The Abortion Rights Campaign today held a rally calling for abortion on demand, without apology. ARC believes abortions should be available on request throughout pregnancy for anyone who wants or needs one, free from stigma and shame, without apology or restriction. While reproductive rights are under attack worldwide, our government has failed to provide free, safe, legal, local and accessible abortion services for all who need them.
Speaking ahead of the 11th Annual March for Choice, ARC co-convener Darina Murray said, “We are asking for healthcare based on medical research and human rights. We’ve done our utmost to educate the government on best practice, and they’ve shown again and again that they aren’t interested in medical best practice and would rather placate ministers who believe in forced pregnancy in certain circumstances.”
Paula Dennan, ARC co-convener, highlighted that gaps in abortion provision mean that people must travel further to have an abortion than they usually do for healthcare appointments.
“Leaving the county to access healthcare might not sound like a huge deal, but if you are reliant on public transport, it is almost impossible to organise in a way that does not take up your entire day and nearly impossible altogether if you are disabled. Before the introduction of telemedicine during the pandemic, people seeking abortions had to make this journey twice in three days due to the medically unnecessary mandatory waiting period.
This rural/urban divide in abortion provision disproportionally affects disabled people, working-class people, migrants, people living in direct provision, people who are already parents, and people who have other caring responsibilities,” said Ms Dennan.
Four years after our historic vote to remove the 8th Amendment, we are still waiting for abortion legislation that centres the human rights and dignity of pregnant people. The legislative review was ostensibly started earlier this year – aside from the public consultation, the rest of the process appears to have languished. How much longer do we have to wait? Every day that this process is delayed is another day our human rights are ignored. There are no circumstances in which it is acceptable to force someone to remain pregnant against their will.
Mara Clarke, founder of the Abortion Support Network spoke at the march. Ms Clarke stated: “ASN still gets 20 calls from the Republic of Ireland each month. I will not complain that this is 20 calls too many – although it is – I’m going to complain that it’s not enough. When the referendum happened we made an estimate of how many people would not be able to access care in Ireland. Our conservative estimate was 600-800 per year – and yet only about 200 are travelling. What keeps us up at night is wondering where these people are and how we can get our phone number to them. Those people make us sad. And then there are the callers who make us RAGE. The couples with a wanted pregnancy given a foetal diagnosis. That is a tragedy. That same couple told by healthcare professionals trapped by bad legislation to take multiple expensive and time-consuming tests before being told that the diagnosis is not bad enough to receive care in Ireland.”
Additional speakers at the March for Choice included Tara McAllister from Alliance for Choice Derry; Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan, a Dublin-based writer and performer from India; Nem Kearns from Disabled Women Ireland; Dr Shubhangi Karmakar, a hospital doctor and Clinical Tutor in Psychiatry at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland.