Tens of thousands march for Irish abortion rights

Tens of thousands march for Irish abortion rights

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Tens of thousands of people have marched through the streets of Dublin to call for a change to Ireland’s strict abortion laws.

It’s the first big rally since the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said a referendum could be held on the section of the state’s constitution that ensures tight legal restrictions on terminations.

The vote will take place in May or June next year, shortly before a visit from Pope Francis.

Abortion is currently illegal in the Republic of Ireland, except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger.

However, women are allowed to travel abroad for termination, with around 4,000 coming to Britain every year for a legal abortion.

Image: The demonstration is the first since Irish PM Leo Varadkar suggested the vote

Crowds of pro-choice campaigners met at Parnell Square and marched through the city up to the gates of the Irish parliament, waving placards and chanting. A smaller march was also held outside the Irish Embassy in London.

Anti-abortion activists also organised events across the country.

Pro-life campaigner Niamh Ui Bhriain told Sky News: “Most people in this country do not agree with abortion on demand, and most do not agree with those who are marching today.”

Also speaking to Sky News, Irish senator and pro-choice supporter Aodhan O’Riordain said: “This is an issue of choice. What we want is for the people to have their say.

“People have a right to abortion information and a right to travel to have an abortion, yet we don’t have that facility in Ireland. That time has come.”

A March for Choice also took place in London

Image: A pro-choice march also took place in London

Although abortion has always been illegal in Ireland, it was adopted in the constitution in 1983, with support from 67% of voters in the predominantly Catholic country.

The Eighth Amendment affords equal rights to pregnant women and unborn children.

There are calls for that amendment to be replaced or amended to jointly focus on termination of pregnancy, rights of the unborn and pregnant women’s rights.

Women convicted of having an illegal termination can be jailed for up to 14 years.

The United Nations has described Ireland’s abortion laws – which are some of the strictest in Europe – as “cruel and inhumane”.

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