Why I’m Marching: Keeping Up the Momentum

With the March for Choice only days away, we are sharing the last of our blogs in the ‘Why I’m Marching’ series. Today’s blog comes from Rachel Roth, a member of the ARC Policy & Advocacy working group. If you would like to share why you’re marching, there’s still time! Please send us your written blogs (up to 700 words) or video blogs (up to 1 minute, including captions) to [email protected] #ARCMarch19 #NoOneLeftBehind #FreeSafeLegalLocal

I went to my first March for Choice in September 2017, a few weeks after landing in Dublin. I was still in disbelief that I had moved to a country where abortion was illegal, and I wanted to get involved in the abortion rights movement.

The first person I met as I waited in front of the Hugh Lane Gallery was from Germany. She held a handmade sign that read:

‘8th removes consent rights during labour and childbirth
stop obstetric violence
Repeal And Replace’

Even though I was familiar with the case of Savita Halappanavar – who died after being denied an abortion during a miscarriage – I had not realised that the Constitution gave foetuses rights; nor that the 8th amendment denied pregnant people the right to make decisions about medical care.

I remember laughing at the Simpsons placard proclaiming, “Repeal! Abortions for some; miniature flags for all!” and feeling inspired by the man holding aloft a sign demanding, “LOCAL LEGAL ABORTION ON REQUEST. NOTHING LESS.” I also remember asking my new Irish acquaintances about unfamiliar terms like “Tuam”. These lessons from that first March taught me how much was at stake in repealing the 8th Amendment.

One of my favourite slogans from the United States is, “access – without it, you’ve got no choice.” This rings true in Ireland as well and this is what keeps me involved. Even with legal abortion, not everyone can easily access the care they need. People in rural Ireland already have less access to health care than those living in cities, and abortion is no different. We still need more GP’s, especially GP’s who will care for patients who are not already signed up with their practice. We need more doctors who can offer a choice of medication or aspiration abortion. Anyone living in a Direct Provision center, a homeless shelter, not to mention in their car, should be able to get an abortion in a doctor’s surgery instead of having to go “home” and go through the sometimes days-long process there; and really, this method should be available to anyone who would prefer it, no matter their reasons.

Since I joined ARC and started campaigning, I’ve been moved by the many women staking their place in the public debate, and by the participation of men and LGBTQ community. I admire the elderly woman who came to a street stall and went off sporting a badge, and Radical Queers Resist for covering graphic anti-choice signs with vibrant rainbow flags, literally putting themselves on the line for freedom.

This year, I’m marching to keep the need for progress on the public radar. To protest paternalistic barriers like making people wait for three days to get the medical care they’ve already decided they need. To ensure that anyone who decides to have a baby can make their own decisions about ante-natal care and childbirth. To call for an end to rogue agencies. To encourage politicians to revise the arbitrary and unworkable barriers to abortion after twelve weeks; and to remember their promise to be compassionate.

This year, I’m marching because people in the streets can change things for the better. People in Ireland made me believe that.