At a meeting organised by Labour youth in the Central Hotel in Dublin on January 27th 2007 a group of activists took part in a workshop on direct action campaigning. From this workshop a diverse group of people arranged to continue meeting with the specific goal of investigating rogue crisis pregnancy agencies. Over the following weeks the group met in Seomra Spraoi and planned an undercover investigation to expose two of these agencies operating in Dublin. After some digging it emerged that the two agencies “a choice for women” and “British alternatives pregnancy services” were both operating from 50 Upper Dorset Street under the name the “Womens Resource Centre”.
Armed with tape recorders three activists went undercover in the agency to expose their tactics. While there the women were given false medical information being told that an abortion would cause breast and cervical cancer, infertility, depression or cause them to abuse their future children. The agency also attempted to delay the women, who they thought were seeking an abortion, by referring them for unnecessary ultrasounds and extra appointments. The women were shown videos of abortion procedures, shown grizly pictures of aborted foetuses and given a small ceramic foetus to hold. One of the activists was told that it was impossible for her to become pregnant from rape.
Now that the agencies unethical and intimidating practices had been exposed the group, who had now expanded decided to hold a demonstration outside the agency on International Women’s Day 2007. The name Choice Ireland was settled upon and the founding principles were agreed. Choice Ireland, a non-hierarchical group consisting of activists from a range of political backgrounds was formed on March 8th 2007 the day of the first demonstration outside the WRC. Since then Choice Ireland has launched a sustained campaign to regulate crisis pregnancy agencies through the media and demonstrations.
In the last days of April 2007 another event which was to re-ignite the abortion debate erupted. During the day on Monday April 30th there were quiet mumblings that “Miss D” a 16 year old girl in the care of the HSE was being prevented from travelling to the UK to terminate her anencephalic pregnancy. Within hours pro-choice activists were mobilised with Choice Ireland at the centre. Solidarity demonstrations were held outside the four courts each day of the week long hearing. On Saturday May 4th over 100 people rallied at the GPO in support of Miss D at a demonstration organised by Choice Ireland.
Since its foundation in March 2007 Choice Ireland have been an active and dynamic campaign group. In addition to the WRC protests the group held the successful “rally for reproductive rights” outside the central bank on Sunday June 30th 2007 where over 100 people heard speeches from representatives of Alliance for Choice and doctors for choice as well as from Ivana Bacik, David Norris and of course Choice Ireland. On June 27th 2007 the group placed 20 suitcases outside the Dail to highlight the plight of the 20 women a day who leave Ireland to travel for abortion services. The group has also sustained a high media profile taking part in radio debates, TV interviews and featuring in national print media. It hasn’t been all serious and the group have also facilitated film screenings and workshops at events like the RAG feminist gathering. We are proud of our feminist ethos and the group also collaborated with RAG to run a walking tour of Dublin celebrating the history of feminism in Ireland to mark international women’s day 2008.
Choice Ireland hope to continue working long into the future taking direct action to ensure all facets of reproductive rights are upheld.