Under the Eighth Amendment of the predominantly Catholic country's constitution, abortion is illegal unless the mother's life is in danger. The Eighth Amendment, which has been law since 1983, also bans abortion in cases of rape, incest, inevitable miscarriage, and fatal foetal abnormality.
As they joined the sixth annual March for Choice today, women's rights campaigners held placards with slogans including "Keep your rosaries off my ovaries" and "Repeal the eighth" as they made their way through Dublin city centre.
This year's March for Choice came in a week of renewed hope for Ireland's pro-choice movement. On Wednesday, the Irish government said a nationwide referendum on whether to reform the country's abortion laws could be held next May or June. However, it has yet to announce an exact date for the proposed referendum.
In a show of solidarity with Dublin's March for Choice, hundreds of women's rights campaigners also congregated outside the Irish Embassy in London today, the Evening Standard reports. They drew more than 200,000 chalk marks outside the Embassy to represent the number of women who have travelled to the UK from Ireland to have a safe and legal abortion since 1983.
The UN Human Rights Committee last year deemed Ireland's abortion law to be "cruel, inhuman [and] degrading." Meanwhile, public attitudes toward abortion in Ireland have shifted markedly in recent decades.
In an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll in May 2017, the majority of people agreed abortion should be legal in certain circumstances, with 73% of respondents saying it should be allowed up until 12 weeks of gestation.