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Review of abortion law must focus on access barriers

By May 25, 2021News

—Flaws in the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 are placing inequitable burdens on many who need access to abortion care—

On the third anniversary of the landslide vote which paved the way for the introduction of abortion care, the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) says serious flaws in Ireland’s abortion law (the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018) continue to undermine access.

Niall Behan, IFPA Chief Executive said “Three years after the referendum, we have a law that is progressive in many ways. But the 2018 Act has serious flaws.

“Women who have made a considered decision about their pregnancy endure stress, anxiety and delay because of the mandatory waiting period.

“Our clients include women who had to travel abroad for abortion, even during the pandemic, because their pregnancy fell outside the gestational limit and the eligibility criteria after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

“These restrictions unacceptably undermine access to care. They are compounded by the failure of 50% of eligible hospitals, and many GP services nationwide, to offer abortion care.”

A review of the implementation of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 is to commence by the end of this year.

Mr Behan said, “The IFPA views the review as a critical opportunity to assess the implementation of the 2018 Act, both positive developments, such as the introduction of telemedicine abortion, and also the impacts of the regressive provisions, including the criminalisation of abortion outside the Act.

“The review process must lead to comprehensive reforms that support reproductive autonomy in the spirit of the public vote three years ago”.

Ends

For press and media queries please contact Leah Palleschi, Advocacy and Communications Project Officer, at press@ifpa.ie or on 0834237043

Notes

  • The IFPA is Ireland’s leading sexual health provider. The organisation offers a comprehensive range of services which promote sexual health and support reproductive choice on a not-for-profit basis, and promotes the right of all people to comprehensive, dedicated and affordable sexual and reproductive health information and services.
  • A new article in the International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics—co-authored by the IFPA’s Medical Director, Dr Caitríona Henchion and colleagues, Alison Spillane, Policy and Research Officer, Maeve Taylor, Director of Advocacy, and Head Counsellor, Róisín Venables, with Dr Catherine Conon, Trinity College School of Social Policy—makes the case for telemedicine as part of the abortion care pathway: Early abortion care during the COVID-19 public health emergency in Ireland: Implications for law, policy, and service delivery. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2021 Apr 24. doi: 10.1002/ijgo.13720. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33893642. Available online: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33893642/