A Shot Across The Bow

This is the first piece that has been published on this blog in nearly four months, so I believe that people who read our blog deserve an explanation as to why this has come to pass.

On March 3rd, I was visited by two police officers who believed (wrongly) that I ordered abortion medication for someone and searched my property, seizing my laptop and phone. I was told that if convicted I could expect anything up to life in prison. I co-operated with the investigation and didn’t resist the warranted search or the acquisition of my laptop and phone.

I was one of two people who were raided, but I had to wait until Thursday June 15th to have my charges dropped. Sitting in one of the questioning rooms at Musgrave is an unnerving experience, even when you know you are there to collect belongings. The Officer who searched my property was sat across from I, they calmly told me nothing would be pursued but continued to go on to mention that I’m “quite the blogger” – A reference to this blog and the material on Abortion that many contributors have built up over the last year and a half. I was also told I have “obvious pro-choice views” which is not incorrect, but I felt carried an association of guilt without proof as opposed to being not guilty.

For some, these experiences I’m sharing won’t be new – I have shared this story with people throughout the last 14 weeks, but I’m sharing this because our readers deserve to know why I haven’t been able to run this blog for a quarter of a year.

Abortion Rights

I’ll probably never know who ordered the abortion pills that were intercepted by the police, something that is understandable as there are enough cops in the world that police moral decisions, the law and more without people volunteering their vulnerability as crime.

These raids would have came as a shock to many, there was always an assumption that ordering these pills was an un-policeable way of undermining an unjust law – it’s safe to say that this isn’t the case, which is a tragedy waiting to happen. The raids were a shot across the bow of a movement, charges were not pressed but the damage was done.

We can currently count pro choice MLAs with no more than a few fingers, our Attorney General appears more concerned with personal crusades than upholding a law that works for everyone, or failing that, just complies with minimum UN standards. Police raid houses and courts scrutinise an act that is perfectly legal just a short flight away.

We’ve seen the horrific treatment of women sectioned in the South trying to access abortion, we watched the X and Y Cases unfold, the tragic death of Savita too. If the current state of affairs is upheld, it is a matter of when a tragedy occurs in the North, not if.

Whether the state cares to admit to it or not, these pills have relieved the pressure that builds under a blanket denial of a right. Without them, the apartheid situation facing working class women of the North is sure to sharpen. The state doesn’t pass any notice on people flying to the UK to receive an abortion, so long as it doesn’t happen in our wee country. This places working class women at an immediate disadvantage, you can’t afford last minute flights and private medical treatment if you are working a minimum wage job or have no job at all. No savings, no money that can be borrowed from the parents. Wealthier women are at a far greater liberty than working class women can ever expect without fundamental change to the law.

Helping women access abortion can be punishable by law, but where does this help begin? The Officer who called me “quite the blogger” has clearly seen that we have written about Women on Web in the past, we’ve included images of banners that mention the Women on Web website – Does this mean we have helped Women access abortion pills? The deliberate ambiguity of this, coupled with an immediate presumption of guilt if you are openly pro-choice, highlights the severity of this issue.

The Last Round has always trusted women and supported the fight for reproductive rights, raids don’t change that and they won’t change that.

By Tyler McNally (@TyTLR)