independent

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Pro-choice campaigners demand referendum

Sinead Healy

There were powerful scenes across the country as women, men and children gathered in solidarity as part of the 'Strike 4 Repeal' movement.

Last Wednesday (March 8th) on International Women's Day crowds gathered in Strandhill Sligo as part of a National strike, calling on the Irish Government to hold a referendum on the country's abortion laws.

Denise O'Toole, Convener of Repeal the 8th Sligo Abortion Rights campaign (ARC) said: "We strike in full confidence of a Repeal of the eighth; we declare the right of the women of the Ireland to be trusted with decisions about their bodies, their health and their lives.

"In every generation the Irish residents have asserted their right to control their bodies, standing on that fundamental right we proclaim the need for free, safe and legal abortion across the Island of Ireland."

It is estimated 12 women leave Ireland every day for legal abortions abroad, for others the only other option is to purchase abortion pills online - something that is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Lorelei Fox-Roberts brought her daughter along to the strike explaining the importance of involving children at a young age.

"I involved her because I don't want her to be defined and limited by this law too.

"I want her to grow up somewhere that she has control over her body," she said.

"I think it is important for her to see at a young age that people can make a difference if they come out on the streets and stand up."

Mary Nellany from Cloonamahon also involved her children in the strike.

"I'm finished having children but I don't want my daughters to die having a baby one day.

"Today is for them so they can have a choice, so they can decide for themselves."

A group of Sligo Grandmothers said they turned up "to fight for women's reproductive rights."

"We were in the fight for contraception in the 70's and we can't believe we are still fighting today, it shouldn't be going on." said Imelda Peppard from West Sligo.

Wendy Winter, who was holding a 'My body My Choice' sign, said she was fighting for women's Independence.

"I think women are not given enough credit for their intelligence and their sense of personal responsibility.

"All the claims you hear about 'if you legalise abortion all women will be rushing off to have abortions' is rubbish, it's a choice you make if you feel it is the right choice and in certain circumstances.

"You should be allowed make that choice, sometimes it's the responsible choice to make.

"Women are treated like second class citizens in this country. I am here to support women in this country who have been fighting for so long to be heard, to be treated like adults if not at least like free independent human beings." added Wendy, echoing the sentiments of many of those who attended the event.

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