21 years, and 14 hours of debate – How long must women in Ireland wait?

The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) is disappointed at overnight developments in the Dáil, where discussion has dragged out unnecessarily, key amendments have been attacked, and the 1992 Supreme Court ruling in the X case has been defied. Arguments and behaviour by those sitting in Leinster House have ranged from outrageous to farcical.

Discussion regarding suicidal pregnant women, in particular, was severely set back by several TDs with the flawed argument that abortion is “treatment” for suicidality. This discourse seeks to challenge the Supreme Court’s X case ruling, which allows for abortion services to save a pregnant woman who would otherwise take her own life, and as such is the current law. The contents of the Bill, distinguishing as it does between mental and physical health for which there is no basis in medicine, are so restrictive that it is even doubtful that X, as a suicidal pregnant teenager, would under this bill be able to safely access a legal abortion in Ireland.

As TDs continue to debate, each day 12 women from Ireland will travel overseas to receive the abortions they need, and an estimated 160 women a week continue to self-administer the abortion pill; both these desperate situations are made more so by the contents of this Bill.

Those women and families who bravely spoke out about having to terminate their much-wanted but tragically unviable pregnancies abroad, without the supports and comforts of home, are not only ignored, but deliberately excluded from this Bill. With its new definition of the ‘unborn’ as a fertilised egg from implantation to birth, the Bill gives no room for compassion in Ireland to these women and families.

ARC hopes this extra time will be used to bring about meaningful improvements to this flawed Bill. Women in Ireland deserve better.