Monthly Roundup: A Second Irish Abortion Case Heading to the UN Human Rights Committee, Repealing the 8th, and a Call for Universal Access

Welcome to the ARC News Roundup, where each month our media team will highlight how abortion is discussed at home and abroad. This month we’ll look at the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) announcement of a 2nd case to the UN Human Rights Committee, Repealing the 8th Amendment, and a call for universal access to safe and legal abortion.

Campaign Updates

On 5th March 2014, Siobhán Clancy and Katie Gillum of ARC presented on abortion rights in Ireland to the GUE/NGL Grouping Hearings on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, which were held in the European Parliament in Brussels. This was an opportunity to highlight at European level the grave consequences the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution has for reproductive rights and maternity services in Ireland. Allison Spillane, a member of ARC, wrote an article for the Irish Left Review focusing on this issue.

This year, to mark International Women’s Day, ARC ran a social media campaign aimed at dispelling 8 commonly held myths about abortion in Ireland. To launch our 8 Days of Myth Busting, we held a film screening and panel discussion event called Too Loud A Silence, during which the topic of abortion and censorship in the Irish media was explored. On International Women’s Day itself, two members of the campaign spoke at different events – Ciara Fitzpatrick at a rally held by (ROSA) and Jen Dalton at the National Women’s Council of Ireland’s (Soapbox on O’Connell St.)

Later that evening Janet Ní Shuilleabháin appeared on Dil Wickremasinghe’s Newstalk radio programme Global Village. Janet, who is also a member of ARC, tweeted her abortion story for an hour one evening during the week that she was curator for the @ireland twitter account. She wrote about her experience for our blog and noted despite the story being picked by the international press, there has been relatively little coverage in the Irish media.

Fatal Foetal Abnormalities at the UN and Repealing the 8th Amendment

On 13th March, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) announced that they will bring a second case challenging Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws to the UN Human Rights Committee. This time on behalf of Siobhán Whelan, who was forced to travel to the UK to obtain a safe and legal abortion after she learned that she was carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality. Siobhán Whelan spoke on Newstalk’s lunchtime show

A few days later Ricki and Niamh, who planned to travel to the UK for a termination due to a fatal foetal abnormality went public with their story. The couple wanted people to know about their experience in order to put pressure on Irish politicians to make necessary changes to the laws governing abortion. After hearing their story, an anonymous author wrote a piece in the describing her experience of travelling to Austria with her husband for a termination. Sarah McGuinness of Terminations for Medical Reasons told newstalk how our country is turning its back on Irish women.

Earlier this week Today FM’s Ray D’Arcy interviewed Gillian Binchy about her new book Ruby’s Tuesday, which deals with the subject of terminating a pregnancy due to a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality. The novel is based on her own experience of being forced to travel abroad. (listen here)

The issue of abortion was also covered in “Hotpress”, where Dr. Mark Murphy of Doctors for Choice in Ireland spoke about the injustice and hypocrisy of Ireland’s abortion laws and called for a national referendum to Repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution. Recommendations recently published by the Constitutional Convention include calls for repeal of article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution.

Towards the end of the March, The Belfast Telegraph reported that nearly 75% of those attending the Alliance Party Conference would like to see abortion laws liberalised.

A call for universal access to safe and legal abortion 

Lawmakers and civil society leaders from over 30 countries are calling for universal access to safe, legal abortion. The declaration, released in Washington on Wednesday 26th March, comes in the context of a 20-year review by the United Nations of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. That landmark conference called for safe access to abortions in countries where the procedure was legal, while this latest declaration calls for the decriminalisation of abortion in all countries.

And finally…a happy story from Canada, two pro-choice organisations in Nova Scotia, recently ran a successful grassroots campaign to counteract anti-choice advertising on buses in Halifax, raising enough money to produce their own ads for the sexual and reproductive health services that they offer in their clinics. Their campaign was driven by seeing an increase in ads on local transit presenting misinformation and false claims about the risk of abortion.

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

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