Welcome to our first MediaWatch blog post, where each week we will highlight how abortion is being discussed in the media at home and abroad. It’s only been a few days since the Abortion Rights Campaign website launched, but that doesn’t mean it’s been a quiet week!
Reaction to the 10 Days of #ARCaction
Abortion has become a hot topic in the Irish media once again and, this week, the launch of ARC’s Postcards for Choice campaign along with the announcement of 10 Days of Action for choice saw coverage in both national and international media, online and in print.
Broadsheet picked up the story on Tuesday describing Max Sullivan’s design as “Gathering-style” and William Hederman’s photograph of ARC campaigners dressed in their summer finest outside Leinster House was circulated across social media, further spreading the word of 10 days of action on X.
The website of the Irish Independent hosted a video of the ARC press conference launching the campaign. Rabble also covered the launch, posting both the snapshot and a video from inside the press conference. The Irish Choice Network lent us their support and Newstalk also covered the campaign launch, and Dan Griffin’s reports on the 10-day action plan appeared both on The Irish Times website and in the print edition.
The campaign even got attention from the other side of the Atlantic, as Kent Jones wrote on ‘The X Files: Women’s Fight for Rights in Ireland’ for The Maddow Blog.
Drafts, delays and dismay
On Wednesday, the Independent revealed that the final report from the HSE’s investigation into Savita Halappanavar’s death has been delayed, with no indication of when the report will finally be published. This news comes over three months since the inquiry was established and more than two weeks since the publication of the findings of the draft report.
Also on Wednesday, a judicial review launched by the Family Planning Association in Northern Ireland to order the publication of guidelines on abortion was due to begin in the High Court, as reported by TheJournal.ie. But a last-minute call by health minister Edwin Poots committed to a March deadline for the publication of draft guidelines, the Irish Independent reported.
At the same time, Northern Ireland Assembly members Paul Givan (DUP) and Alban Maginness (SDLP) are intent on changing the law to make abortions illegal outside of the NHS. It is their belief, according to BBC News, that this joint amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill will close a loophole that appeared when a Marie Stopes clinic opened in Belfast last October.
Women’s groups and pro-choice organisations in Northern Ireland responded with anger, saying in a statement, “Until we are able to get the abortions to which we are legally entitled on the NHS and until there are clear pathways to ensure that all women, whether in the greater Belfast area or west of the Bann, are able to get abortions to which they are legally entitled, this amendment is nothing but an exercise in gross hypocrisy.”
Right and wrong ways to join the debate
Meanwhile, a Garda investigation is now underway into an attack on Youth Defence’s campaign office on Capel Street, Dublin. TheJournal.ie reports that excrement was used to stick news clippings related to the death of Savita Halappanavar to the shutter of the building. Clare Molloy of Youth Defence has said that abortion rights campaigners are responsible for the attack, while Sarah Malone of the Abortion Rights Campaign said these actions have no affiliation with this campaign, adding that the cause should not be highlighted in this way.
Finally, on Thursday, Dr Mark Murphy, a member of Doctors for Choice, told the Irish Medical Times that the current debate on abortion in Ireland needs to address the health of those women that travel abroad every day to receive abortion services.
“One can be avidly anti-choice yet acknowledge that our restrictive abortion laws are directly responsible for the creation of needless additive psychological harm in Irish women who are forced to travel abroad,” said the GP ahead of a presentation of his research into Irish GPs’ attitudes and clinical experiences of abortion at a joint NWCI and Doctors for Choice event in Dublin.