ON the 6th of March, the Bus 4 Repeal for Repeal will start it’s cross-country journey in UCD. Organised by Rosa Ireland, their website states that the bus plans to “defy the abortion ban, as a source of information and access to safe abortions with pills, in conjunction with the pro-choice doctor-led Netherlands organisation, WomenOnWeb.org.”
The service looks to give out information regarding repealing of the Eighth Amendment. According to the event’s Facebook page, the bus also looks to “[provide] information and access to safe abortions with pills, including via a Skype hook up with WomenOnWeb doctors.”
The service was discussed at last week’s UCDSU council meeting in the Fitzgerald Chamber. Speaking to the Observer before the SU meeting, O’Mara stated that she was “never told” about the Women on Web connection when the scheme was first proposed by Rosa. “It was my understanding it was going to just be information about and regarding the Eighth Amendment,” she clarified.
The bus will make UCD its first stop on Monday the 6th of March before making its way to Waterford IT and Cork City before the end of the day. From there it will continue to UCC, UL and other universities before arriving back in Dublin on the 8th of March in time for the planned Strike4Repeal general strike.
Women on Web is an online service that gives Irish women an opportunity to acquire the pills necessary for a medical abortion, which are otherwise inaccessible and illegal in Ireland. The website requires you to fill in an online questionnaire, stating that you need access to a local hospital or GP if you wish to use the service. The pills cannot be sent directly to a Republic of Ireland address, and so first have to be sent to Britain or Northern Ireland. A mandatory donation of €70 to €90 is required.
Above: an example of a Women on Web’s doctor instructions.
O’Mara also stated that the service was “incredibly illegal.” She claimed she only became aware of the aspects such as the Skype consultation and pill access after a thejournal.ie article on the issue was released on the 1st of February.
Speaking at council, O’Mara stated that the SU “aren’t tied” to the bus, and don’t have the direct power to stop it.
Women on Web provide access to tablets called Mifepristone and Misoprostol, which are cleared for home medical abortion use by the World Health Organisation (WHO). A WHO report from 2011 states that “there is no evidence that home-based medical abortion is less effective, safe or acceptable than clinic-based medical abortion,” though it also notes that “adequate safety measures and support systems should be in place before home-based medical abortion can be offered.”
The Observer has contacted Rosa about whether the pills will be provided on campus or via post, but they are yet to respond.
Nonetheless, O’Mara stressed the need for a reputable source for pill acquisition, and she stated that the SU can “[make it clear] we don’t endorse the illegal distribution of pills from a non-reputable source.”
The SU are set to vote on whether or not they will support the Bus 4 Repeal bus at the next council meeting on 20th of February.
UPDATED: this is an edited version of the news story which appeared on universityobserver.ie on the morning of February 16th, and which also appeared in the February 14th print edition.