Monthly Roundup: Irish Abortion in the UK, Gallardón’s Law in Spain and Buffer zones in the US

Welcome to the ARC News Roundup – where each month our media team examines how abortion is discussed at home and abroad. The UK Department of Health statistics revealed that over 3,600 women travelled from Ireland to access abortion in England last year; the conservative ruling party in Spain have proposed legislation that would make the country one of the most restrictive in Europe with regards abortion acces and in the United States the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law which had created a 35ft  ‘Buffer Zone’ around entrances to abortion clinics.

Campaign News

Ireland has signed up to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and will be under review by the United Nations United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) later this month. ARC has made a submission, which can be read on the United Nation’s website. ARC representatives will attend Ireland’s hearing in Geneva later in July. A submission has also been made by Doctors for Choice.

ARC has begun planning for the 3rd annual “March for Choice” which will take place on September 27th to mark the International Day for the Decriminalisation of Abortion. If you are interested in helping to plan for the march please contact us on [email protected]. Keep an eye out for more information on our website, newsletter, facebook page and on twitter.

Earlier this month events were organised in Dublin and Galway which called on the Government to deliver Justice for the Tuam Babies. A similar vigil/silent protest will take place outside the Irish Embassy in London on July 3rd at 7:00pm. In our blog, we look back on Ireland’s dark past and examine the ways in which Ireland continues to punish women who become unexpectedly pregnant. 

Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) held a Trans 101 Workshop as part of the Abortion Rights Campaign’s last Dublin Open Meeting on 16th June. ARC would like to thank TENI for taking the time to present this insightful and interesting workshop, as well as all those who attended. For more information about TENI, please visit their websiteor facebook page.

Irish News – Irish Abortion in the UK in 2013

On 12th June, the UK Department of Health released information detailing the numbers of people who gave an Irish address when accessing abortion services in the UK. Read our blog post, which looks at why these numbers do not tell us the whole story. Both the Irish Medical Times and the Irish Independent reported on the Irish Family Planning Association’s reaction to these figures quoting IFPA CEO, Niall Behan, who said “These women are not criminals, but the law treats them as such because they are seeking a service that is illegal in almost every circumstance in Ireland.” Speaking to irishmedicalnews, Dr Peter Boylan, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, said “It is “grossly hypocritical” that Irish women who receive a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality must travel to the UK for a termination”. Alison O’Connor of the Irish Examiner writes “It’s time to stop pretending and to allow abortion in Ireland”. Also commenting on these figures was the Trade Union Unite’s Regional Equalities Officer, Taryn Trainor, who pointed out that many more women are unable to make that journey and she repeated the union’s call for the 8th Amendment to be repealed.


University College Cork held a conference called “Abortion Privacy/Abortion Secrecy” on 6th June. The Irish Examiner reported Mairead Enright, who is a Senior Lecturer at Kent Law School and one of the conference participants, having stated “It is clear that Irish women have plenty of reasons to keep abortions secret. In particular, except within the narrow constitutional limits, abortion within Ireland remains a crime which attracts a maximum 14-year prison sentence. Although the law may not deter women from seeking abortions, it likely discourages women from disclosing that they have had abortions.” Writing in the Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole asks “If shame has gone, why do we use secret abortions in England to preserve the myth of holy Ireland?”

Gallardón’s Law

The ruling Spanish conservative People’s Party (PP) has proposed a law which would make Spain, like Ireland, one of the most restrictive countries in Europe with regards to abortion. According to the Irish Times “The Spanish government has reportedly watered down a reform of the abortion law it is preparing to send to parliament, after its original draft law sparked a fierce backlash from pro-choice groups.” While ARC is proud to be one part of this strong backlash that has the Spanish government rethinking such regressive legislation, we must point out that the amended legislation is definitely not good enough, allowing terminations in incredibly limited circumstances and requiring a panel to provide access. RTE noted that a recent poll shows that most Spaniards oppose stricter abortion laws. The Spanish Women’s Assembly, My Belly is Mine and Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A came together to protest this proposed law by demonstrating outside the Spanish Embassy in London. Read a blog post from “My Belly is Mine” about the protest.

US Supreme Courts strikes down Buffer Zone Law

On 26th June the New York Times reported that the US Supreme Court unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that barred protests, “counselling” and other speech near abortion clinics. The law, enacted in 2007, created 35-foot buffer zones around entrances to abortion clinics in that state. Officials said the law was a response to a history of harassment and violence at abortion clinics in Massachusetts, including a shooting rampage at two facilities in 1994. Speaking to Think Progress Ashley Hartman, who holds a master’s in public health from Ohio State University and has volunteered as a clinic escort, said “Buffer zones make a huge difference. The reality is, if you’ve ever been outside a clinic, it’s not about exchanging ideas… Protesting is about creating the feeling of intimidation, so the more distance you can have from them, the less powerful that intimidation is.” National Public Radio spoke with American University professor Bill Yeomans, who served as a top Justice Department official for 26 years and supervised the enforcement of laws dealing with abortion clinic violence, who said “What this means is that there will be revisiting of an awful lot of buffer zones around the country. It’s going to be more difficult for people who operate clinics”

Have we missed anything? Related stories? Any events upcoming we should know about? Let us know in the comments!