On 22nd of October 3 years ago Abortion was decimalised in Northern Ireland along with the legalisation of gay marriage.
On Saturday I was asked by Kieron from Project Choice to speak at the rally for the anniversary of decrim and this is what I had to say:
Hello everyone, thank you so much for coming out today. I am Dearbhail and I am the Belfast Rep for Ulster Universities Pro Choice Society.
Photo By : Brendan Harkin
Today we celebrate how far we have come and we thank everyone who has been fighting the good fight.
Without our volunteers, activist groups and underground networks we won’t be where we are today.
They are the ones who continue to press this issue, who raise awareness, who provide basic services.
We also remember that our basic rights where delivered as an ultimatum to our political parties who can’t even form a government. Our rights where used as blackmail. As leverage.
Even though I am delighting that abortion was decimalised, our basic healthcare rights should have never been violated like this.
WE SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN A PAWN IN THEIR SCHEMES
And while we celebrate all we have achieved; we are aware of the work that still needs to be done.
Abortion has been legal for 3 years now, yet there has been little to no effort by our government to commission these services. Instead they are sitting on a full wage, refusing to sit in Stormont over (let’s face it) the import of fucking sausages.
We deserve services that provide abortions up to 12 weeks across all our trusts.
We deserve training and awareness for all our amazing NHS staff.
We deserve TRUSTED information from an HSC website about abortions.
WE DESERVE THE FULL COMMISSION OF SERVES RIGHT NOW.
While by law, abortion is legal here up to 12 weeks. The reality is much different. Here as we stand today you can access an abortion up to 9 weeks and 6 days. Between 10 and 12 weeks you will have to travel to access an abortion.
THIS IS AN ABSULT JOKE.
WE ARE DONE WITH GETTING ON PLANES.
WE ARE DONE WITH HAVING TO PAY OUT OF POCKET TO ACCESS THESE SERVICES.
Things can also get more complicated for a person of colour who has to travel as many have their immigration status questioned for no good reason, making the whole situation even more stressful.
THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
Latest studies from Amnesty show that only 1 in 10 people know access abortion services.
THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
Abortion should be treated like any other healthcare services. We should have a HSC page like all other procedures which anyone can access for trusted information.
Today our anti-choice friends (have decided to join us) stand outside Cornmarket with misinformation, graphic/false images.
They also protest outside hospitals and clinics terrorising anyone going in regardless of what they are there for.
There is a big difference between freedom of speech and harassing people trying to access healthcare.
How long must this continue.
These same people run fake clinics such as Stanton healthcare. Here they provide false information around abortions and mostly just try delay a person past the 9 week and 6-day mark. Forcing them to travel. This is a clear abuse of power and information.
Why are these clinics still allowed to operate? Why are they holding onto their charity status?
IF THIS WAS FOR ANY OTHER SERVICES THIS PLACE WOULD BE SHUT DOWN.
WE NEED THE FULL COMMISSION OF SERVICES,
WE NEED TRUSTED INFORMATION ABOUT ABORTIONS,
WE NEED TRAINING FOR NHS STAFF,
WE NEED SAFE ZONES OUTSIDE OUR HOSPITALS,
WE NEED THE DUP AND ALL OTHER PARTIES TO STOP SCREWING THE PEOPLE OF NORTHERN IRELAND OVER.
Go raibh maith agat
Photos by : Brendan Harkin
After the rally we attended a workshop in Black Box by Alliance for Choice Derry, Project Choice & UU Pro-Choice Society. The workshop was about Abortion Pills & Stigma.
It's mad to think 3 years ago this kind of information was illegal to share and now we can have workshops on this!
This workshop went into depth about abortion stigma and myths, it was an amazing opportunity to hear about other peoples experience and thoughts on this topic.
The second half was was about abortion pills explaining how the medication works, how to use and get it and everything in-between.
This was a lovely way to spend the anniversary of decrim and I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to put this all together!
I can't wait for the next one!