Tag Archives: Irish ban on abortion

When is an abortion not an abortion?

Twenty years ago the Irish government, in the person of Attorney General Harry Whelehan, sought to take custody of a child made pregnant by rape, because she needed to have an abortion and the Irish government thought it entitled to prevent that: their intention was to force the child to have the rapist’s baby.

This became the “X” case, and on appeal, the Supreme Court of Ireland ruled that the Irish government did not have the right to force a woman through pregnancy/childbirth at the risk of her life – and that risk to her life included her suicide. (Note: edited substantially. I’d misremembered the chronology quite seriously. My apologies.)

Nothing has been done in the twenty years since: the Irish government claims there are no lawful abortions in Ireland, prolifers claim this proves abortion is never medically necessary, and women silently vote with their feet.

The ECHR has ruled:

  • first, anyone may leave their prolife country to have an abortion if they wish and the prolife government is not allowed to prevent them; and,
  • second, that the Irish government must take steps to be sure that a pregnant girl or woman whose life is in danger can have an abortion in Ireland.

The first part the Irish government couldn’t stop, but the second – this the Irish government still refuse to do. Action on X is a campaigning group trying to bring about a change in the law in Ireland. Cardinal Sean Brady, who cares so much for children, is against it.

(There is an agreement that Northern Ireland, while part of the UK, will not pass legislation that would put it significantly out of step with the Republic of Ireland. As I understand it, it’s this agreement that makes it improbable that Northern Ireland will make abortion legal so that women living in NI can have abortions where they live, on the NHS, as they would if they lived in any other part of the UK. Put simply, if abortion was legal in Northern Ireland, women in the Republic of Ireland who needed an abortion would head north to the Six Counties, much cheaper and much less inconvenient for them than going over to London or Liverpool – but also very openly, Northern Ireland would be doing for the women of all Ireland what the Irish Republic will not do for their own citizens – though many think they should.)

how not to be a ‘legitimate’ rape victim:

When I was in eighth grade, a classmate – let’s call her Anna — said that she’d been raped. She told me during lunch at our desks, tipping her chair until it seemed she might fall over. It happened on a rocky lakeshore. The man came off a boat that was anchored nearby and she could hear voices yelling to him in the darkness. She was freezing. When it was over, he threw her jeans in the water and said, “I hope you get pregnant.”

Abortion has been legal in Ireland only on the most tightly-defined grounds, but where it is legal, it is obtainable. Only when an Irish hospital can be absolutely certain that the woman will not survive unless the abortion is performed and the fetus will never be viable.
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Every woman who needs an abortion should get it on the NHS

I’m pro-choice. Whatever your view on the ethics of abortion or your judgement of any particular woman’s reasons for having an abortion, it seems an unqualified wrong for anyone other than the pregnant woman herself to have the first choice and the final say on whether she will terminate or continue any pregnancy. Her body, her health, her life: her decision. Attempts by the state to deny a woman safe legal abortion merely result in higher rates of unsafe illegal abortions – the pro-life ideology is lethal to women: and is own brother to the idea of forcing women to get pregnant.

No one in the UK who needs an abortion should have to work out how to pay for it. It’s a crying shame, as well as a tragedy, that UK citizens in Northern Ireland, who pay the same taxes for the NHS as everyone else, should have to go private when they come to mainland UK to get an abortion, while abortion in the Republic of Ireland is banned completely.

From the Abortion Support Network’s case files:

A woman who was 19 weeks pregnant with 3 children, including one under the age of one. Initially she looked into trying to self-abort as felt could not afford to pay for a termination. She was in a desperate state when she called Abortion Support Network. She knew she was pregnant at 10 weeks but could not book an abortion because she had no funds. After saving for 8 weeks, she managed to put aside 600 Euros. She was worried about her own health but ‘terrified’ to go near a hospital in case they would force her to have the baby. Abortion Support Network agreed to pay for her flights and the remainder of her clinic fee.

Ireland’s outsourcing of its abortions to mainland UK has been found to be in breach of international human rights law because in a recent test case, an Irish woman with a clear health need to abort had found that:

“neither the medical consultation nor litigation options, relied on by the Irish government, constituted effective and accessible procedures which allowed the third applicant to establish her right to a lawful abortion in Ireland”.

From 30th April 2012, Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) ruled, private clinics will be allowed to advertise abortion services – and pro-life centres that do not provide medical referrals for abortion will have to make that clear in their advertising.

Not-for-profit pregnancy services are already allowed to advertise on television and radio and for-profit clinics can already advertise in all other media, including newspapers.

Under new rules clinics will have to make it clear in all advertising if they do not offer referral for termination.

This was because of strong public health grounds, BCAP said.

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