Abortion campaigners to bring #BusForChoice to Derry tomorrow

ROSA NI campaigners in Belfast recently as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn made his first visit to Northern Ireland as party leader.
ROSA NI campaigners in Belfast recently as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn made his first visit to Northern Ireland as party leader.

A socialist feminist group have announced plans for a “defiant” visit to Derry tomorrow with a ‘Bus for Choice’ following the results of the Referendum in the Republic.

The group ROSA and Women on Web are planning to gather in Guildhall Square at 5pm on Thursday as they bring their #Bus4Choice to the city.

During the visit, they will call for an Extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to include Northern Ireland.

The move comes after people across the Republic voted by around two to one to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution on Friday last, paving the way for new legislation for the termination of pregnancies.

Organisers have said that in conjunction with the Netherlands-based, doctor-run womenonweb.org, the #Bus4Choice will “defy Northern Ireland’s archaic abortion laws by providing information and access to safe abortions with pills under medical supervision”.

In a statement issued by the group, they said: “ROSA and Women on Web organised important acts of civil disobedience in the South using abortion pills including the Abortion Pills Train and #Bus4Repeal.

“These acts of civil disobedience, along with supplying women with pills, have been instrumental in shifting the debate on abortion in Ireland, demonstrating that abortion is a daily reality in Ireland.

“In the aftermath of the repeal referendum, ROSA and Women on Web are announcing their plan for a similar action in Northern Ireland on Thursday May 31, 2018.”

The #Bus4Choice will start with a rally in Belfast before travelling travel to the constituency offices of prominent ‘pro-life’ MLAs and MPs from the the main politicial parties here to “protest in support of extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland”.

The day of action will end with the rally at 5pm at the Guildhall Square in Derry.

Dr Rebecca Gomperts from Women On Web and one of the participants on the bus said: “The scientific research that showed that at least three women do their own abortion at home in Ireland every day has catalysed the debate towards legalisation in Ireland. Northern Ireland should follow suit and get in line with the laws of the UK and the rest of Europe.”

Another participant on the bus, Ruth Coppinger TD (Socialist Party), a prominent pro-choice campaigner and leading figure in ROSA, stated; “The referendum in the South wasn’t granted to people by a benevolent political establishment, it was fought for by a movement of women, young people and ordinary people. Actions by ROSA and Women on Web were key to showing that the use of abortion pills is a reality in Ireland and this pushed the government to promise pro-choice legislation, including unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks.

“Campaigners in the North helped us in our referendum campaign, now we are happy to return the favour, and support them in their struggle for the right to choose.”

Eleanor Crossey-Malone, an organiser with ROSA in Northern Ireland, concluded; “We have won an important victory for the right to choose in the South. It now means Northern Ireland stands almost alone in Europe in maintaining archaic abortion laws. We are not going to be left behind. While local politicians may be hostile to a woman’s right to choose, 54 per cent of the population support the right of women to have unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks. Like in the South, we can force politicians to change their tune. The #Bus4Choice action is the first step in a sustained campaign.”