Looking back at 2016 March for Choice and forward to 30 Sept


As it’s been almost a year since March for Choice 2016, I decided to reflect on what was to be the first of many protests against the State over my right to choose.

Without much luck considering the weather and bus strike circumstances, it was a wonderful day to be among the 25,000 that marched the streets of Dublin on a rainy Saturday afternoon in September. There was a certain atmosphere that was indescribable, among the thousands of flags, posters, chants, smiles, flares, megaphones and umbrellas it was day that I will never forget. On a National level the March for Choice was something much needed in the media to refocus attention on repealing the Eighth Amendment. With Pro-Life campaigns in full swing, between leaflets at churches and canvassers at my door, a show of strength - of young people like me mobilising, was needed to make it very clear that they are the receding tide.

Being a 20 year old woman in 2017 Ireland, it’s difficult to ignore how personal and important this amendment is to me. I felt the only way I could be heard by country, many of my peers, my “representatives”, was to walk the streets and demand my basic reproductive rights.

Among my peers, the topic seems only ever to come up in quite short-lived (generally drunken) conversations. There is so much confusion, and a general hesitance to reflect on the realities and injustice of modern Ireland. Still once the arguments have been hashed out, there is never any avoiding the hard cold facts and statistics that cannot be ignored (even though they are in mainstream media).

That, on average, 77 of our Irish sisters, neighbours, comrades, colleagues, shop assistants, daughters, nieces, aunts leave the shores weekly, often alone without support, as a form of solitary punishment, travelling to have a procedure that would make them a criminal in their own home.

That in the event of a crisis pregnancy, of an unwanted pregnancy, or a fatal foetal abnormality, Ireland expects a person to make the arrangements to travel at their own costs, while the Government turns a blind eye. Apart from these “choices” that Irish women have in 2016 Ireland, they are left with having to continuing her pregnancy to full term.

When I sat down and really thought about the Eighth Amendment and who it's really affecting, it saddened me greatly. To point out that if someone "really wanted an abortion that badly they'd hop on the boat to England" is an obscene excuse, an apology for a national oppression, and a basic negation of responsibility. To have a law that singles out and puts working class women and trans folk, and illegal migrants at even more of a disadvantage is even more inhumane. The idea of being ashamed about the 77 people that leave the country each week, so that they can exact a basic control over their own body is a religious fundamentalist opinion that unfortunately holds sway among some people in Ireland.

To put it as plainly as they do on their website, Pro Life Campaigners believe that "All human beings possess an equal and inherent worth simply by virtue of their humanity." This is exactly what we as Pro choice believe, and I don't understand why they are subjecting the working class and the migrants of this country to have unwanted, potentially unhealthy children.

At the march I saw a lot of different perspectives, speaking to different people about why they believe in Bodily Autonomy, and Ireland without the Eighth Amendment.

Being 20 I guess I've never really understood the idea of parenting, and definitely take for granted my upbringing and the heros of parents I have. Talking to new mothers and fathers I realised that parenting becomes part of who you are as a human being, it changes your life completely. It is such a tough, brave, sacrifice to make in your life, and I feel nobody should ever have that decision made for them.

The idea of celebrating the 8th Amendment makes me sick to my stomach. Why do they have more respect for the unborn than the women that are living and suffering?

The indoctrination of Catholicism in Irish society over the past (800) years has had a massive influence on the legal system in Ireland, and I don't think this is any different.

To think that less than 50 years ago women had to quit their job when they married shows that Ireland is progressing (however slow that may be) .

In the FAQ section of the pro life campaign website (which is a great read) the writers implore Christopher Hitchens as a sort of mascot of a modern day, atheist pro-lifer, with the caption "Are you imposing your beliefs on others?"

In my opinion, you may not be imposing your beliefs regarding religion, but it is you making the choice to keep the eighth amendment in place that leaves women with no other option than to leave the country, or have an abortion illegally, or worst of all, have an unwanted child.

They also have a piece about the late Savita Halappanavar, accusing the mainstream media of getting the facts all wrong. "It is no exaggeration to say that RTE followed the line taken by the Irish Times, in effect channelling the public distress and concern at the death of Savita so that it reinforced the Government’s insistence that legislation for abortion."

I actually found that rebuttal quite humourous, seeing as up until about eighteen months ago the large amount of society were oblivious that people were leaving the country in droves to find help abroad.

Marching with the WSM really opened my eyes as to how anarchists respect bodily autonomy.
It is integral to treat the people capable of childbearing in the Ireland of 2016 with utmost respect, and equality, in fact it is the basic tenant of any decent, humane society.

The 25,000 people that marched on the streets of Dublin are the ones who make me proud to live here.


This year’s “March for Choice” takes place on September 30th