Guest post by Rally for Choice about the upcoming event on Saturday 7 September in Belfast.
Last year we all campaigned, marched, knocked on doors and talked until we could talk no more and the end result was massive. The 8th was repealed! And while the fight for full control of our reproductive rights is far from over, abortion is now legal in the Republic of Ireland.
After the referendum passed an opinion poll was held in the North and 76% of people said they were in favour of abortion being legalised. The 76% crossed all ages, socio-economic backgrounds, religious beliefs and voting groups. We are a majority and we demand our rights.
For those of us living in the North this fight has been going on for decades and abortion is still so highly restricted than only 12 legal abortions took place in the whole of Northern Ireland last year and those found to have accessed an illegal abortion can find themselves in prison for the rest of their life. This law has been enshrined in our books since 1861 Offences Against the Person Act. Northern Ireland was left behind when abortion was made accessible in the rest of the UK.
In 2018 more than 1000 pregnant people were forced travel to the UK in order to gain access to safe abortions. These are just the figures that have been reported, there are so many more that go unheard. Every year sees an increase in the numbers of people travelling and countless others who have risked prosecution and used abortion pills ordered online because they cannot travel.
Our right to chose has been used as a political volleyball for too long and the joint bill passed by Parliament gives us hope that Free, Safe, Legal and Local abortion access will soon be a reality in Northern Ireland. However, we are not celebrating yet. Many of us are somewhat cynical as to what access will actually look like or if we will have the rug pulled from beneath our feet at the very last second.
Now more than ever we need to take to the street and show Parliament that this is what the people want. We do not want to have to fight for our healthcare, but if we have to, we will. We will fight until every pregnant person has the right to choose.
On Saturday 7th September Belfast is holding Rally For Choice, an event that has previously been described by Nelson McCausland of the DUP as a “pumped up street party”.
We will be meeting at Writers Square at 1.30 where we will begin our march through the city centre, ending back at the Square to hear our speakers. There will be a market for choice at The Sunflower Bar and Girls Rock School is holding a gig at the Ulster Sports Club.
So dust off your banners, grab your placards and join us!