Galway Pro-Choice is gearing up for the annual March For Choice in Dublin on Saturday. Galway Pulse spoke to Nikita Carragher from the group to hear what they’re marching for.
The group, Galway Pro-Choice is a grassroots feminist-led organisation that has campaigned for abortion rights since 2012. The annual March For Choice is a protest rally organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign.
This year’s theme is Abortion on Demand, Without Apology. Nikita explains how important it is to keep fighting for these rights. “It is a bittersweet thing as we’re very proud of Repeal but at the same time we haven’t fully achieved it, we’re still fighting for it,” she stated.
Barriers to abortion
She tells Galway Pulse that there are still many barriers in the way of free, safe, and legal abortion in Ireland. In 2021, “206 people still had to travel for an abortion.”
“In the cases of fatal fetal abnormality it’s often the case now that they’re still having to travel as the access for care is just not there,” she said.
The Galway Pro-Choice group call on the government to review the three-day wait period before accessing abortion care, as well as the 12-week limit for abortion.
“We want the Government to see how restrictive the legislation actually is and how people are left behind. When we were fighting for Repeal we included all these people and they’re being left behind,” said Nikita.
“Those who are not able to travel are forced to stay pregnant. People who don’t have PPS numbers are forced to stay,” she explains.
Nikita voices concerns that it is the most vulnerable people, who are neglected in this legislation. For example, those living in Direct Provision or people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who do not have the means to travel.
Galway Pro-Choice also feels that criminalisation is a major issue.
“Criminalisation needs to be taken out of the legislation. Abortion is still criminalised, people who have gone over 12 weeks and sought help can still face criminalisation as well as health care providers.
“Health should not be a crime,” Nikita said.
Nikita speaks about how contentious objections can affect those in rural Ireland more where fewer services are available. “If there is a contentious objection there must be a referral to someone else in their area,” she said.
March to remember
The group is also marching to remember Savita Halappanavar who died in Galway in 2012 after her request for an abortion was denied.
“It is very important to remember Savita, and that should never happen again. It is slowly becoming a possibility with this restrictive legislation that it could happen again,” said Nikita.
Finally, Nikita mentions the importance of the government paying attention. “We’re asking the Government at this march to see that we need this legislation to be better and we need it to be more accessible.”