Large crowds protest at US embassy in Dublin over abortion ruling

Large crowds protest at US embassy in Dublin over abortion ruling

Orla O'Brien and Tanya Miller protested the decision to overturn Roe v Wade at the US Embassy Ballsbridge. Picture: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Large crowds attended a protest at the United States embassy in Dublin after the constitutional right to abortion in the US was removed by the nation's highest court.

The US Supreme Court ruling, handed down on Friday, ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place for nearly 50 years by deciding to overturn the landmark Roe v Wade ruling.

It is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half of US states.

The protest at the embassy in Dublin heard speeches from activists about how the US can learn from Ireland's 2018 referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment and liberalise its abortion laws.

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith compared the restrictions on abortion laws to gun regulations in the US.

"It's alright to control women's bodies but don't control access to guns," she said. "I have no doubt that that ruling will embolden the anti-choicers in this country and elsewhere. We still have a way to go.

"Repeal was a massive victory, it was won by people power throughout this country over many years," she said, adding that better access to abortion is still needed in Ireland.

Watch this space: the right-wing in Dáil Éireann, and outside Dáil Éireann, will try to chip away at meagre access."

Sinead Kennedy, of the Action for Choice group, told those who had gathered that after decades of solidarity from people in the US and around the world over Ireland's strict abortion laws, "it is time that we paid that back".

"We've seen this disgusting judgement that basically has said that women and pregnant people are now second-class citizens in the United States," she said.

"This flies in the face of one of the core things that we've come to realise in the last decade - that control over your own body, over your own person is one of the core and fundamental rights. You cannot exist as a free human being in this society without that fundamental right.

"This is not 1973, it's not the 1950s, there are reasons to be optimistic," she said.

Ailbhe Smyth, a feminist and LGBT rights activist, told the crowd the ruling is "a mockery of freedom, a mockery of justice, a mockery of equality for women".

"What we saw the unelected members of the Supreme Court of the United States of America do and declare the other day in their ruling on Roe v Wade was to declare a war on women.

Binna Ma attended the protest to express solidarity with all the women and girls who will be impacted by the decision. Picture: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Binna Ma attended the protest to express solidarity with all the women and girls who will be impacted by the decision. Picture: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

"This is incredibly, incredibly serious. We talk about this as being a rollback. It is not a rollback of one law or one right, this is a rollback in the way in which the whole democracy of the United States of America works. Everywhere across the world, we have to be those who stand in absolute solidarity with the many people in the US... who are every bit as disgusted.

"I think of the distress, I think of the suffering, I think of the anxiety, the anguish that so many people are experiencing as we stand here outside the US embassy.

"I hope they're listening to what we're saying, because no country should ever condemn women or anyone to those levels of suffering and anguish," she said.

Speaking on RTÉ programme The Week In Politics, Minister of State Mary Butler said the issue is a "very, very divisive" one and will continue to be debated in the US.

Ms Butler campaigned for a No vote in the referendum on whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

"We took that decision in Ireland in 2018 and we embedded it in our constitution," she said. 

"Whether you're in favour of it or not, the people spoke quite clearly from a majority of two-to-one, and abortion is a reality here in Ireland.

"What I do say, and everybody would have known my position in relation to the referendum, but I would be very, very fearful now of the amount of illegal abortions that will take place in (the US)," she said.

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