Welcome to the ARC News Roundup, where each month our media team highlights how abortion is discussed at home and abroad. This month we’ll look at reports of Irish women seeking terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities being turned away from a Liverpool hospital, worries over the “One of Us” campaign, which seeks to block European Commission development funding for maternal health, abortion rights campaigns in Sri Lanka, Senegal and Chile and recent events in the US and Canada.
ARC started off the month by holding a training session on 5th April designed to help people feel comfortable discussing the issue of abortion rights with their elected representatives. Feedback from the training was very positive and we plan to have more of these sessions in the future. In the meantime (click here) to view a downloadable “What to Ask Your Candidate Checklist” that you can refer to when politicians call to the door in the lead up to the Local and European elections this May.
ARC was out and about during the past month. We held a workshop called “Putting Our Ovaries on Their Rosaries”, which was part of this year’s Lady&trans Fest Dublin weekend. We also had a stall at the Anarchist Bookfair on 12th April in Dublin. It was a great day. We sold cool merchandise, signed up some new campaign members and gathered signatures for The Petition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment.
Irish News – Concerns voiced over UK hospital restrictions, Guidelines for the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act and disparity in abortion legislation between Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Kitty Holland writing in The Irish Times reported that the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has said that women seeking a termination following a diagnosis of a fatal anomaly are being turned away from the Liverpool hospital, which specialises in foetomaternal medicine. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) published a blog post about the disparity in abortion legislation between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They drew attention to the fact that “Abortion is, in theory, legal in Northern Ireland in ‘exceptional circumstances.’ However, a complete lack of clarity as to what actually counts as an ‘exceptional circumstance’ means that it is impossible for the vast majority of women to obtain an abortion in Northern Ireland when they need to.”
Meanwhile, in the ROI, The Department of Health told irishhealth.com that a final draft of the guidance document to assist health professionals in the implementation of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 has been signed off by the Committee tasked with drawing up the guidelines.
International and European News
The European Women’s Lobby took over Place du Luxembourg in Brussels at the beginning of April as part of their My Body.My Decision protest to defend abortion rights. Also in April, parliamentarians in Brussels examined an initiative put forward by the “One of us Campaign” that, if successful, would block European Commission development funding for maternal health. Thilde Knudsen, who is the Head of Marie Stopes International’s Europe Office and who works with the European Parliament Working Group on Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS and Development wrote an opinion piece for politics.co.uk in which she stated that “Europe must stand for access to the whole range of sexual and reproductive services – including access to safe abortion when needed – here at home in Europe, and in partnership with other governments around the world.” Liz Ford, writing in the Guardian describes how the One of Us campaign to halt EU abortion funding ‘lacks mercy’ as it would impact organisations that receive money for family planning services, which can include abortion.
Sarah Soysa, who is an activist with Asia Safe Abortion Partnership wrote a blog post about the Campaign for Safe Abortion in Sri Lanka for TARSHI (Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues). As in Ireland, abortion in Sri Lanka is only permitted in cases where pregnancy or childbirth is life-threatening for the woman. This is also the case in Senegal, where the Guardian reports that efforts of human rights campaigners are thwarted by laws allowing abortion only in life-or-death circumstances. Chile bans abortion even if a woman’s life is in danger. However, in July, the country’s MP’s are expected to consider legislating for abortion in certain circumstances.
UK News – Why we must defend Josie Cunningham’s right to an abortion
Twitter and the blogosphere were full of commentary in relation to Josie Cunningham’s decision to have an abortion and then not to have one. Martin Robbins, who blogs for the Guardian, wrote an excellent piece about Why we must defend Josie Cunningham’s right to an abortion in which he writes “What makes the “debate” around Josie Cunningham so disturbing is that it refuses to even acknowledge the idea that access to abortion is a basic human right, or that women are entitled to choose what they do with their own bodies.”
Walesonline reports that the anti-choice campaign group “40 Days for Life” has been accused of harassing women as they visit a BPAS clinic in Cardiff.
North American News – Clinic Closures
There has been much coverage in Canada about the expected closure of the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, New Brunswick due to lack of government funding. Rachael Johnstone has written an informative piece for the Globe and Mail, which provides background to the current situation surrounding access to abortion services in Atlantic Canada. She cautions that “As the realities of a lack of abortion access have begun to fade from the collective memory, and Canadian women feel secure in their rights to access safe and legal abortion services, we must resist the urge to treat abortion rights as guaranteed”
On a similar note Erika L. Sanchez writes in the Guardian about The secret anti-abortion law that’s sweeping America.
Have we missed anything? Related stories? Any events upcoming we should know about? Let us know in the comments!