Weekly Roundup: Increased restrictions, direct responses, and breaking down stigma

Welcome to another Weekly Roundup, where each week our MediaWatch team highlights how abortion is discussed in the media at home and abroad. Last week, we told you of an article from The Irish Times reporting the first abortion to be carried out under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. At first, the newspaper was called out on breaching patient confidentiality with this article, but it was later revealed that the procedure had not actually taken place as legislation is not yet in effect.

Since then, the national newspaper apologised for the article, however, solicitor Simon McGarr told Today FM’s Matt Cooper on Monday that this apology was inadequate in terms of media law.

“The Press Council of Ireland has a Code of Practice and this states that if there is a retraction a correction or a clarification that has to be published, it should be given due prominence,” he said.

McGarr stated that an apology for a front-page article should be published within the first four pages of the publication under this code, whereas the Times opted for two paragraphs on page 7 and what McGarr describes as a “cryptic statement”.

Reaction to new guidelines in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSS&PS) recently produced a guidance document for health and social care professionals on termination of pregnancy in Northern Ireland. This document has been heavily criticised by women’s groups and abortion rights campaigners in the North for controversial guidelines introduced and for the language used. Emma Campbell of Alliance for Choice Belfast has comprehensively gathered the reactions of these groups.

Abortion access being restricted in US and Spain

It was Labour Day weekend in the US this past weekend, and officials in Iowa apparently took advantage of the holiday distraction, taking the opportunity to limit reproductive health access for women in the state. On Friday, Iowa’s Board of Medicine voted to eliminate the country’s largest telemedicine abortion programme, preventing doctors there from using video technology to prescribe abortion-inducing drugs, ThinkProgress reports. This decision will have the greatest impact on women in rural areas and those on a low income with no means to travel to local clinics.

Abortion access across the States is becoming increasingly limited with almost 1 in 10 abortion clinics shutting down or no longer providing the procedure since 2011, according to Bloomberg.

“A wave of regulations that makes it too expensive or logistically impossible for facilities to remain in business drove at least a third of the closings. Demographic changes, declining demand, industry consolidation, doctor retirements and crackdowns on unfit providers were also behind the drop,” writes Esmé E. Deprez.

In California, however, legislators are bucking the trend with a bill on the way Democratic governor Jerry Brown that would make it easier for rural women to terminate pregnancies by allowing nurse practitioners and midwives to perform abortions in the first 12 weeks.

Meanwhile, in Spain, the conservative government wants to impose more limitations on abortion with proposed changes to its current law, reports UPI.com. It has been indicated by Spain’s Minister for Justice Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon that this proposal will limit abortions to circumstances where the woman’s health or life is in danger. It will also require girls under the age of 18 to have parental consent to receive an abortion

Opening up discussion on abortion

In this month of the actions centering around decriminalising abortion across the globe, we can stop to remember that though it was 30 years ago today, September 7th, that the 8th Amendment to the Constitution was passed was passed by the Dail, and we’re still fighting, the world is a very different place and we have a number of events and stories that signify and exemplify those sea changes!

On Sunday, a wedding announcement in The New York Times struck a chord with pro-choice campaigners worldwide. Looking back over the 14-year relationship of newlyweds Udonis Haslem, a basketball player with the Miami Heat, and Faith Rein, the article made reference to an abortion Rein had years before. The mere fact that this event in the couple’s timeline was referred to in a matter-of-fact and personal way speaks to a future we all want to know: when abortion can be spoken of openly, as simply something that some women and couples go through, with no judgement attached.

We know our pro-choice pals are a multi-talented bunch and we’re calling on pro-choice musicians to march and play for choice at the March for Choice on September 28th. We need brass, wind, percussion and singers to form the core group. Register your interest in joining the musical march be emailing musiciansforchoice[at]gmail[dot]com by September 9th.