Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Dublin today in a demonstration against the country’s restrictive abortion law, which criminalizes terminations — even in cases involving rape, incest, or fatal fetal abnormality.
The “March for Choice” followed a route through the city center of the Irish capital, and saw many women and men pulling suitcases behind them, a gesture meant to symbolize the estimated 10 to 12 women who travel to the UK each day for abortions.
The marchers called for the repeal of the Irish Constitution’s eighth amendment — introduced in 1983 — which says that an unborn child’s right to life is equal to that of its mother.
In recent weeks, high-profile Irish women, including Irish Times columnist Roisin Ingle and comedian Tara Flynn, have gone public about their abortions, provoking debate across the country and ensuring that the issue will remain a heated topic of discussion in the run up to next year’s general election.
“Having a baby that first time would not have been best for me,” Ingle wrote. “I have not had one scrap of regret or shame about what I did.”
“45% are in favour of allowing all women access to abortion in Ireland as they choose.”
The Irish Government is under growing pressure to reform its anti-abortion law, one of the most restrictive in the world, Amnesty International said today as it published results of an opinion poll on public attitudes to abortion in Ireland.
The poll, carried out for Amnesty International by RED C Research and Marketing, shows that the majority of people in Ireland are not aware that abortion is a criminal offence. The vast majority disagree with the current criminal sanctions for women who have abortions – or doctors who provide abortions.
Asked whether the Irish Government should decriminalise abortion, 67% agreed and 25% disagreed. 81% are in favour of significantly widening the grounds for legal abortion access in Ireland.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said:
“It is clear that Irish views on abortion have undergone a major transformation. People in Ireland are now, on the whole, more understanding of the situations women find themselves in and firmly believe that women should not be criminalised for having an abortion.
“Only a third of Irish people polled were aware that it is a criminal offence for a woman to access abortion here unless her life is at risk. Even with the long debate over Ireland’s 2013 abortion law, less than one in 10 were aware that a woman who has an abortion could face a 14-year prison sentence.
“This poll demonstrates that on the issue of abortion Ireland’s people are clearly way ahead of their government leaders. The conversation we urgently need in Ireland on abortion is a challenging one, but it must happen. The Irish Government should put this issue to the people as a matter of priority. Decriminalising abortion is not only a human rights obligation – it is what people in Ireland want. And this means repealing the 8th Amendment.”.
People aged 65 or over were the least aware that abortion is a criminal offence (82%). Those aged over 55 disagreed most with the possible 14 year jail term for women. Colm O’Gorman said: “This age group tends to be the least in favour of widening access to abortion, but clearly they have even greater awareness of the brutality of this penalty.”
Read full article: www.amnesty.ie