As all you readers in Ireland and many more besides will be aware, earlier this year Ireland voted, overwhelmingly, to remove a constitutional amendment that essentially made abortion under any circumstances illegal. It was a great result for progressive Ireland; a great result for women’s rights. And despite this successful grassroots campaign being hijacked by the neoliberals Leo Varadkar and Simon Harris*, the passing of the referendum was rightly celebrated wildly.
Just over six months have passed, and there is still a long way to go before new legislation comes into effect. There are still anti-choice members of both houses of parliament that will continually throw spanners in the works in order to make the attainment of full bodily autonomy for women as difficult as possible. The struggle continues, but at least the passing of the referendum, and the official removal from the constitution of the amendment in question by President Higgins, has been a major step on the road.
How have our government been preparing for the provision of abortion services? In the only way they know how, it would seem. By seeing this historic change in Ireland as a money-spinner. It was revealed a few days ago, that the Health Service Executive have put the provision of ultrasound services, including those for women seeking abortions, out to tender. Instead of providing these services in the public hospitals, the Department of Health is seeking to turn this into another profitable venture for the private sector. These are Minister Harris’ true colours. Taking advantage of people in vulnerable situations to siphon more money into the pockets of the shareholders. These private clinics will not be providing these services for free. Either the women in question or the taxpayer (by referral through the HSE) will end up doing so.
This is by no means surprising. There are already plenty of services being outsourced to private clinics. Consultants working in public hospitals are also treating private patients, undermining the public health service. This is all evidence of the neoliberal government deliberately running the public hospitals into the ground, in their drive to privatise as much as possible. Not to mention the fact that they are trying to put the blame for the overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed hospital wards on the doctors and nurses who work there.
Just remember that when these scavengers jumped on the Repeal the 8th bandwagon earlier in the year, and that when they appeared smiling and waving to a jubulent crowd in Dublin Castle on the announcement of the referendum result, all they saw in the crowd were euro signs. These are opportunistic career politicians who are only concerned with their PR and further enriching themselves and their cronies. They could not care one iota about the plight of those who actually need to have abortions available.