Fact 1: The people of Ireland support X Case Legislation.
In fact, the majority of Irish people support a woman’s right to abortion where her life is at risk, where her health is at risk, where there is a fatal foetal abnormality, and where she is pregnant as a result of incest or rape.
Despite having some of the most restrictive laws in the world, the people of Ireland have been shown repeatedly to support a change to make abortion more accessible to women in Ireland.
Fact 2: Irish voters have never been asked whether they would support the introduction of abortion in Ireland.
It is a common misconception that we have been offered the opportunity to introduce abortion in Ireland but voted it down. This has not happened. In referenda in 1992 and 2002 Irish people have been asked if they would like to remove the right to an abortion where the woman’s life is at risk, including the risk of suicide. Twice we rejected this.
Fact 3: Abortion does not cause mental health problems.
Large-scale reviews of research on abortion and mental health by the American Psychological Association and by John Hopkins University both conclude that abortion does not cause psychological problems. Neither the American Psychological Association nor the American Psychiatric Association recognise the existence of a ‘post abortion syndrome’. The small percentage of women who do regret their abortions or suffer with mental health should be given appropriate psychological support from non-judgemental service providers.
Fact 4: Most women do not regret their abortions.
Research by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency in 2010 showed that 87% of women in Ireland who had abortions said it was “the right outcome” for them.
Fact 5: Ireland is not ‘abortion free’.
Since 1980, over 150,000 women have travelled from Ireland for abortion. Approximately 12 women a day leave Ireland for abortions. Unknown numbers of women in Ireland purchase abortion pills online. In 2009 customs seized 1200 abortion pills which may only be the tip of the iceberg in relation to the volume of abortion pills being bought by women in Ireland. Abortion is the most common gynaecological procedure an Irish woman is likely to have. It is variously estimated that between one in 10 and one in 15 Irish women of reproductive age have had an abortion. An Irish woman is more likely to have had an abortion than appendectomy or tonsillectomy.
Fact 6: Abortion is legal in Ireland in certain circumstances; it is just not legislated for.
This means that under our constitution, abortion is legal where a woman’s life (as distinct from her health) is in danger including from the threat of suicide. This was clarified by the x judgement in 1992. However, without legislation that describes by who, when, how and where abortions can be performed, Doctors cannot perform life-saving abortions.
Fact 7: Women who need life-saving abortions are not always given the medical treatment they need in Ireland
Anti-choice campaigners insist that Irish women receive all necessary medical treatment. Yet, in the case of ABC v. Ireland in 2010, the European Court of Human Rights found that Ireland had violated the woman’s right to bodily autonomy and a private life. She was pregnant and suffering from a rare form of cancer, and she could not get clear information from a doctor as to whether she was entitled to an abortion. The European Court noted that Ireland had an obligation to legislate for clarity regarding the circumstance under which abortion can be performed.
Fact 8: Women who are carrying a foetus that will die in the womb, not survive birth or die very shortly after birth must travel outside Ireland to end the pregnancy
This is true. The group Termination for Medical Reasons Ireland have brought this to the attention of the government but to no avail. Women in Ireland are compelled to carry such pregnancies to term.
Fact 9: There are many, many situations where a woman needs an abortion because of a threat to her health and her life.
Anti-choice groups insist that there is never a situation in which a woman may need an abortion because of a threat to her life or health. Yet many other countries provide abortion for physical and mental health reasons. Ireland is one of the only countries in the world that makes a distinction in legislation between ‘health’ and ‘life’. Risk to health can include heart and vascular diseases, pulmonary diseases, kidney diseases, extensive hernias, abdominal and pelvic and benign tumors, urological problems, orthopaedic problems, breathing problems and many, many more.
References and Resources by Fact
Abortion: Public Opinion - Available at: http://www.ifpa.ie/Hot-Topics/Abortion/Public-Opinion
Stephen Collins: Big Rise in Support for Abortion Legislation. The Irish Times, 11/02/2013: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2013/0211/1224329906498.html?via=rel
Twenty Years On: A Timeline of the X Case, The Journal, 20th February 2012:
International research on the connection between abortion and mental health:
Irish Report showing women do not regret their abortions: http://crisispregnancy.ie/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/ICCP-2010_REPORT.pdf)
Department of Health (UK) Statistical Bulletin Abortion Statistics England and Wales 2008
Irish Family Planning Association, Statistics: http://www.ifpa.ie/Hot-Topics/Abortion/Statistics
Dr. Mary Favier, Doctors for Choice: GP Based Care Must be Central to Abortion Law. Irish Times, 25/02/2013. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2013/0225/1224330475662.html
Citizens Information: Abortion http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/health/women_s_health/abortion_information_the_law.html
European Court of Human Rights Press Release: Grand Chamber Judgement in A, B& C
June Shannon: Women Campaigning for Limited Abortion to Meet Minister. Medical Independent, Ireland.
Abortion for Health Related Reasons: An Urgent Debate