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Health, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Free, Safe, Legal
to be Theme of the 7th Annual March for Choice.

ARC Launch 7th annual March for Choice.

The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) have announced that the theme for the 7th Annual March for Choice, taking place on Saturday 29th September in Dublin, is ‘Free Safe Legal’.

The March will be the first since Ireland voted by a 66.4% majority to repeal the 8th Amendment.

At a press conference today in Dublin, speakers from a range of backgrounds discussed the significance of the ‘free safe legal’ theme, as the Dáil prepares to pass legislation to ensure abortion care is finally available in Ireland.

Dr Mary Favier, co-founder of Doctors for Choice, spoke on the need to focus on getting medical services in place for those who need them:

‘I am marching for choice because while we have achieved a lot we have much more to do to ensure the implementation of a safe and legal abortion service In Ireland. We must all remain active and vocal to ensure that we never go back’.

Speaking on the personal resonance of the Yes vote, Clare Daly TD said:

“The significant and overwhelming vote of the Irish people to rid our country of the restrictions of the 8th amendment should now be followed through with visionary human rights-centred legislation to provide access to a high standard abortion service for women who need it.”

Paola Rivetti, a member of MERJ (Migrants and Ethnic Minorities for Reproductive Justice) drew attention to the troubling implications of the practice by some doctors of refusing abortion care on grounds of conscience, and to the disproportionate effects this could have on the most marginalised in society:

“The repealing of the 8th Amendment was a huge victory and we owe it to all those women, trans and non binary people, Irish and non-Irish, settled and non-settled, who have mobilised for decades. However, the struggle is not over. We will march for a law that guarantees access to abortion and pregnant people-friendly health services – and neither of the two are compatible with conscientious objection.

“The existence of conscientious objection carries on the legacy of shaming women and it is a move against the result of the referendum in May: the people did not vote for restricting access to abortion but the opposite. Conscientious objection puts the life of pregnant people in danger. It obliges them to extensive waiting periods and unnecessary travels, by bus or car this time rather than plane or boat, affecting those in more vulnerable conditions, such as people living in Direct Provision or other forms of institutionalisation and those with precarious visa status. “

Gearóidín McEvoy, a member of Lawyers for Choice, commented on the significance of bodily autonomy as a result of the referendum:

“To me Repeal means granting women control over their own bodies and access to basic reproductive rights. It means putting the power in the hands of women, who for so long in Ireland, were disenfranchised, demonised and shamed. It allows us as a country to vindicate the human rights of all pregnant people and welcome home those countless women who we shunned across the sea”

Reflecting on the theme of the March, ARC spokesperson Cathie Shiels said:

“The March will see see thousands take to the street to celebrate our recent victories and to ensure that no one is left behind as we move forward with legislation and services. It will be a chance to honour those whose lives have been lost to the 8th Amendment and to make a promise that we will continue to fight until abortion is available across the Island of Ireland, including Northern Ireland, and to those whose circumstances will fall outside the remit of the proposed legislation.

“This year’s March will be a chance to celebrate the successes of the pro-choice, pro-change movement in Ireland. However, it is also a time to acknowledge that on a practical level, nothing has changed since the 25th May. Every day, 10 people still travel for abortion care, while at least 3 more take pills at home that are safe but remain illegal under Irish law.

Now more than ever, it is crucial that we as a nation come together to call for stigma-free access to abortion for anyone who wants or needs one, regardless of their financial or legal status.”

ENDS

For more information contact:

Cathie Shiels: 0873398233
media@abortionrights.ie
facebook.com/freesafelegal
twitter.com/freesafelegal

Notes for Editors

The annual March for Choice, organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC), has taken place every September over the last seven years in Dublin. Each year has seen the march more than double in size, with 40,000 taking part in last year’s ‘Time to Act’ event. This will be the first march since the repeal of the 8th Amendment, and the theme ‘Free Safe Legal’, ARC’s long-time slogan,  emphasises the need for abortion care in Ireland post-repeal, available to all who need it. The March will start at 1:30pm Saturday 29 September at the Garden of Remembrance, Dublin 1. More details at www.abortionrightscampaign.ie

Speaker bios

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly has campaigned for many decades for the liberalisation of abortion in Ireland.  As a student leader in USI she was an integral part of the campaign for the right to access abortion information.  As a TD she was the first member of Parliament to table pro-choice legislation in 2011. She is a fervent campaigner for equality and social justice.

Dr Mary Favier is a general practitioner in Cork and cofounder of Doctors For Choice (https://doctorsforchoiceireland.com/).

Paola Rivetti is an Assistant Professor in Politics and International Relations at Dublin City University. Originally from Italy, she is a member of Migrants and Ethnic Minorities for Reproductive Justice (MERJ). (https://www.facebook.com/MERJIreland/)

Gearóidín McEvoy is a PhD candidate in Dublin City University at the School of Law and Government. Gearóidín was one of the founding members of Laois For Choice (a regional ARC group in Laois) and has been part of the Lawyers For Choice steering committee since 2017 (https://lawyers4choice.ie/).

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Dáil Debates, Health, Human Rights, Justice, Women's Rights

Dáil Issues, Health

The revelation this week that some individuals received not one, but two, doses of controversial swine flu drug Pandemrix In 2011, is genuinely staggering! Some of these people went on to develop narcolepsy, an horrific incurable condition which results in sufferers falling asleep without warning, which frequently co-occurs with cataplexy, which essentially results in a person’s body being temporarily paralysed, rendering the person unable to speak or move. In April 2017 I highlighted the case of a boy who developed narcolepsy having received the swine flu vaccine in 2010 to Enda Kenny, telling him:

‘I refer to the case of a young man who has narcolepsy, which is a lifelong debilitating disorder. He can fall asleep without warning and has done so. He has smashed his teeth and broken his bones. He experiences terrifying hallucinations in a state of sleep paralysis. He has to be given expensive anaesthetics so that he can get a few hours’ sleep. He has developed joint and muscle pain. He suffers from anxiety and depression to the extent that he has tried to kill himself. He is 14 years of age. This condition, for which there is no cure, limits every aspect of his daily life. While his condition is bad, the worst thing is that he did not always have it. He was not born with it. It is not a genetic disorder. This was an avoidable catastrophe. This young man, like 80 others, developed the condition as a result of receiving the Pandemrix vaccination for swine flu in 2010.’

Narcolepsy is an utterly devastating condition. But what makes it all the more devastating in this context is the realization that they need not have suffered. The problems with Pandemrix were known but criminally ignored by elements within the HSE. This has been going on for years now as 80 cases of mainly young adults have been forced into litigation by a foot dragging establishment, whose modus operandi continues to be deny, delay, circle the wagons, rather than openness and accountability. This weeks revelations are the last straw. Minister for Health Harris & former Minister for Health Leo Varadkar must act. I already warned them of this is in May of this year, (link to my May leaders). Since then they have done nothing. The victims & their families deserve full openness, an agreement to full disclosure & engagement, rather than adversarial litigation, a no fault vaccine compensation scheme as agreed in the program for government.

Here’s what we know…

In September 2009 the Irish Medicines Board(IMB) sent a letter to the Chief Medical Officer of the HSE, Tony Holohan, That letter stated quite clearly that the none of the swine flu vaccines had been fully tested, & that at the point, ‘no safety data’ was available in regard to the vaccines. In other words, clinicians would be prescribing it without knowing what possible side-effects it might have.

IMB letter to Tony Holohan – Click to view

It quite clearly stated that ‘the absence of information on dosage in children and use in pregnant women may be a difficulty for national health authorities when making recommendations for the safe use of the vaccines in these patient populations’. Despite this, the HSE released a leaflet a month later, advising pregnant women that they should get the vaccine, and saying: ‘We expect the swine flu vaccine to be as safe as the usual seasonal flu vaccine, which has been used for more than 60 years. Serious side effects are expected to be very rare.’

October 2009 HSE leaflet stating that Pandemrix had been ‘fully clinically tested’ – Click to view

The HSE had absolutely no evidence on which to base these assertions -in fact the September 2009 letter shows they had evidence to the contrary! Worse still, the leaflet stated: ‘The vaccines are fully licensed and clinically tested, This was patently false as they knew they were not ‘fully clinically tested’. The letter from the IMB stated: ‘While Clinical trials have commenced there are no data yet available from these trials.’ And yet the HSE told the public in October 2009 that the vaccines were ‘fully clinically tested’. This is absolutely outrageous and someone must be held to account.
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Dáil Debates, Dáil Issues, Health, Leaders Questions