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Today, 7th December 2016, the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) will host its annual seminar. The seminar, entitled “Reforming Ireland’s abortion laws: Developing women-centred healthcare practice in post-repeal Ireland” will take place at 6.30pm at the Ashling Hotel, Parkgate St, Dublin 8. A panel of eminent speakers will address the question of what regulatory framework could follow repeal of the Eighth Amendment that would support best medical practice in reproductive healthcare. 

Professor Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, a distinguished obstetrician who was chair of a panel of inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar, will address the seminar. Speaking ahead of the event, he said “In any consideration of reform of Ireland’s abortion laws, it is important to look to international best practice norms and guidelines for reproductive health services, including abortion services.”

Professor Arulkumaran is of the view that regulation of abortion in criminal law is inappropriate.  He said, “The World Health Organisation and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics favours liberalisation of abortion laws. Criminalisation of abortion only increases mortality, without decreasing incidence of induced abortions.”

Also speaking at the event will be Professor Rebecca Cook, a Canadian expert on reproductive health and rights and Dr Caitriona Henchion, IFPA Medical Director. The event will be chaired by Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital.

IFPA CEO Niall Behan said “With the work of the Citizens’ Assembly ongoing, the question of what could come after repeal of the Eighth Amendment is pertinent. In this discussion, it’s vital that we hear from medical experts about how we can ensure the highest standard of reproductive care to women, including safe abortion services.”

He continued, “From our services at the IFPA, including pregnancy counselling and post-abortion care, we know that Ireland’s abortion laws are completely unworkable.”

Mr Behan concluded, “We cannot allow women’s health to continue to be put at risk by the necessity to travel to access safe abortion. We urgently need a framework that draws on international best practice in order to ensure that women’s health and dignity is respected, and to ensure that healthcare providers are supported in providing women with rights-based care.”