On Saturday, tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Dublin to demand that women across the country be granted access to abortion. Ireland will be holding a referendum next year to potentially repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the world, and the opportunity to play a role in helping Irish women take control of their own reproductive rights is why so many women in Ireland joined the March For Choice this year.
The Eighth Amendment, established in the 1980s, states that unborn children have an equal right to life as their mothers, which makes abortion illegal in all but the most exceptional circumstances. In fact, it wasn't until 2013 that the country allowed the procedure to take place in cases where the mother’s life is in danger.
The country's strict laws push as many as 3,000 Irish women to travel to neighboring Britain each year to have an abortion, according to a recent study by the British Department of Health. This has galvanized women to take part in the annual March For Choice each year, but given that next year's referendum could very well completely re-shape Irish anti-abortion laws, this year's march is more urgent than ever.
“The referendum has kind of encouraged people to come out," a 27-year-old marcher told the New York Times.
Here's why other women decided to march for their rights.
1. Because Everyone Should Be Able To Access Abortion
2. Because Women Should Have Control
3. Because No One Should Have To Cross A Border For Reproductive Rights
4. Because Women Should Have Options
5. Because Women Have Died
6. Because Women Need Free, Safe, Legal Abortion
7. Because Women Deserve More
8. Because Decades Of Protests Should Lead To Change
9. Because The Whole Damn System Is Wrong
10. Because Irish Women Need Support
11. Because This Is Not The Handmaid's Tale
12. Because Women Deserve Dignity
13. Because Women Should Be Trusted To Make Their Own Decisions
14. Because Basic Human Rights Are Within Reach
15. Because Women Should Not Be Sacrificed
16. Because Young Women Demand Equality
17. Because My Uterus Is My Business
18. Because Some Women Can't Afford To Travel
19. Because Women Should Not Be Denied Health Care
20. Because Women's Rights Should Not Be Refused
21. Because Women Want Bodily Autonomy
22. Because Ovaries Are No Place For Rosaries
23. Because Women Are More Than Their Wombs
Given Ireland's strict anti-abortion laws, thousands of Irish women each year are left without the opportunity to access safe, afforable health care. For many women, the consequences of this can be devastating.
The March for Choice was a powerful reminder that despite these challenges, so many women across the country are standing together to support one another and collectively raise their voices to ensure that reproductive rights are at the forefront of national dialogue.