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.
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.”
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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
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/).