Press Release from Action On X
Abortion Bill will deter despairing women and put lives at risk
Expert Group recommendations ignored
Chilling factor must go – decriminalise abortion
Action on X today welcomed the publication of the government's draft Bill on abortion, but regard it as having many shortcomings. Spokesperson Sinead Kennedy said:
“The proposal to make a despairing, suicidal woman or girl go through at least three, and possibly six examinations in order to end an unwanted pregnancy shows a callous disregard for women's lives. Faced with the possibility of refusal by one or more doctors and an onerous appeals procedure, a woman is likely to go overseas. Those who are too poor or too ill to travel are likely to become more despairing, increasing the risk to their lives.”
Women who cannot face these obstacles, and induce abortion themselves, are threatened with 14 years in prison. They would be branded as criminals if they obtain abortions in Ireland – yet the government is happy to see it done in Liverpool. The 'chilling factor' of criminalisation referred to by the ECHR has been transferred from doctors to women. This hypocrisy must end: abortion must be decriminalised.”
Ailbhe Smyth said:
“What is to happen to a woman or girl, driven towards suicide by unwanted pregnancy, if the obstretician on the government's approval panel says she is not suicidal? Is she to be detained due to risk of suicide – as judged by one or both of the psychiatrists involved? And what if one of the psychiatrists says 'no' but the other says 'yes'? Is the woman to be detained as protection from herself, or left to her own devices? Psychiatric emergencies are the same as medical emergencies. Three opinions to approve abortion where a woman is suicidal will deny access to abortion and will possibly breach the requirements of the ABC ruling of the ECHR.
The government's own Expert Group Report said that two doctors was enough to make a clinical decision on the risks to a woman's life because of physical or mental health condition. Having taken almost a year to produce and discuss, Art 6.4.1 of the Report's recommendation of two doctors has been ignored.”
Therese Caherty said:
“Defining the 'unborn' as a foetus requiring legal protection from the moment of implantation, equates a fertilised egg with the life of a woman or girl. It is not a term used by doctors. This definition not only demeans women but threatens some contraceptives. It must not be included in legislation.
The exclusion of abortion for women where the foetus has a fatal abnormality and cannot survive is another cruelty being imposed by the government – forcing women to carry an unviable foetus to term or going to Liverpool for terminations. Abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality is a minimal provision that should be included in legislation.
This Bill is designed to placate the anti-abortion minority rather than meet women's needs. It also reinforces the distinction between a woman's life and her health and welfare – where a woman who could be permanently incapacitated by pregnancy cannot get an abortion. The 8th Amendment must be repealed and women's health needs and choices provided for.”