day celebrations by releasing a special edition newspaper calling on all members to vote Yes in the referendum on abortion.

The 20-page tabloid features articles from doctors, public representatives, legal professionals and union representatives calling for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

Prof Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, who chaired the HSE investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012, writes in the newspaper that Irish people have the opportunity to change the “harmful law” that cost the 31-year-old Indian dentist her life.

“Medical decisions should be made based on medical need to save lives and promote health,” writes Prof Arulkumaran. “Requiring doctors to wait until a risk to the health of a pregnant woman has unequivocally deteriorated to a point where her life is at risk is clinically unworkable. It is poor patient care and ethically wrong.”

Also in the newspaper, professor in psychiatry Veronica O’Keane writes that only seven women are registered as having had an abortion to prevent suicide since the introduction of the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.

This low number “flies in the face” of the argument that the 2013 legislation would “open the floodgates” for women to have abortion, she writes.

Speaking at Tuesday’s launch of the paper, Prof O’Keane added the current legislation is forcing women on a daily basis into “backstreet abortions”.

“It’s unbelievable at this time in history that we are sanctioning an abortion service where women take pills from an envelope. Abortion care should be treated like any other form of care, and it needs to be incorporated into our social structures and into our workplaces.”

Ruairí Creaney from the Communications Workers’ Union, whose membership is 77 per cent male, noted he had encountered men who continue to regard the abortion debate as a “women’s issue”.

“Abortion isn’t just a women’s issue; it has everything to do with men. I would appeal to men in the trade union movement to show solidarity with our sisters.”

Men will never have to worry about what the Supreme Court thinks or says about their reproductive health, said Mr Creaney, addingthe State’s treatment of women was “a stain on our national history and our national consciousness”.

“When I got to the doctor about my reproductive health what I say in that room stays in that room. There’s never going to be a national debate around my reproductive system. Men wouldn’t stand for men’s reproductive systems being written into the Irish Constitution, and we shouldn’t stand for it when it comes to women.”

John Douglas, general secretary of Mandate, warned the current legislation was forcing lower paid women with crisis pregnancies to opt for unregulated and unsafe options.

“With financial demands the option of jumping on a boat or plane is not always readily available. Our female members should be trusted and should have the right to have control over their own reproductive system.”