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The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) will lead a student bloc at Saturday’s Action on X protest at 4pm, which will gather at Central Bank.

USI believes that access to safe and legal abortions in Ireland is critical to advancing gender equality and the position of women in Irish society.

USI has criticised the general scheme of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

USI calls for the implementation of  X legislation that does as much as it can to protect women. It must include:

• The risk of suicide as grounds for abortion;

• The opinions of no more than two medical practitioners to approve an abortion;

• State-wide access;

• Access to abortion if a foetus has a fatal abnormality and cannot survive;

• Decriminalisation of abortion.

The Union of Students in Ireland reaffirmed its pro-choice mandate at its annual Congress last March and also supports calls for the repealing of the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution.

Laura Harmon, USI Vice President for Equality and Citizenship, who will be speaking at the rally, said:

”The right to access abortions in Ireland is very much a student issue. UK Department of Health statistics show that approximately one quarter of women who give Irish addresses when availing of abortion services in the UK are between the ages of 18-24.

Irish women are more likely to receive surgical abortions. Surgical abortions are more invasive than medical abortions, which are available up to 9 weeks. The reason for this is a lack of information and also the time it takes to organise travelling to another country.

This is a class issue. It costs at least €1,000 to travel to England from Ireland for an abortion, covering clinic costs, travel costs and accommodation. Students and many women simply do nothave ready access to this kind of money. The failure to provide services in Ireland creates considerable psychological, physical and financial hardship for those who either are forced to travel outside the country for abortion or forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term because of the restrictions imposed on them.

Ireland has an absolutely shameful track record as regards how we treat women and how we treat pregnant women. We only have to look at the Magdalene Laundries; women being forced to have their children taken from them; our history of putting women into psychiatric hospitals, and at the women who had to undergo symphysiotomy procedures in Irish hospitals. X legislation is just the beginning and USI will continue to campaign for a repeal of the 8th amendment.”

 For more information, contact USI VP for Equality and Citizenship Laura Harmon: 086 1738455

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