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Ireland’s Sexual and Reproductive Health History

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2011

Feb Irish Medicines Board grants over-the-counter status to emergency contraceptive pill Norlevo. This means that the pill can be purchased directly from all pharmacies without a prescription.

Jan Emergency contraceptive pills are available directly from Boots pharmacies nationwide.

2010

Dec In the case of ABC v Ireland, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights unanimously rules that Ireland's failure to implement the existing constitutional right to a lawful abortion in Ireland when a woman's life is at risk violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Jul The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act is enacted. The Act provides for legally recognised same-sex relationships.

May A study, carried out by young people from the Dáil na nÓg Council, under the guidance of a professional researcher, found that almost three-quarters (74%) of senior cycle students (5th, 6th and transition years) received no sex education in 2009.

March A national opinion poll commissioned by Marie Stopes reveals that 78% of the population want liberalisation of Ireland's abortion laws. Support for abortion when a pregnancy seriously endangers a woman’s life is at 87%.

Jan Human Rights Watch publishes A State of Isolation: Access to Abortion for Women in Ireland. The report finds that Ireland is in direct violation of its international human rights obligations by actively seeking to restrict access to abortion services and information both within Ireland and for its residents seeking care abroad.

Jan Minister for Health, Mary Harney, reinstates plans to roll out an HPV vaccination programme for all girls in their first year of secondary school.

Jan CervicalCheck publishes Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Cervical Screening

2009

Dec Law Reform Commission publishes a report on medical treatment for young people and proposes that 16- and 17-year-olds should be allowed to consent to and refuse medical treatment including surgery and contraception. It also proposes that 14-and 15-year olds should be allowed to make their own decisions about medical treatment provided they understand the nature and consequences of the treatment.

Dec Three women known as A,B & C are granted an oral hearing before the 17 Judge Grand Chamber at the European Court of Human Rights. Legal representatives for the women argue that the criminalisation of abortion services in Ireland jeopardised their health and wellbeing. The Irish Government, represented by the Attorney General Paul Gallagher, argue that the women should have gone through the Irish courts. Judgement is expected in 6-18 months.

May The Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children releases its second report recommending that the substantive issues in relation to child sexual abuse should be dealt with on a legislative basis and not a referendum. The Committee also recommends measures be taken to prevent the criminalisation of young people who engage in consenting sexual activity.

2008

Nov Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, announces that the HPV vaccination programme will not be rolled out due to budgetary constraints.

Oct Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, announces that the Women's Health Council and the Crisis Pregnancy Agency will be dissolved as independent statutory agencies and will be subsumed in the Department of Health and Children and the Health Service Executive respectively.

Sep The National Cancer Screening Service rolls out CervicalCheck nationwide. The new programme allows all women aged 25 to 60 to receive free cervical smears from their GP or family planning clinic every three to five years, depending on their age.

Aug Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, announces the rollout of a free schools based HPV vaccination programme for all 12 year old girls to begin in September 2009.

Jul The UN Human Rights Committee criticises Ireland for its restrictive abortion laws, constitutional entrenchment of gender inequality, inadequacy of the proposed Civil Partnership Bill and failure to adequately punish perpetrators of domestic violence during the consideration of Ireland's third report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Jun Department of Health and Children publish the HIV and AIDS Education and Prevention Plan 2008 - 2012

Apr Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, publishes report on his visit to Ireland. In his report, the Commissioner expresses concern over the absence of legislation and guidance on when abortion is legally permissible in the State.

Mar The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) recommends the introduction of a HPV vaccination programme aimed at 12-year-old girls and a once-off catch-up programme for 13- to 15-year olds in the first year.

Jan Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen, announces that the V.A.T. rate on condoms will be reduced from 21% to 13.5% as set out in the 2008 Finance Act.

2007

Nov Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children is set up to review the proposed legislation (Twenty-Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2007) regarding the rights of children in the Constitution.

Oct Mr Justice McKechnie rules that the lack of provision for recognising transgendered people was incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights. This is the first declaration of incompatibility with the European Convention in Ireland.

Jun Fianna Fail, Green Party and PD coalition government publish its Programme for Government 2007 - 2012. The policy promises include "develop a national sexual health strategy, update the sex education programme in schools, and involve community health professionals in the delivery of the programme."

Jun Cosc, the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence is set up as an executive office in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Apr The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform launch National Women's Strategy 2007 - 2016 which recognises gender as an essential determinant of health and commits to improving the reproductive and sexual health status of women in Ireland.

May A 17-year-old woman known as Miss D with an anencephalic pregnancy goes to High Court to force the Health Service Executive to allow her to travel to obtain an abortion. The High Court rules that she has a right to travel.

Mar Ireland signs the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities which allows for the rights of persons with disabilities to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to age-appropriate information, reproductive and family planning education are recognized, and the means necessary to enable them to exercise these rights are provided.

Mar The Crisis Pregnancy Agency and the Department of Education and Science publish Relationship and Sexuality Education in the Context of SPHE, the most comprehensive study of sex education conducted in Ireland to date. The research finds that implementation is inconsistent across schools, 40% of schools did not have a formal RSE policy and there is a lack of clarity regarding the impact of a school's ethos on the content and and delivery of RSE programmes.

Feb Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, publishes Twenty-Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2007. This Bill proposes to change the Constitution to recognise the rights of children and also allow for the re-introduction of statutory rape laws as recommend by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Child Protection.

2006

Nov Joint Oireachtas Committee on Child Protection report recommends a constitutional referendum to allow for legislation that prohibits a defence of "honest belief" in any case involving sexual activity with a boy or girl under the age of 15. This concept is more commonly known as "statutory rape". The Committee also recommends lowering the age of consent to sexual activity from 17 to 16, except in cases involving a person of authority.

Oct The Crisis Pregnancy Agency and the Department of Health and Children publish The Irish Study of Sexual Health and Relationships. The study is the first nationally representative statistical data describing levels of sexual knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of adults (18+) in Ireland.

Sep The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child express concern that adolescents do not have sufficient access to necessary reproductive health information and urges the Government to improve efforts to end the practice of female genital mutilation during its consideration of Ireland's second report under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Jul European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rules D v Ireland inadmissible because the case did not go through the Irish Courts. The Irish Government relies on the argument that in the Applicant's particular circumstances, she could have been legally entitled to an abortion in Ireland should she have gone through the Irish courts system. The Applicant, known as D, argued that Ireland's ban on abortion in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities violated Articles 1, 3, 8, 20, 13 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Jul Joint Oireachtas Committee on Child Protection set up to review the substantive criminal law relating to sexual offences against children and to examine the issues surrounding the age of consent.

Jun Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 is enacted in response to the Supreme Court judgment which struck off the law dealing with statutory rape. The 2006 Act prohibits any sexual act or an attempt to engage in a sexual act with a boy or girl under the age of 17. The Act therefore sets the age at which a boy or girl can consent to sex at 17 and also has the effect of criminalising consensual sexual activity among young people under the age of 17.

May In a case brought by a young man known as CC v Ireland, the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecution, the Supreme Court rules that the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1935 was inconsistent with the Constitution and therefore had to be struck out. CC faced four charges under the 1935 Act for having sex with a 14 year old girl when he was 16. CC stated that he honestly believed the girl was 16 and argued that the 1935 Act was unconstitutional because it did not provide for a defence of "honest belief". Four days after the Supreme Court decision, Mr. A, a 41 year old man convicted of having sex with 12 year old girl under the 1935 Act, appeals his conviction and is released from prison. Mr A is re arrested three days later.

2005

Nov RTE removes ban on adverts for condoms

Aug Three women living in Ireland lodge their case to the European Court of Human Rights (A, B & C v Ireland) challenging Ireland’s abortion ban. The complaint alleges breaches of Articles 2 (protection of the right to life), 3 (freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment), 8 (protection of the right to family life) and 14 (protection for equal enjoyment of convention rights) of the Convention.

Aug Safe and Legal in Ireland campaign forms to demand legal abortion services in Ireland.

Jul The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women criticises Ireland for its persistent stereotypical views of the social roles and responsibilities of women, restrictive abortion laws and high level of violence against women during the consideration of Ireland's combined fourth and fifth report under the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.

2004

Oct On appeal from the FPA Northern Ireland, the High Court in Belfast declares that the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety has actively sought to avoid its responsibilities in relation to the provision of abortion services in Northern Ireland.

Sep The Crisis Pregnancy Agency publishes Irish Contraception and Crisis Pregnancy [ICCP] Study. This survey of the general population established, for the first time, current attitudes, knowledge and the experience of crisis pregnancy amongst women and men living in Ireland.

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2003

Jul Former Taoiseach John Bruton opposes the publication of a series of cartoon-style sex education booklets for young people, which were produced by the IFPA and the North Eastern Health Board. The launch of the books was postponed on short notice by the NEHB and the books were temporarily shelved.

Jun The Contraceptive Patch is introduced in Ireland.

May The Irish Medicines Board grants a license for the very first dedicated emergency contraception product in Ireland on a prescription only basis.

May The Labour Party formally adopts policy to support legislation to allow for abortions where there is a risk to the life or health of the pregnant woman, or where there is a foetal abnormality.

Apr The Vaginal Ring is introduced in Ireland.

2002

May The UN Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights criticises Ireland for not adopting a human rights framework in the recently published National Health Strategy, particularly with regards to the principles of non discrimination and equal access to health services.

Mar Irish voters reject the Twenty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy) Bill, 2002 which would remove threat of suicide as a ground for abortion and increase the penalties for helping a woman have an abortion. Voter turn out is 42.89% of total electorate. 50.42% vote against. 49.58% vote in favour.

2001

Oct The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, announces his plan to hold a referendum to roll back the right of pregnant women to an abortion where continuing the pregnancy would put their lives in danger because of the risk of suicide, as set out in the X case. Civil society mobilises under the umbrella name of Alliance for a NO Vote to campaign against the proposed amendment. The Labour Party, the Greens, the Socialist Party and Fine Gael also campaign against the proposed amendment.

Oct The Department of Health and Children establishes the Crisis Pregnancy Agency to prepare and implement a strategy to address the issue of crisis pregnancy in Ireland as recommended by the All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution's Fifth Progress Report on Abortion. The strategy is to provide for:

  • a reduction in the number of crisis pregnancies by the provision of education, advice and contraceptive services;
  • a reduction in the number of women with crisis pregnancies who opt for abortion by offering services and supports which make other options more attractive;
  • the provision of counselling and medical services after crisis pregnancy.

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2000

The UN Human Rights Committee expresses concern over Ireland's restrictive abortion laws and constitutional entrenchment of gender inequality during the consideration of Ireland's second report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Nov All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, chaired by Brian Lenihan, publishes its Fifth Progress Report: Abortion. The 700 page report is a political assessment of the issues raised in the Green Paper on Abortion, submissions received and hearings conducted. The Committee fails to reach a political consensus on the substantive legal issues of abortion but agrees on a strategy to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies. The report further recommends the establishment of a dedicated agency under the Department of Health and Children to implement the strategy. The report is sent to a Cabinet Subcommittee chaired by Minister for Health and Children Michael Martin for consideration.

Oct A pilot cervical screening programme commences in the Mid-West area.

Jun The Department of Health and Children publishes AIDS Strategy 2000

Jun The Irish Medicines Board refuses to license Levonelle, a dedicated emergency contraception product, because it considers it be an abortifacient. Ireland and Greece are the only EU countries without a licensed emergency contraceptive product.

1999

Sep Cabinet Committee chaired by Brian Cowen, Minister for Health and Children, publishes Green Paper on Abortion prepared by an Interdepartmental Working Group. The Green Paper aims to set out the issues surrounding abortion, provide a brief analysis and to consider possible options available.

1997

Nov A 13 year old girl, known as Miss C, is raped and becomes pregnant. The Eastern Health Board takes C into its care and in accordance with the girl's wishes, obtains orders from the District Court to take C abroad for an abortion. C's parents challenge these orders in the High Court case A and B v Eastern Health Board, District Court Judge Mary Fahy and C. Mr Justice Geoghegan rules that as Miss C was likely to take her own life if forced to continue with the pregnancy, she was entitled to an abortion in Ireland by virtue of the Supreme Court judgement in the 1992 X Case.

IFPA/UNFPA publish MORI poll demonstrating massive public support for family planning and sex education.

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1996

Dec Report of the Department of Health Cervical Screening Committee recommends the establishment of a national cervical screening programme

1995

May Regulation of Information (Services outside the State for the Termination of Pregnancies) Act 1995 is enacted. The Act allows doctors, advisory agencies and individual counsellors to give information on abortions services abroad should a woman request it. However, the Act requires any information on abortion services be provided along with information on parenting and adoption and may only be given the context of one to one counselling. The Act also prohibits service providers (including doctors) from making an appointment for a termination abroad on behalf of their client. Advisory agencies, doctors and counsellors that do not provide information on abortion services abroad but do engage in pregnancy counselling are not subject to the provisions of the Act.

May The Department of Health issues family planning policy guidelines to all health boards which:

  • require the Health boards to evaluate the current level of family planning services and the extent to which these meet current needs;
  • define what a comprehensive family planning service entails and what constitutes appropriate delivery of these services;
  • specifies that it is the responsibility of each Health Board to ensure the family planning needs of people living in remote areas are met;
  • recognises that family planning services for people living in disadvantaged areas, at risk groups and people with special needs will require a flexible approach to ensure that they are user friendly;
  • expands the eligibility criteria for free contraceptive service under the medical card scheme to include IUDs, caps, diaphragms and spermicidal jelly.

Jan Minister for Education, Niamh Bhreathnach announces the introduction of the Relationships and Sexuality Education for all post primary schools.

1994

May Minister for Health, Brendan Howlin, launches the Department of Health's national strategy Shaping a Healthier Future. The strategy includes a commitment to ensure a comprehensive and accessible family planning service in all health boards by the end of 1995.

Jan The Health Promotion Unit in the Department of Health publishes its first contraception leaflet. This is replaced later in the year by a contraception guide produced by the IFPA with Department of Health funding.

1993

Jul Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 1993 is enacted. The Act decriminalises consensual homosexual acts between adults.

Jun Health (Family Planning) (Amendment) Act 1993 is enacted. Condoms are no longer defined as a contraceptive and can therefore be deregulated. This means that there are virtually no restrictions on where condoms can be sold or supplied, including vending machines. The Act also removes any age limit on buying condoms.

May Department of Health launches TV and Radio campaign advocating condom use as a defence against HIV transmission.

1992

Nov As a result of the X case judgement and the issues relating to travelling and information on abortion, the Government puts forward three possible amendments to the Constitution in a referendum. The three amendments include:

  • The freedom to travel outside the State for an abortion - PASSED
  • The freedom to obtain or make available information on abortion services outside the State, subject to conditions - PASSED
  • To roll back the X Case judgement in order to remove suicide as a grounds for abortion in Ireland - REJECTED

The amendments relating to travel and information are passed but the amendment further restricting access to abortion is rejected.

Oct In the case of Open Door and Well Woman v Ireland, the European Court of Human Rights rules that Ireland violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights guaranteeing freedom of expression. The Court found that the Irish Courts' injunction against Open Door and Well Woman from receiving or imparting information on abortion services legally available in other countries was disproportionate and created a risk to the health of women seeking abortions outside the State.

Oct Minister for Health and Children, Dr John O'Connell appoints a committee of experts to review cervical screening in Ireland.

Jul Health (Family Planning) (Amendment) Act 1992 is enacted. The Act lowers the age at which a person can buy condoms from 18 to 17 without a prescription. Condoms can be sold outside of pharmacies but not in vending machines or areas where young people under 17 are unsupervised.

May In the wake of the X case, the Irish Government tries to renegotiate the Protocol to the Maastrich Treaty previously agreed to by EU Foreign Ministers to protect the Irish constitutional prohibition on abortion. The Irish Government wants to ensure rights to travel, information and any possible amendment to Article 40.3.3 are not limited by the Protocol. The Foreign Ministers refuse to renegotiate the protocol but eventually agree to a Solemn Declaration giving affect to the aforementioned issues.

Feb The Supreme Court rules in Attorney General v X that a 14 year old girl, known as X, pregnant as a result of rape, faces a real and substantial risk to her life due to threat of suicide and this threat could only be averted by the termination of her pregnancy. Therefore, X is entitled to an abortion in Ireland under the provision of article 40.3.3 of the Constitution that requires the State to have "due regard to the equal right life of the mother"

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1991

Dec Without consulting the Oireachtas, the Government under Charles Haughey negotiates a protocol to the Maastricht Treaty that seeks to protect the constitutional prohibition on abortion from any change that might be required as a result of EU membership. An Irish referendum on the Maastricht Treaty is to take place in June 2002.

Oct Upon the request of the Irish High Court in relation to the 1989 case to prevent student groups distributing information on abortion services in the UK, the European Court of Justice rules in SPUC v Grogan that abortion could constitute a service under the Treaty of Rome (Treaty of the European Economic Community) and therefore a Member State could not prohibit the distribution of information by agencies having a commercial relationship with foreign abortion clinics. However, the Court also rules that since the student groups had no direct links with abortion services outside of Ireland, they could not claim protection of European Community law.

Feb On Valentine's Day, the IFPA appeals against the conviction for the illegal sale of a condoms in a Virgin Megastore in Dublin. A week later Judge Hanrahan rejects the appeal and increases the fine to the maximum under the law of £500 for a first offence. Richard Branson, Millionaire CEO of Virgin Megastores, testifies on behalf of the IFPA. Irish rock band U2 steps in to pay the fine on behalf of the IFPA.

1990

Dec Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act, 1990 is enacted to introduce new crimes of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault and rape under section 4. The Act abolishes the ‘marital exemption’ clause whereby a husband could not be found guilty of raping his wife.

May IFPA is convicted by the District Court selling condoms without a license in the Virgin Record Store. A fine of £400 imposed.

IFPA produces documentary about people living with HIV/AIDS in Ireland called Stories from the Silence. The film is screened on RTE and later released as Ireland's first educational video on HIV/AIDS.

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1989

Dec SPUC appeals to the Supreme Court to overturn the decision of the High Court to seek clarification from the European Court of Justice before issuing a injunction. The Supreme Court finds that the activities of the student groups in relation to the provision of information on abortion services is unlawful and issues an injunction preventing their activities. The European Court of Justice is still to make a ruling.

Sep SPUC applies to the High Court to prevent student groups from disseminating leaflets with contact information of abortion service providers in England. The High Court refers certain questions to the European Court of Justice before delivering a judgement.

1988

Oct The European Court of Human Rights rules in the case of Norris v Ireland that the existence of laws in Ireland that criminalised certain homosexual acts carried out in private by consenting male adults constituted a breach of rights under Article 8 (Right to Private Life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mar Mr Justice Finlay of the Supreme Court rejects the appeal from Open Door and Dublin Well Woman to overturn the injunction on providing information on abortion services abroad and assisting women to obtain a legal abortion abroad. As a result of the judgement, Open Door is forced to close and the Dublin Well Woman stops offering pregnancy counselling. An appeal to the European Court of Human Rights is to follow.

Feb The IFPA opens a counter selling condoms at the Virgin Megastore in Dublin.

1986

Dec Mr Justice Hamilton, President of the High Court, finds that the activities of Open Door and Dublin Well Woman in counselling pregnant women on how to access safe and legal abortions abroad are in breach of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, as it undermined the right to life of the 'unborn'. The Dublin Well Woman Centre and Open Door Counselling are ordered to cease their counselling and information service that provides information on abortion and also to cease assisting women to obtain an abortion abroad. An appeal is to follow.

Sep The Attorney General joins SPUC in the case against Dublin Well Woman Centre and Open Door Counselling.

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1985

Jun The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) initiate High Court proceedings against Open Door Counselling and Dublin Well Woman Centre arguing that their pregnancy counselling service violates the new constitutional prohibition on abortion. SPUC seeks an injunction preventing the organisations from giving women information on abortion services legally available outside of Ireland.

Mar The Health (Family Planning)(Amendment) Act 1985 is enacted under Barry Desmond, Minister for Health. The Act allows for the sale of condoms and spermicides without a prescription to people aged 18 and over. However, condoms can only be sold in chemists, doctors' surgeries, health boards, family planning clinics and hospitals providing maternity services or treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

1984

Apr The bodies of two newborn babies are found in County Kerry. One was stabbed to death and the identity of the mother is never discovered. The other was found buried on a farm in a rural village. The mother gave birth at home after concealing her pregnancy and the baby subsequently died.

Jan A 15 year old school girl with a concealed pregnancy gives birth alone in a grotto in County Longford. The young girl and the new born baby are later found dead in the grotto.

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1983

Sep Referendum on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution is passed after a bitterly contested campaign. 53.67% of the electorate voted with 841 233 votes in favour and 416 136 against. Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution is amended to read: "The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right."

Dr Andrew Rynne is fined £500 for selling 10 condoms to a patient. This was the first case to be taken under the (Health) Family Planning Act 1979.

1981

May Criminal Law (Rape) Act 1981 is enacted under Sean Doherty, Minister for Justice. The Act defines rape as a common law offence committed by a man if he has unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman who does not consent to it. ‘Sexual intercourse’ is defined as penetration of the vagina by the penis.

1979

Jul Health (Family Planning) Act 1979 is enacted under Charles Haughey, Minister for Health. The Act legalises contraception but specifies that contraception, including condoms, are only available on prescription from a doctor and the doctor must be satisfied that the person is seeking the contraceptives for bona fide family planning purposes. This is largely interpreted to mean that only married couples are legally entitled to access contraception.

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1977

Jul The IFPA wins its High Court challenge to the banning of IFPA family planning guidebook and the booklet becomes available to the public again.

1976

Nov The Censorship Boards bans the IFPA family planning guidebook, originally published in 1971 and well into its second printing.

1975

The IFPA becomes a full member association of the International Planned Parenthood Association.

Ireland's second biggest city, Cork, opens its first Family Planning Clinic.

1974

Feb The IFPA announces that it has performed four vasectomies at the IFPA's clinic in Mountjoy Square.

Feb The IFPA and a similar company, Family Planning Services, face charges alleging the companies had sold, offered or advertised contraceptives. The case is dismissed in the District Court.

1973

Dec Supreme Court rules in McGee v. Attorney General and the Revenue Commissioners that when Customs, in accordance with the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1935, seized spermicidal jelly that Ms. McGee had ordered from England, her constitutional rights to privacy in marital affairs were violated.

Jul The Fertility Guidance Company Ltd changes its name to the Irish Family Planning Association.

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1972

The Rotunda becomes the first Irish Maternity Hospital to set up a family planning clinic that prescribes the contraceptive pill. Clients are referred to the Fertility Guidance Company if they prefer to be fitted for a diaphragm or an IUD.

1971

Dec Three members of the Education Committee of the Fertility Guidance Company publish Family Planning - A Guide for Parents and Prospective Parents. Huge demand for the book necessitates two further printings.

Jul Senators Mary Robinson, John Horgan and Trevor West attempt to introduce a Bill to amend the Acts preventing the sale and import of contraceptives. The bill is refused a reading and even denied publication.

May Members of the Irish Women's Liberation Movement travel by train to Belfast to purchase contraceptives. On their return to Dublin they challenge the customs officers at Connolly Train station to arrest them for illegal importation. The customs officers allow the women to pass.

The Fertility Guidance Company opens its second family planning clinic at 15 Mountjoy Square.

1970

Sep Doctors at the Fertility Guidance Company begin fitting IUDs for the first time in the Irish Republic.

Trinity College becomes the first Irish medical school to include family planning its curriculum.

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1969

Mar The Fertility Guidance Company Ltd (later to change its name to the IFPA) is established in Merrion Square Dublin 1. It is Ireland's first family planning clinic. The organisation sidesteps the law by providing contraception for free and clients then making a "donation".

1963

Pharmaceutical companies succeed in introducing the contraceptive pill in Ireland as a cycle regulator.

National Maternity Hospital opened a marriage guidance clinic giving advice only on the Rhythm method.

1946

Feb Censorship of Publications Act 1946 is enacted. The Act gives the Censorship Board the power to prohibit the sale and distribution of any book deemed to be obscene or indecent and also any book that "advocates the unnatural prevention of conception or the procurement of abortion or miscarriage or the use of any method, treatment or appliance for the purpose of such prevention or procurement".

1935

Feb Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1935 is enacted. The Act prohibits the sale, importation and advertising of any contraceptive, however, the Act does not specifically prohibit the use of contraceptives. The Act also makes it a crime to have "unlawful carnal knowledge" with girls under the age of 17, thereby raising the age of consent to sex from 16 to 17.

1929

Jul The Censorship of Publications Act 1929 is enacted. The Act prohibits selling, publishing, distributing or importing any publication that relates to contraception or abortion.

1885

Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 criminalises homosexual acts between men. No legislation exists criminalising homosexual acts between women.

1861

Offences Against the Person Act 1861 criminalises women who "procure a miscarriage". The punishment is penal servitude for life. The Act also makes it crime to help a woman "procure a miscarriage". The punishment is penal servitude for three years. These criminal laws remain on the Irish Statute books and are interpreted to criminalise abortion in all circumstances. Subsequent amendments to the Constitution and court cases have interpreted further the dimensions of abortion, however, the 1861 Act remains the basis of criminal law on abortion in Ireland.

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