PLDPA Figures Show Current Laws Not Reaching Majority Of Those In Need, Says Abortion Rights Campaign
The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) say that today’s Department of Health figures on the number of abortions accessed under the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act (PLDPA) show that most people who need abortions in Ireland cannot access them under our current law.
The numbers released by the Department of Health show that of the 25 abortions carried out in Ireland in 2016, one was because of the risk of suicide, eight took place due to risk to the pregnant person’s health while the remainder were performed in the context of emergency healthcare where the pregnant person’s life was at risk.
This is number is slightly lower than that of 2015, when 26 abortions were performed under the PLDPA. However, reports from both the Irish Family Planning Association and the Abortion Support Network show that women who qualify for abortions under the Act are choosing to travel rather than face the ordeal of committees.
Speaking on Thursday, ARC spokesperson Clare Lanigan said, “The onerous and potentially traumatic process whereby the decision to allow a woman to have an abortion under these extremely limited circumstances is a deterrent to vulnerable people in need of healthcare.”
Ms Lanigan continued, “The report does not show how many applicants under the Act were refused, nor the impact refusal has had on their health. This is a huge oversight on the part of the HSE and the Irish Government. In the last month alone, there have been several reports of suicidal minors and migrants who have been failed by the process through which they should be entitled to abortion services in Ireland. This failure has led to further suicide attempts or, in at least one case, the incarceration of a child under the Mental Health Act.”
ARC spokesperson Linda Kavanagh added, “The PLDPA has always been a flawed piece of legislation. That only 25 people can access healthcare under it while over 3,000 must travel every year shows how unworkable and potentially dangerous it is. The people of Ireland deserve access to abortion locally, free from barriers,shame and stigma.
Ms Kavanagh concluded, “Abortions happen in Ireland, covered by the maternity health care scheme as per the PLDPA. But those that happen under the PLDPA meet the needs of only a small minority of people seeking abortions in Ireland. Today’s report from the Citizens’ Assembly shows yet again that the people of Ireland want decisive action on this issue. It is time for the government to act. It is time to repeal the 8th Amendment and legislate for free, safe and legal abortion in Ireland.”