The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) is gravely disappointed by the decision of the Health Committee to reject the amendment which would allow abortions to be offered to women suffering inevitable miscarriages and those diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormalities.
While ARC objects to the definition of a new and not scientifically recognised category of “unborn,” it calls on the committee to make clear distinctions between viable and non-viable pregnancies.
This decision is completely at odds with the argument the Irish government put forward in the D versus Ireland European Court of Human Rights case of 2005, when they said that it would be a possibility for Irish women to seek abortions in Ireland in cases where the foetus has no hope of survival. It now seems as though that is not the case and that these women in heartbreaking situations are being denied access to the healthcare they need in this country. Furthermore under this legislation in its current format, Savita Halappanavar would almost certainly still have been denied the abortion she requested in an Irish hospital.
83% of the Irish people support access to abortion in these situations for all women living in Ireland, not just those with the means and the necessary papers to travel. The vast majority of us recognise this situation is horribly cruel and want to see it changed. ARC expects to see the wishes of this majority democratically recognised with a referendum to remove the eighth amendment so these women and families can be respected and cared for here in Ireland.
In a country that only lifted the marriage bar in the 70s, legalised contraception in the 80s, and closed the doors of the last Magdalene Laundry in the 90s, ARC does welcome the fact that the Bill has made it to committee stage. We recognise that this is the result of individuals and legislators standing up to the combined weight of a threatening anti-choice campaign, a blinkered Catholic Church, and undisclosed groups who have influenced the conversation with a steady stream of financing.