Thousands of abortion activists expected at 'March for Choice'
Up to 10,000 activists are expected to join the fourth annual ‘March for Choice’ this Saturday in Dublin City Centre, according to organisers.
The Abortion Rights Campaign said supporters from all over the county, as well as Spain, Iceland and Sweden, will call on the government to repeal the eight amendment to the constitution.
The march was organised to protest against the new legislation on abortion which was introduced in 2013 in the aftermath of the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar.
Cathleen Doherty, a spokesperson for the Abortion Rights Campaign, said the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act does nothing to help the majority of women in need of an abortion in Ireland, but adds the threat of 14 years in prison.
"Only 26 women were granted a legal abortion last year while thousands went abroad,” she said.
“This new legislation doesn't help women who have been given a fatal foetal diagnosis, women who were victims of incest or rape, women whose health will suffer as a result of their pregnancy and women who want choice.
“Women should be free to make the right choices for themselves. A woman isn’t able to prioritise her own health over a pregnancy. Doctors have to try and work out what exactly constitutes a risk to life and fear facing criminal charges."
Figures released by the Irish Family Planning Association showed 3,735 women travelled to the UK for abortion services last year.
Meanwhile 1,000 abortion pills were also seized by customs in 2014, meaning women who may be unable to travel abroad due to their economic or political status, are still trying to access abortion in Ireland illegally and may face criminal prosecutions as a result.
Ms Doherty said she hopes the march will force the government to consider repealing the eight amendment and take steps toward providing free, safe and legal access to Irish women
“If politicians want to secure our vote in the upcoming general election, they must pledge to Repeal the 8th Amendment,” she said.
TD Clare Daly spoke out in support of the campaign.
“It is the political establishment that remain as the key barrier to delivering a Repeal of the 8th Amendment. If it had been left to the population, this issue would have been dealt with long ago. Abortion is a private health matter between a woman and her doctor and should have no place in the Constitution,” she added.