Thousands are expected to gather at the annual Rally for Life on Saturday, where speakers will urge the government to take action to tackle "surging abortion numbers" after new figures show that 8,156 abortions took place in 2022.
The pro-life gathering takes place in the context of what organisers describe as a "steep and disturbing" rise in the number of abortions taking place in Ireland - and the introduction of legislation which would see the law radically expanded to allow abortion until 6 months gestation.
Billed as the biggest pro-life event of the year, the Rally packs O'Connell Street each year before hearing from speakers at Custom House Quay.
"We now know that the abortion numbers jumped 22% last year," Rally for Life spokeswoman Megan Ní Scealláin said. "There were 8,156 abortions in 2022 - up from an estimated 6700 the previous year. This rise is both steep and deeply disturbing - and it's also heartbreaking."
"Are women being led to believe that abortion is the only option?" she asked. "The numbers are a shocking indictment of the government's failure to support women. Yet they are doing nothing to tackle this appalling rise in the abortion numbers."
She said that the government needed to take urgent action to tackle the spiralling abortion rate - and that it was "almost beyond belief that a strategy that would increase the abortion rate further was instead being considered".
"We're seeing calls for the 3-day wait before abortion to be scrapped - even though about 4,000 women between 2019-2022 did not return for an abortion after the 3 day period of reflection," she said. "Why would anyone want to increase the number of abortions? Why not give women time to think - and help women to have their babies instead?"
"One of the messages coming from the Rally is that TDs are being reminded that they promised voters in 2018 that the 3-day wait would be a 'safeguard' - and that the pro-life movement is reminding voters that scrapping that provision would be a breach of promise to voters," she said.
Ms Ní Scealláin said it was also concerning to see government Ministers voting in favor of a bill proposed by Bríd Smith TD which would legalise abortion on demand right up to 6 months gestation.
"We were told abortion would be rare and that there would be safeguards - and now we're seeing rocketing rates of abortion and a rush to expand the abortion law even further," she said. "There have been more than 30,000 abortions in Ireland so far - more than the population of Kilkenny city."
She said that the many thousands attending the Rally would return with leaflets and posters for local campaigns which would urge voters to contact TDs in relation to Ms Smith's bill and the retention of the 3-day wait.
Amongst those addressing the rally this year will be Consultant Obstetrician Dr Trevor Hayes, who says that pro-life medical professionals will not be bullied into providing abortions. Doctors for Life have said that any move to scrap the 3-day wait period would "not only be a betrayal of voters, but worse still, a dereliction of duty to mothers and babies.”
"The Rally - and the summer campaign - will hold the government to account for the promises they made on this issue, and inform voters on how to keep their TDS to that promise, - while urging them to take action to tackle the appalling abortion rate," the Rally spokeswoman said.
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