The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) today launched the results of a research survey evaluating individuals’ experiences of abortion care in Ireland since the Repeal of the 8th Amendment. The findings show significant gaps in information provision, negative impacts of the mandatory three day waiting period, and the significant barriers to access for those over 12 weeks gestation.
Speaking on the launch of the report today, spokesperson for ARC Helen Stonehouse said, “While abortion services in Ireland are working well for some people, there are clearly too many people impacted by barriers to access. Abortion care should not be a lottery where you may or may not get the health care you need, and indeed that care may not be delivered with dignity and respect.”
Findings of the study include:
- More than half of respondents did not know where to go to get an abortion.
- One in five respondents (19%) were refused abortion care and were not referred on to another provider, despite onward referral being required by legislation.
- Respondents who accessed abortion before 10 weeks through GPs reported generally positive experiences. However, those who accessed abortion after 10 weeks through maternity hospitals reported overwhelmingly negative experiences, including problems with scans, facilities and negative attitudes of hospital staff.
- 22% of respondents did not feel they were treated with dignity and respect by providers, with some experiencing racism and judgement from staff.
- Participants found the three day waiting period “demeaning” and inducing “undue stress and anxiety”.
- Irish residents continue to travel abroad for care, as the criminalisation of doctors leaves them “wary” of providing the care that people need.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Mara Clarke of the Abortion Support Network (ASN) stated: “This report gives evidence to what Abortion Support Network has been saying for years – when provision of abortion in Ireland works, it is very good, but when it doesn’t, it is horrid. We know from the calls we continue to get from the Republic of Ireland that many people are left behind by the provision, that there is very little knowledge of what to do with people who fall outside of provision, and that the system is particularly failing people who are marginalised or at risk. This needs to change – and soon.”
Despite the landslide referendum victory, the research indicates that many patients are still experiencing stigma and obstruction while accessing abortion care. One participant stated: “A doctor in an Irish hospital withheld a prescription she was advised by another doctor to issue me until she told me how horrific abortion was in her opinion and how she voted against it and absolutely did not agree with what I had done.”
Many participants described the emotional and practical impacts of the medically unnecessary three day wait; particularly those in already complex circumstances, with one sharing that, “It made the experience more stressful. I was hiding it from my partner at the time so the multiple appointments and delay while having to lie was extremely difficult for me.”
The Abortion Rights Campaign calls on the government to listen to the experiences of people using Ireland’s abortion services and remove unnecessary barriers to care without delay.
The report is available at : https://www.abortionrightscampaign.ie/research
Speakers at today’s launch include Dr Lorraine Grimes from Maynooth University, the primary data analyst on the project; Dr Mary Favier, a GP in Cork who is co-chair of Global Doctors for Choice; Máiréad Enright, a reader in Feminist Legal Studies at the University of Birmingham and founder member of Lawyers for Choice; and Mara Clarke, the founder of the Abortion Support Network.
The Abortion Rights Campaign are holding a demonstration at the Dáil for the 10th Annual March for Choice this Saturday September 25th at 2pm.
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