The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) welcomes some of the recommendations in the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment report, published today. ARC says these recommendations must be carried into subsequent Dail legislation to ensure realistic abortion care in Ireland.
Speaking outside the Dáil this afternoon, ARC spokesperson Linda Kavanagh said: “We are pleased to see the votes from last Wednesday’s sessions carried through in the report. The vote for abortion access up to 12 weeks is a marked improvement on the current situation. However, gaps still exist and even with legislation matching the Committee votes, many people will still be unable to access the abortion care they need. The only way to ensure proper reproductive healthcare in Ireland is free, safe and legal abortion for all who want or need it.
“The Committee, like the people of Ireland, have come to understand that we need real and realistic access to abortion at home. It’s important that a woman who needs an abortion is able to access the care she needs locally, with the privacy and dignity that we all want and deserve from our healthcare.
“That is why it is so important that the Oireachtas members read the report and Committee members talk to their party colleagues about their journey towards a largely pro-choice position. The recommendations must be respected and enshrined in legislation, after we repeal the Eighth Amendment in 2018.”
Limited provision after 12 weeks
Ms Kavanagh continued: “It’s disappointing that the report has such limited provision for abortion access after 12 weeks. It’s vital that the Dail legislates not only for abortion access up to 12 weeks, as outlined in the report, but also for access after 12 weeks on broader grounds.
“The Citizens’ Assembly made it very clear that straightforward access to abortion care after 12 weeks is necessary in a number of cases. The gold standard of free, safe, and legal abortion that ARC support would guarantee access for all those who need it”
No special provisions for emergency care
“We are alarmed that the recommendations make no special provisions for emergency care, where the required hospital setting and two specialists may not be available. This will affect women in rural areas particularly.”
Speaking on the ancillary recommendations of the report, Ms Kavanagh said “We welcome the ancillary recommendations of the Committee report, particularly the recommendation of universal free contraception, and the decriminalisation of women obliged to have abortions.
“However, there is a problem with the report’s assertion that surgical terminations may only be legally carried out in a hospital setting. This recommendation is not medically necessary and may end up restricting people’s access to the local healthcare they need.
Talk to your TD over Christmas
Ms Kavanagh concluded: “We’d encourage people all over the country to get in touch with their TDs over Christmas. The Dail will be passing legislation in the new year and it’s vital that we make our voice heard.
“Tell your TD that the Joint Oireachtas Committee recommendations must not be watered down in the subsequent legislation. We all want proper reproductive healthcare in Ireland, and we must stay focused on this goal.”