Draft Bill is a Step Forward but Still Fails Women.

Galway Pro-Choice welcomes the imminent passage of the “Protection of Life During Pregnancy” Bill clarifying when a woman is lawfully entitled to a termination in this country as a step forward. Nonetheless, we have serious reservations about the implications of the Draft Bill published late last night. Its ultimate failure to protect women in Ireland demonstrates the urgent need for the repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.

Women pregnant as a result of rape or incest, those with a fatal foetal abnormality diagnosis, or women whose health is being put at risk due to a pregnancy, will still be left out of this bill. The recent Irish Times Ipsos/MRBI poll showed that the overwhelming majority of Irish people support the right of women in these situations to have the choice to avail of a termination.

Galway Pro-Choice is deeply concerned with the sentence of 14 years and/or a fine for those who procure an abortion in Ireland. Rachel Donnelly of Galway Pro-Choice stated:

“The criminalisation of women who obtain an abortion in this country is utterly shameful. The sanction of 14 years imprisonment and/or a fine will serve only to punish the most vulnerable, i.e. those who are unable to travel to England to obtain a safe termination. It will likely result in women being fearful to access the medical care that they need, with potentially devastating consequences.”

We are further concerned that a psychiatric emergency is still being treated differently to a medical emergency. Sarah McCarthy of Galway Pro-Choice said:

“The rhetoric surrounding this Bill has served to trivialise suicide and is insulting to people with mental ill health. The distinction between a physical and a mental emergency is against the advice of psychiatrists given at the recent Oireachtas hearings. This draft requires two psychiatrists and an obstetrician to assess a woman’s suicide risk even when the obstetrician has no training in psychiatry. We find this unfathomable; such an attitude only serves to further stigmatise mental health issues in this country.”

Contrary to the claims of some, the provision for suicide must be included, not least because the Government is legally required to do so. The terrible circumstances surrounding the X Case in 1992 demonstrate why suicide must be provided for. Orlaith Reidy of Galway Pro-Choice stated:

“Nobody is claiming that abortion is a ‘treatment’ for suicide. However, if a woman is denied access to abortion, in a small number of cases she may become suicidal as a result, as clearly illustrated by the X Case. Where access to abortion is restricted, the suicide rate among pregnant women increases. As Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr. Peadar O’Grady stated: ‘International research shows an increased risk of suicide for pregnant women and adolescents where access to abortion services is restricted’.”

***ENDS***

For further comment and information please contact Galway Pro-Choice:

Email: prochoicegalway@gmail.com Phone: 0877060715

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