Thousands of people gathered in the city centre for a pro-life rally this afternoon, as the referendum on the repeal of the eighth amendment fast approaches.
The pro-life marchers met at Parnell Square at 2pm, before making their way down O’Connell Street to Merrion Square, where a rally featuring speakers calling for the retainment of the eighth amendment was held.
Pro-life students were represented by groups such as Students for Life and Life Society UCD. “With 75 days to go till the most historic referendum of our generation, we’re joining hundreds of pro-life organisations around the country to show that we don’t trust politicians with our abortions laws,” read the UCD Life Society’s rally event description. The referendum’s intended date is May 25.
Marchers held posters bearing the slogans “don’t repeal the right to life,” “vote no,” “abortion stops a beating heart” and “repeal kills,” among other phrases, while chanting “two, four, six, eight, we appreciate the eighth” and “save the baby, save the eighth, we will not discriminate” as they made their way to Merrion Square.
Leader of both the Life Institute and Save the 8th, Niamh Uí Bhriain, was present to speak in favour of the eighth amendment, as was Down syndrome activist Charlie Fien, who spoke out against aborting foetuses diagnosed with Down Syndrome at the United Nations last year. “Save the 8th will save the lives of babies with down syndrome,” she told the cheering crowd today.
A representative of Rachel’s Vineyard Ireland, a “support group model for counselors, offering a very concrete, emotional experience for women who were grieving the loss of their aborted children,” said: “I have a dream that in my lifetime many women will stand with me and admit that they had abortions and that they regret it.”
Other speakers included Bernadette Smyth of Precious Life Northern Ireland, and Micheal O’Dowd of Disability Voices for Life.
The Rally for Life follows a pro-choice march across the city on Thursday, International Women’s Day, and the approval of the referendum bill by the Cabinet. Minister for Health Simon Harris introduced the 36th amendment of the Constitution bill 2018 to the Dáil yesterday for it to be debated.
Today, Harris also said that the government will consider providing free contraception in the event the eighth amendment is removed from the Constitution in order to help prevent crisis pregnancies, along with other measures. The possible measures to improve access to counselling and contraception will be examined by an internal Department of Health group .