Weekly Roundup: TFMR petition the UN, BPAS weighs in on the ‘Irish Solution’ and the struggle for reproductive rights continues overseas

Welcome to another Weekly Roundup, where each week our media team highlights how abortion is discussed at home and abroad. This week: TFMR ask the UN to denounce the prohibition on abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities as “cruel and inhumane”; BPAS weighs in on the abortion debate here in Ireland and Kitty Holland is named Journalist of the Year for her work breaking Savita’s story last November.

Fatal Fetal Abnormalities at the UN

Three women from Terminations for Medical Reasons (TFMR), who lobby for abortion access in Ireland in cases of fatal fetal abnormalities, are petitioning the United Nations Human Rights Committee over the next year. In the Irish Times, Amanda Mellet, Ruth Bowie and Siobhain Murphy each insist that being forced to leave the country to terminate their pregnancies following diagnoses of fatal fetal abnormalities constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. According to Ms Bowie, in circumstances sucha as hers, “the system should wrap its arms around you, instead it turns its back on you”. We wish Ms Mellet, Ms Bowie and Ms Murphy the best of luck in their case.

BPAS weighs in

Earlier this month, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) placed a notice in the Irish Times calling for the Irish government to provide for abortion care in Ireland, it contained the following text:

As if deciding to have an abortion wasn’t enough of a journey, almost 4,000 Irish women have to travel to Britain for help every year. We’ll care for your women until your government does.

The notice attracted responses from a large number of media outlets. TheJournal pointed out that 3,982 women having abortions in the UK last year gave Irish addresses. The Evening Echo, quoting BPAS’s director of press and public policy, Clare Murphy – highlighted the contradiction between women having to travel to BPAS clinics in the UK for abortion services, and the Irish government then denying BPAS a place at Oireachtas hearings preceding the Life During Pregnancy Act. The Echo went on to point out that BPAS have “absolutely no” business or financial interest in changing Irish laws- that this campaign is solely about ‘helping the women [they] see access the care they need at home”.

The Irish Independent had a similar take on the story, adding that BPAS “was forced to weigh into the row after being shocked at the fall-out over new laws allowing for terminations only in certain circumstances” which “maintains the status quo and changes absolutely nothing” for women in Ireland. The Irish Examiner, Kildare Nationalist, and IrishCentral.com, among others, responded similarly to BPAS’s actions. The week after BPAS’s advertisement, Ciara Meehan responded to the surrounding discussions with a fascinating column in TheJournal placing the current conversations in their historical context, from the thriving backstreet abortion industry until the 1940s, to the Eighth Amendment of 1983, via attempts to deal with Ireland’s exporting of abortions back in the 1970s through proposing assistance for single mothers.

Congratulations, Kitty Holland

Many congratulations to Kitty Holland, who was named Journalist of the Year this month at the annual National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) Awards for her work breaking Savita Halappanavar’s story last November. The Irish Times reports NNI judging panel’s chairperson Michael Brophy as describing this story as one which permanently changed the discourse in Ireland, where “the reader… quickly realises that things in the future will not be the same as they were in the past”

Reproductive Rights Overseas

The fight to restore access to abortion in Texas has continued, after courts “first struck down, and then mandated” new legislation requiring doctors performing abortions to have hospital admitting privileges- a law that does nothing to promote abortion safety, but creates additional hurdles for abortion providers and drastically reduces the amount of clinics which can offer abortion services in the state. Al Jazeera reports on the difficulties Texas women now face with many forced to travel many hundreds of miles to access the services they need, and the support networks that have been developed to assist women forced to travel- a familiar story for Irish readers. The LA Times has published a short guide to the legislation, efforts to prevent its passing, and what it means for pregnant people in Texas.

At the end of last month, RH Reality Check wrote about the consequences of criminalisation of abortion– with women being sentenced to jail and hard labour, and experiencing severe cruelty at the hands of police in countries throughout the world where abortion is outlawed. A warning- the article includes some disturbing reading and descriptions of abuse.

Guttmacher.org reported on a Mexican study linking high abortion rates to lack of access to effective contraception methods and family planning programs. The study also noted that, while “almost no complications result from legal abortions … more than one-third of all women having a clandestine abortion (36%) experience complications that need medical treatment from a health facility, but an estimated 25% of them do not receive the care they need”.