Thousands march to demand abortion reform

Thousands of students and people, young and old, came out to support the march for choice
Thousands of students and people, young and old, came out to support the march for choice

 

 

Thousands of people marched through Dublin on Saturday in the fourth March for Choice, hoping to incense politicians to repeal the 8th Amendment.

Trade unions, activist groups and citizens marched to Merrion Square in the largest pro-choice march yet, with some Gardaí estimating a turnout of 10,000.

With cries of “Not the church, not the state. Women must decide their fate!” And posters animating colourful slogans like “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!” There was a palpable frustration from demonstrators.

The 8th Amendment gives equal status to the life of the mother and the unborn. The last referendum was in 1983.

“Women have been ignored,” said actress Tara Flynn, who MC’d the event. Flynn recently wrote an article detailing her crisis pregnancy and having to travel to the Netherlands for an abortion.

“I braced myself for an attack. But I was not prepared for the love and support. And anger. Righteous, righteous anger.”

As demonstrators marched from the Garden of Remembrance to Merrion Square, some wheeled suitcases to symbolise the journey women make abroad.

In 2014, 3,735 women and girls provided Irish addresses at abortion clinics in the UK, according to the UK Department of Health.

“The current legislation makes abortion a class issue and inherently, inaccessible to students,” said Annie Hoey of the Union of Students Ireland (USI) in her impassioned speech.

“I believe the government must commit to holding a referendum. If they don’t, don’t you dare give them your vote.”

There was a sparse presence from the Pro-life campaign. The Life Institute held a stand outside the GPO and asserted their support for the Eighth Amendment.

“Repealing the amendment would lead to abortion during all nine months of pregnancy until birth. Irish people do not support that,” said Fatima Gunning-Hameed.

DCU student Naoise McHugh said that Ireland punished unwilling parents: “Criminalising abortion makes children the price you pay for sex. What kind of outlook views children as a consequence?”

DCU SU President Kim Sweeney said: “DCU students were informed and invited to the march by an all-student email.”

Class reps were invited via the Class Rep Council (CRC) Facebook groups. Due to a technical error, not all students received the email from Welfare Officer Domhnaill Harkin. No SU representatives were able to attend the march. However DCU SU posters were printed out for students who marched.

DCU voted for a pro-choice SU stance in 2013, although only 10 per cent of the student population voted.

Aura McMenamin

Image: Chaitanya Brady

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