On Saturday, 30 September, tens of thousands of protestors hit the streets of Dublin to attend the Abortion Rights Campaign’s March For Choice.
The rally was the biggest it’s ever been since the marches started five years ago, estimated turnout is around 40,000. Young men and women, families with children and elderly citizens took part in the first major demonstration held since the Irish government announced a referendum on the Eighth Amendment — the law currently protecting the ‘life of the unborn’ and banning abortion – in early summer 2018.
The march traveled throughout the city centre and led to a rally in Merrion Square where speakers addressed the crowd. Speakers included Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, an Irish civil rights leader, Gerry and Gaye Edwards of Terminations for Medical Reasons, poet and trans rights activist Matt Kennedy, Kate McGrew of Sex Workers Alliance Ireland and representatives from Migrant and Ethnic-Minorities for Reproductive Justice. Comedian and actor Tara Flynn acted as MC. British Labour MP Stella Creasy also marched at the event after speaking at The Irish Times Women’s Podcast.
The Eighth Amendment was passed by referendum in Ireland in September 1983, and since then, the repeal movement has picked up pace and many supporters.
Someone who is not an avid supporter of the Abortion Rights Campaign is Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister.) Varadkar said that he was “pro-life” back in 2014 and that while he wasn’t in favour of ‘abortion on demand’, he thought current laws put lives of women at risk. “There are two lives involved in any pregnancy. For that reason, like most people in the country, I do not support abortion on request or on demand.”
“Hey hey, Leo, the Eighth Amendment has to go” — Protestors referenced Varadkar’s stance in the various chants heard throughout the rally with “Get off the fence Leo” and “My body my choice.”
“34 years since ’83, stop sending women across the sea” — Across the pond in England, a few hundred campaigners held a pro-choice protest outside the Irish embassy in London to highlight the numbers of Irish women who have traveled to Britain for abortions since the 1983 Referendum. Communities across Europe and the world also showed solidarity to the repeal movement, see here.
To see more photos of the march check out #MarchForChoice2017 or #ARCMarch2017 on Twitter and other social media!