Tomorrow, 8th March is International Women’s Day – celebrating the social, political and economic achievements of women, as well as promoting equal rights. Much of the celebrations this year in Ireland will focus on the abortion debate with both the pro-choice and pro-life groups staging events.
One of the largest events taking place is ROSA‘s ‘Bus 4 Repeal‘ which began in Dublin yesterday. The bus, along with over 30 activists is currently travelling around the country to various cities and universities. Information is being given out on safe abortion pills and how to access them. This is being provided by Women on Web, an online organisation who send abortion pills to women in countries where abortion is not available. They also offer support and advice from doctors. Representatives from the organisation are on the bus with the activists.
There are pro-choice rallies at each stop to make further impact. Aisling Grace is a pro-choice activist and is currently travelling around the country on the bus with ROSA. She spoke to The Circular from the bus about the purpose of the event and its developments so far as it reaches the halfway mark.
On one level it’s to raise awareness of the abortion pill, on how easily available it is and how easy it is to use. We’re also actively campaigning for a change in the law – we want the 8th repealed. We’re ignoring the law in providing this access. It’s a 14 year prison sentence for anyone who procures an abortion or for anyone who assists them. By openly doing this we are challenging the law.
The rallies have been great. Everywhere we have stop there have been another pro-choice group to meet us and team up. There was the UCD pro-choice society and some of the student union members who are pro-choice showed up. There is loads of support behind the campaign, in Cork the pro-choice side out-numbered anti-choice by about 8/1.
At our first stop we were greeted by an opposition group portraying graphic images and they’ve arrived at every other stop since. They are not being confrontational but have come up to us with questions so they can engage in a debate. They are also recording us using body cameras, they’re saying it’s for their own security but I think they have hidden agendas, maybe to make us look bad.
Having the opposition there is really getting other people involved. When people who are somewhat supportive see this group shouting across the road at us it lights a fire in them too. It’s mostly been extremely supportive. Even when we go in to local cafes along the way you can really see that.
Three women everyday order these abortion pills from Women on Web, that’s just Ireland alone and excluding those who travel. To pretend that abortion isn’t happening in Ireland is such a fallacy. Our country’s current policy is unsafe and it shames women.
ROSA will be in NUI Galway and NUI Maynooth tomorrow before the tour finishes up in Dublin outside the Central Bank at 3pm.
There are plenty of other events happening across the country tomorrow for International Women’s Day including ‘A Celebration of the Arts‘ in the National Concert Hall and ‘Reading Women‘ which will take place in Co. Kilkenny.