The tenth annual March for Choice took place this afternoon, September 25, outside Leinster House.
The demonstration, organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC), advocated removing the remaining barriers to abortion access, following the repeal of Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion in 2018.
A press release from ARC called on the government to take “urgent steps to address the gaps in abortion care provision in Ireland.”
The statement included a comment from Jennifer Ryan from Let Me Choose Bereavement Support, which reads “Unfortunately we have discovered that the removing the Eighth Amendment has not been enough to prevent people from travelling for abortions, in their darkest hour, even throughout this deadly pandemic.”
“Badly-written legislation, criminalisation of doctors, and the hangover of a medical culture that enjoyed exercising control over pregnant women have led to a situation where people have to travel to lose their baby.”
The annual demonstration typically marches from the Garden of Remembrance to Leinster House, but due to Covid-19, this year’s protest was a stationary rally outside Leinster House.
The demonstration called on the government to legislate for “safe access zones” around abortion-providing medical facilities, to deter anti-abortion protestors. It also called for the repeal of the three-day waiting period for those seeking abortion.
On September 22, the ARC released the results of survey which noted that over half of respondents did not know where to go to access an abortion, and that one in five respondents were refused abortion care without referral to another provider.
22% of respondents who had acccessed services said they “did not feel they were treated with dignity and respect by providers” with some recording that they experienced racism and discrimination from the staff.
Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) and Dublin University Gender Equality Society (DUGES) met outside Trinity’s Exam Hall at 1:30pm before walking down to the protest as a group.
Speaking to Trinity News at the rally, Rebecca Kelly, Gender Equality Officer for TCDSU, commented that “it’s great to see such a good turnout today” and that “we need to break down the barriers that are still there.”
Speaking to Trinity News, Penelope Norman from DUGES said: “We’re here because repeal was just the start of the campaign for local, safe, fully legal abortion.”
“We’re very happy to be here representing the society and this college.”
JoAnne Neary, an ARC member, addressed the rally: “We’re here today because there are simply too many barriers to safe abortion care across the island. We face criminalisation, mandatory delays, widespread refusal of care, and strict gestational limits that amount to a violation of our human rights.”
Chants of “not the Church, not the state, women must decide their fate”, “my body, my choice,” and “our bodies, our lives, our right to decide” were heard at the demo.
The rally was also attended by the Union of Students in Ireland, People Before Profit, the Social Democrats, Amnesty International, the Labour party, the Industrial Workers of the World trade union, and socialist feminist group Rosa.