The traditionally Catholic country has some of the strictest abortion laws in the world.
Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated in Dublin for a loosening of some of the strictest abortion laws in the world.
They took part in the ‘March for Choice’ on Saturday, days after the Irish government announced a referendum on the issue next year.
In traditionally Catholic Ireland, abortions are only allowed if the mother’s life is in danger.
“We are way behind on global terms of what abortion should be, and it’s ridiculous,” said one man attending the pro-choice rally.
“I don`t believe that anyone should be forced to be pregnant when they don’t want to,” a woman added.
Calls were made to repeal the eighth amendment of the Irish constitution, which gives the unborn child equal rights to those of the mother.
Thousands taking part in 'March for Choice' rally https://t.co/Trut5aqiyUpic.twitter.com/wX0bRz4XoE— RTÉ News (@rtenews) 30 septembre 2017
But anti-abortion activists were also out, making their voices heard on the streets.
“Abortion does not help women or meet their needs. I had a child after rape and abortion would have destroyed me and my baby,” one woman said.
Each year, however, thousands of Irish women go abroad for abortions and opinion polls show a large majority of voters do want some change.
Thousands attend pro-choice rally in Dublin ahead of abortion law vote https://t.co/SE8xNKNAsIpic.twitter.com/08SZAyk5QD— Independent.ie (@Independent_ie) 30 septembre 2017
The human rights arms of the United Nations and Council of Europe have pressed the Irish government to decriminalise abortion and widen the law to allow for the procedure in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape or incest.
But pro-choice activists want a more liberal regime, closer to that of England, which allows terminations to be carried out up to 24 weeks after conception. Opinion polls show a large majority of voters want some change.
A panel of citizens called together to advise the Irish government on the issue voted overwhelmingly that the eighth amendment should be changed.
An all-party committee in parliament is now considering those recommendations and is due to report to parliament by the end of the year.