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Members of Oireachtas All Party Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights call for clarity around abortion law review

By May 25, 2021News

—Cross-party group urge the appointment of a Chair independent of government with expertise in sexual and reproductive health and rights to oversee the review—

The Minister for Health must urgently provide details about the review of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018. This is the message of the Oireachtas All Party Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights on the third anniversary of the repeal of the Eighth Amendment (Tuesday, May 25th 2021)

Senator Annie Hoey said: “It is critical that this review draws on the experience of abortion care in Ireland and examines how the abortion law and abortion services are working and whether they are meeting the needs of those seeking and providing care.”

Deputy Holly Cairns said: “For the review to be effective, a well-structured, evidence-based process inclusive of stakeholders is key. However, it is currently unclear how the Department of Health intends to conduct the review. We urge the Minister for Health to publish the terms of reference and timeline for this process.”

Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee said: “We are calling for the establishment of a review group, with a Chair independent of government who has expertise in sexual and reproductive health and rights. Membership of the group should include healthcare providers delivering abortion services and patient representatives, including those who have been unable to access abortion care in Ireland.”

The All Party Group has issued the following statement:

Statement regarding the review of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018

The public debate on the principle of access to abortion was definitively settled in 2018 with the 66.4% majority vote in favour of law reform. The upcoming review was built into the law to provide an opportunity to revisit legislation that was developed in the absence of practical experience in Ireland of providing abortion care outside extremely limited circumstances.

It is critical that the review draws on the experience of abortion care in Ireland and examines how the abortion law and abortion services are working and whether they are meeting the needs of those seeking and providing care.

For the review to be effective, a well-structured, evidence-based process inclusive of stakeholders is key. However, it is currently unclear how the Department of Health intends to conduct the review. We urge the Minister for Health to publish the terms of reference and timeline for this process.

There is established good practice with respect to legislative reviews. Previous processes, such as the review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015, have been comprehensive, inclusive and effective, and are well regarded by both policymakers and civil society.

In light of this, we call for the establishment of a review group, with a Chair independent of government who has expertise in sexual and reproductive health and rights. Membership of the group should include healthcare providers who deliver services under Sections 9-12 of the 2018 Act and patient representatives, including individuals who have accessed abortion services in Ireland and people who have been unable to access this care.

We urge the Minister for Health to ensure a transparent review process that will draw on the wealth of Irish and international evidence concerning abortion care and reproductive rights to ensure that the recommendations are evidence-based and informed by international standards and norms with regard to abortion care and reproductive health law.

Signed:

Senator Annie Hoey (Labour Party)

Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee (Fianna Fáil)

Holly Cairns TD (Social Democrats)

Senator Alice Mary Higgins (Independent)

Senator Fiona O’Loughlin (Fianna Fáil)

Senator John McGahon (Fine Gael)

Neale Richmond TD (Fine Gael)

Senator Lynn Ruane (Independent)

Senator Erin McGreehan (Fianna Fáil)

Jennifer Whitmore TD (Social Democrats)

David Cullinane TD (Sinn Féin)

Senator Ivana Bacik (Labour Party)

Senator Rebecca Moynihan (Labour Party)

Senator Marie Sherlock (Labour Party)

Senator Mark Wall (Labour Party)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill TD (Fine Gael)

Senator Pauline O’Reilly (Green Party)

Neasa Hourigan TD (Green Party)

Brid Smith TD (People Before Profit)

Senator Mary Fitzpatrick (Fianna Fáil)

Senator Pippa Hackett (Green Party)

 

Ends

Contact: Maeve Taylor, Irish Family Planning Association (Secretariat to the All Party Group)

Mobile: 086 795 2167

 

Notes to the Editor

Founded in 2000, the Oireachtas All Party Group (APG) on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights is a cross-party interest group whose purpose is to ensure that sexual and reproductive health and rights are central to Irish government policy.

The group consists of members of all political parties, and of independents, in the Dáil and Seanad, reflecting the broad support for reproductive rights across the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) provides the Secretariat to the group. It is co-chaired by Senator Annie Hoey (Labour), Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee (Fianna Fáil) and Deputy Holly Cairns (Social Democrats).