Coppinger referred to the results of Ireland's recent Marriage Referendum, which legalized gay marriage in Ireland in May and passed officially into law earlier this week, as setting the stage for a new battle: "Obviously there is huge momentum there… we know that the result of the marriage referendum signposted to the future." She also praised a new generation of Irish female activists, saying "it was young people and it was women who swung that referendum."
Watch: The Abortion Pill
Speaking at Central Bank, ROSA members invited any women seeking an abortion to come and speak to them after the rally, so that they could arrange a consultation with Women on Web. The online abortion pill provider is descended from Women on Waves, a group which originally took abortion-seekers out to sea to circumvent laws in different countries. Women on Web help an unknown number of Irish women every year. The number of pills seized at customs is on the rise, and you can find their URL scrawled on the backs of doors in ladies toilets, in bars and nightclubs in every Irish city.
An eighteen-year-old woman spoke about how she had been raped at fourteen and sought an abortion, and they shouted that she had no respect for herself.
Only last year a clinically dead woman's body was kept alive as a 'cadaveric incubator', in order to carry her baby to term. A legal quagmire, Irish abortion law was barely altered after the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died in pain in a Galway hospital in 2012 after being told "this is a Catholic country", and that the abortion which would have saved her life could not be performed. Though technically abortion might be accessed if the pregnant woman is suicidal, instances are rare and the laws surrounding it remain cloudy. Coppinger noted in her speech "It's interesting how in Galway we saw anti-abortion placards talking about endangering women's lives. This, in the same city where a woman died because of the eighth amendment."Transport has played an important role in the underground history of Irish abortions, dating back to the boat used by Women on Waves and the Contraceptive Train of 1971, which saw a team of feminists deliver condoms to an Irish public denied them outside marriage (last year saw ROSA recreate their journey, bringing abortion pills with them instead). We still ship off twelve women per day, on average, for abortions abroad, on Ryanair flights or the ferry or whatever else they can afford.
A clinically dead woman's body was kept alive as a cadaveric incubator in order to carry her baby to term.
Still, the rally ended on an optimistic note: sidestepping the police, ROSA have successfully spread the word in four different cities. The abortion bus brief trended on Irish Twitter, before reverting to talk about rugby. A few streets away a pair of middle-aged men handed out miraculous medals and leaflets about heaven and hell, but the anti-abortion contingent otherwise refrained from making an appearance.The speakers concluded that a referendum can only be a matter of time. Fitzgerald listed Ireland's dark history of the denial of women's rights, but pointed to a brighter future: "The incarceration of women in the Magdalene Laundries, the abuse of women in the state that the Catholic church presided over, that's all in the past. We represent the future, genuine equality and the separation of church and state." The Irish anti-abortion brigade doesn't bother her: "Of course they're ready to mobilize against us, because they realize we can win."
Read More: Meet the Terrorists in the War on Women