Sunday 17 December 2017

'Abortion pill bus' gets calls from women

Leah O’Mahony and Rose Whelan before they boarded the Abortion Pill Bus, which was leaving Dublin
Leah O’Mahony and Rose Whelan before they boarded the Abortion Pill Bus, which was leaving Dublin

Caroline Crawford and Emma Jane Hade

Organisers of the abortion pill bus, which is travelling around Ireland, say they have received calls from women all over the country seeking assistance.

Socialist party TD Ruth Coppinger, who travelled on the bus, said economic worries were a huge concern for women contacting the organisers.

"Most of the women contacting us regarding the abortion pill have children already and they simply feel they can't have any more for various reasons," she said.

The bus left Dublin yesterday morning after a small rally.

It then travelled to Galway and Limerick, providing information on how to buy abortion pills, along with online consultations with Dr Rebecca Gomperts, founder of Women on Web.

It will move on to Cork this morning, before arriving back in Dublin this afternoon.

Rita Harrold, a spokesperson for reproductive rights group Rosa, said the group had received calls from over a dozen women seeking information, with a further 10 women entering the bus in Galway. She added that it had more appointments booked for Limerick and Cork.

Arriving in Galway an hour behind schedule, the bus suffered a further setback when gardaí informed organisers it could not park at the Spanish Arch. The bus was eventually parked nearby at the Claddagh, directly in front of St Mary's Dominican Church.

Up to 50 people turned out in the city to greet the bus and support calls to repeal the 8th Amendment.

Lisa Bizire from Dingle, who boarded the bus, said she wanted to show her support for the campaign.

"It's important for women to have these services," she said.

However, a small group of protesters also attended the event. Maria Maloney said she joined the protest to ensure that no woman was provided with abortion pills on the bus.

"We want to ensure that no women are put in danger by these pills. Some of the group had called the gardaí and they monitored the event so we are happy nobody was endangered."

Organisers insisted that the pills would not be distributed on board, but women who have a consultation and want them will receive them in the coming days.

Speaking at the Dublin rally, Ms Coppinger said the journey was aimed at highlighting "the option of safe abortion".

She said that the group had "a lot of requests from women to avail of this service, in full public glare. That will show you how desperate women are."

However, Dr Ruth Cullen from the pro-life campaign branded the event as the "latest publicity stunt" from Deputy Coppinger.

She added: "It is an incredibly dangerous and irresponsible one that puts the lives of women at serious risk."

Irish Independent

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