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Sat May 25, 2019, 07:41 PM

Ireland : A year on from the abortion referendum concerns remain

A year ago today, on May 25th, 2018, more than two million men and women cast their vote in one of the most significant referendums in Irish history. After weeks of intense campaigning, those on both the Yes and No sides had done all they could to convince voters why they should or should not repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. The Government had laid out its stall: if the vote passed, abortion would be legalised up to 12 weeks without restriction. The 12-week proposition came about because of the widespread unregulated use of abortion pills. Beyond this, terminations would be permitted in the case of fatal foetal abnormality or where the life or health of the woman was at risk. The landslide victory was to be confirmed the next day with a final result of 66.4 per cent in favour of repeal to 33.6 per cent against.


The Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill, which made provision for abortion, would go on to be debated in the Dáil for weeks, with more than 350 amendments tabled. The only amendments that passed were Government changes. On December 13th, just after 8pm, the Bill passed all stages in the Oireachtas. “This is a genuinely historic moment,” Minister for Health Simon Harris said at the time. “It paves the way for the implementation of the service for termination of pregnancy in January 2019.” Dr Peter Boylan, who assisted the Health Service Executive in the roll-out of abortion services, says that on reflection, Harris was right to set that deadline.
“I think Simon Harris deserves an awful lot of credit for leading this politically. He also deserves credit for setting the January 1st deadline. If he hadn’t set a date, we would still be talking about it and going around and around in circles talking about guidelines.”


Five months on from that January deadline, about 319 general practitioners have signed up to provide the service with 10 out of 19 maternity units providing full abortion care. According to the HSE, all maternity services are providing some level of care including managing complications arising from terminations, care and supervision where there is a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality, referral to other tertiary units, and care and supervision where maternal life or health is at risk. “That has been a positive for the hospitals. The issue of conscientious objection was a difficult and complex one to solve, but we did solve it. We are respectful of staff who can participate and respectful of staff who have limitations. It is useful to understand that conscientious objection is not a black and white thing.”


For campaigners like Smyth, they are looking for changes to the law when a review of the legislation is carried out in 2˝ years’ time. They have concerns that the three-day wait before a patient can access abortion medication is causing issues for women who live rurally and also for migrant women. “It is important for us to really ensure that abortion is genuinely available under the terms of the law to everyone who needs it and we are not there yet.” She is also concerned about criminalisation, and access to free contraception.
Under the new law, any woman who accesses an abortion in circumstances beyond the legal grounds will not face criminalisation, but doctors who perform illegal abortions or family and friends who help a woman access an illegal termination could still face 14 years in prison. A spokeswoman for the Minister for Health said that a working group looking at how to provide free contraception will report back in September. Legislation to provide for “exclusion zones” against protesters outside healthcare centres that provide abortion is due before Cabinet next month.


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Reply Ireland : A year on from the abortion referendum concerns remain (Original post)
OnDoutside May 2019 OP
Dawson Leery May 2019 #1

Response to OnDoutside (Original post)

Sat May 25, 2019, 08:23 PM

1. k/r

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