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Ireland abortion law: Mass march in Dublin

Tens of thousands of people have marched in Ireland to protest against the country’s strict abortion law. Until fairly recently, terminations were illegal even if carrying the baby put the life of the mother at risk.

Protesters chanted and marched across Dublin, assembling outside the office of prime Minister Leo Varadkhar.

Some help posters demanding "repeal now” while the crowd chanted "Get your rosaries off our ovaries."

Abortion has always been illegal in Ireland, with an amendment to the constitution in 1983 that gave equal rights of life to the unborn child as to the mother. The law was changed after the death in 2012 of a pregnant woman who was refused an abortion but still, only a few women are able to have abortions.

'A long wait'

The right to life remains a divisive issue, with pro-choice activists pressing for a more liberal system, similar to England where many Irish women travel to procure abortion services.

Read more: Rubicon crossed in Ireland's abortion debate

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"The message today is 'time to act' because we've waited for a long time for a change," said Linda Kavanagh, a spokeswoman from the Abortion Rights Campaign which organized the demonstration.

"We want full repeal. We can't support exceptions and only a hundred people allowed to get access to abortion."

Waning church power

A large number of protesters were wearing black jumpers or sashes with the word "Repeal."

An all-parliament committee is now considering the recommendations of a people's panel and is set to report to parliament before the end of the year.

The growth of the pro-choice movement is seen as a sign that the once-powerful Roman Catholic Church is starting to lose influence. Ireland was the first country to introduce gay marriage as the result of a popular vote in 2015, with 62 percent in favor, despite the opposition of the church.

In Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, abortion is also illegal - except in cases where the mother's life or mental health is in danger.

rc/kl (AFP, Reuters)

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