The Health Bill (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) 2018 came into effect from January 1st 2019. The Bill makes elective abortion care legal for the first time in Ireland’s history, however it is far from perfect. The Bill has a built-in three year review period, which means that the government must review the operation of the legislation later this year. TDs are responsive to issues that their constituents make clear are important to them, so it’s crucial that everyone who wants improvements to the Health Bill talks to their TD about why we want to see the review deliver fully free, safe, legal and local abortion services for anyone who wants or needs them.
We have told the politicians what we think the review should look like (see our draft terms of reference here) and what our recommendations are to improve Ireland’s abortion law (see our briefing paper here). We’ve also done research into people’s experiences of Ireland’s abortion law, to inform our work. Additionally, we’ve put together some useful information to help you advocate for better abortion care in the upcoming review.
The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) works to achieve Free, Safe, Legal and Local abortion care in Ireland with no time limits or gate keepers. We believe that pregnant people should have the same right to make decisions about their own lives and bodies as the rest of the population, including the right to choose and refuse medical treatment. This review of our abortion law must reflect this basic right. We want services that are accessible to everyone without barriers or stigma. The Irish public is pro-choice:the majority agree that “abortion should be freely available in Ireland to any woman who wants to have one.”
What is meant by Free Safe Legal and Local?
- Available to everyone for free under the public healthcare system, including those without a PPSN and those in Northern Ireland. Read more about abortion and the North here.
- Easy to find and close enough to home so that no one has to pay for travel
- Accessible from a wide range of providers, not just the GP on your medical card
- Based on best medical evidence and practice
- Available as early as possible and as late as necessary
- Inclusive with respect to gender, language, disability, migration status, age
- Free of stigma, harassment, and intimidation – see our post on Safe Access Zones here.
- No longer a crime for anyone – patients, doctors, or anyone else who provides information or support. See our Decriminalisation post for more information.
- Easy to access: at home (via telemedicine) or as close to home as possible (primary care in every county, and all maternity hospitals providing abortion care) – to remove the stress, health risks and costs of travelling
- Without gestation limits so that no-one has to travel abroad for care
Talking to your TD
Talk to your TD about why Free, Safe, Legal, and Local abortion matters to you, and should be the focus of the review! Abortion legislation in Ireland must include:
- Free universal abortion care for everyone in Ireland, including those without PPS numbers and in Northern Ireland
- Have no mandatory waiting period; these delays serve no medical purpose and have been shown to harm pregnant people
- Make sure doctors cannot refuse to care for someone who needs an abortion (no “conscientious objection”)
- Fully decriminalise abortion, for doctors and patients
- Doesn’t endanger health with vague non-medical criteria like “serious risk” to health.
- Abortion should be available on request throughout pregnancy, without need to provide a reason.
It’s also worth telling your TD if your circumstances mean you would be particularly affected by the restrictions. We know from the referendum that politicians pay attention to us when we tell them our stories and our experiences. If you are comfortable telling your TD specifically how the barriers in the current legislation affect you, please do so. Those who oppose autonomy and choice will certainly make themselves heard during this review of the legislation. Don’t let them be the only voices in the conversation!
- Look up your representatives’ details at www.whoismytd.com
- Send a letter or email or call your TDs to tell them how you feel and what you want to see in the review.
- For the biggest impact, ask for a meeting – in person or online! – for a longer conversation, or visit them during their office hours. Bring a friend!
- Remember, we elect TDs and pay their salaries! They are accountable to us.