On Thursday 29th November, protesters from Together4Yes groups, Abortions Rights Campaign (ARC), Migrants and Ethnic-Minorities for Reproductive Justice (MERJ) and the general public, gathered outside Leinster in protest over the proposed legislation around abortion services being discussed. Issues were held over the inclusion of the 3-day waiting period and the failure of the legislation to fully decriminalise abortion for doctors.
Speaking to the University Observer, a member of the Abortion Rights Campaign said “the focus is on the bill that has been passing through the Dáil since the first stage. There are some problems with the bill still. There is a lot of disappointment with the way the legislation is shaping up.”
“It is really disappointing to see that they are going to hold onto the three day waiting period, for example, when it’s been proven that there is no medical need. It’s just a punitive punishment for people. It’s meant to demean people and undermine their decision making ability. It’s punishment upon punishment for somebody who is probably in a crisis situation.”
Speaking to the crowd of people gathered outside, Ruth Coppinger TD said that the amendments surrounding conscientious objection would be the last to be discussed. She remained skeptical that the vote would be carried out before 9pm and would have to be held next Tuesday.
The ARC think that conscientious objections from doctors is an obstacle facing free, safe and legal access to abortions, in that it “is a very dangerous precedent to start to bring in. In countries like Italy, what happens when people have the option of conscientious objection, what results is almost no access because doctors are so afraid. There is almost a chilling effect that occurs because of that, and so if that prevails then it can be a dangerous trend.”
“We need to make sure that doctors have training and support and have access to all the information that they need, and that people all over the country, in cities or in rural areas, can access the healthcare that they need. This is obviously very time sensitive healthcare. Realistically, it needs to be as early as possible and as late as necessary.”
The issue of how this legislation would affect migrant communities living in Ireland was also highlighted at the rally. Speaking to the University Observer, representatives from the MERJ said that people living under direct provision were particularly at risk, as they could not afford to travel to receive abortion services. There is a particular concern amongst people living under direct provision, especially surrounding the discuss of conscientious objection, where “the doctor on your medical card may not want to treat you.”