By Barry Lord @
Repeal the 8th is an issue of increasing importance to families with young children, men and the elderly – keen to support Irish women as they fight for the right to abortion.
Karen McHugh from Dublin is just one mother who is teaching her children, three young boys, that women should be given the right to decide what happens after a crisis pregnancy.
Karen took her three sons Dylan, 10, Oisin, 8 and Luan, 5, to the fifth annual March for Choice in Dublin on Saturday.
She was a visible sight in the sea of 25,000 who attended the huge protest call to repeal the law that restricts women from gaining the right to terminations. But she was by no means alone. Karen was one of many parents with young children at the event.
She took the children, young boys, with her, to allow them a greater understanding of what the law entails and why it is being so vigorously contested.
“The kids have never been on a march before and I was telling them that this law doesn’t allow women to make a choice about whether or not they can terminate a pregnancy,” Karen told Irelandtodaynews.com.
“It’s a law that doesn’t take into account individual circumstances. We could be talking about a very young girl, or someone in an abusive relationship.
“What are we telling our kids with this law? They see that women can’t make a choice to terminate a pregnancy in this country, but they can go to England to have it done. It’s a difficult one to explain to kids.”
Nevertheless, Karen believes that her children should have the awareness of these issues, regardless of the complexity and divisive nature of the debate.
“It’s important that they know. We speak very frankly with our children. They understand that women don’t have the same rights as men do in many instances. They know this should be challenged and that’s why they’re marching.”
It is notable when Karen talks about her children, she smiles and resonates a feeling of contentment in motherhood.
She clearly knows the ultimate value of being a mother – but she also realises that a crisis pregnancy can create a horrific situation for a young mother.
Her young boys seem content to follow their mother on the march and they are instrumental of a continuing campaign to change public opinion across Ireland.
The very number of marchers showed how much support the Repeal the 8th campaign now has and must place pressure on the state to address the law, or at least arrange a referendum.
Mothers and fathers made a day out of the march with their children and one heavily pregnant woman attended with friends, waving placards.
There was also a large number of men of differing ages taking part in the march. One man walked alone down O’Connell Street wearing a Repeal black and white T-shirt as the rain soaked him and the army of campaigners.
Other men, young and old, supported their wives, girlfriends and friends. But notably a large number of men were out to shout for the rights of women on their own.
One very famous male face in the crowd was Peaky Blinders actor Cillian Murphy, who smiled as he was caught on camera by a fellow marcher.
Maria, 65 and her husband Anthony, from Dublin, attended to show their support for a campaign that has been long running.
“I marched in 1985 for the same thing – women’s right to choose and we’re still marching today,” said Maria.
“But what’s amazing is the number of people who turned out for this. It’s lifted me and I’m so happy.
“When we did it in ‘85, there were about 300 people there and we were shouted out by passers-by and called all the names you can think of. But it didn’t put me off marching over the years. This law has to change.”
Anthony agreed wholeheartedly with his wife’s views and appealed for more understanding and compassion.
“We’re here to support our fellow human beings,” said Anthony. “It’s a woman’s choice and who am I to interfere with a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body? It’s all about doing the right thing at the end of the day.”
If you are suffering a crisis pregnancy log on to http://www.here2help.ie/crisis-pregnancy/abortion-2-2/help-for-women/ for advice.