Women still travelling for abortion – time for audit of services

Ivana Bacik TD
12 July 2022
  • Services not adequate when more than 200 women had to travel for abortion care in 2021

Labour leader Ivana Bacik has called for a full audit of abortion services across the country following the publication of the Unplanned Pregnancy and Abortion Care (UnPAC) study conducted by Trinity College Dublin. Responding to the lack of services available outside the main urban centres, Deputy Bacik said that government must ensure that more GPs will provide access to abortion care for women.

With a report published last month outlining how over 200 women were forced to make the lonely journey to the UK to obtain abortions in 2021, Deputy Bacik pointed out the inadequacy of the current level of service provision for women.

Deputy Bacik said:

“In 2018, people voted for repeal of the Eighth Amendment to enable women to have access to abortion care in this country. However, four years on, we still see real failures in provision. We know that there are 13 counties in which less than 10 GPs provide abortion care, and we are aware that many counties have no GPs providing services.

“Minister Donnelly needs to outline when the abortion review will be published, but it is clear already that the legislation is not providing the level of access required. Many women outside major urban centres are forced to travel to a city-based GP for care – and they have to make the journey twice due to the three day waiting period requirement. Even when they do travel to see a GP who is willing to provide abortion care, the legislation may restrict their access. Last year, we know that over 200 women had to travel to Britain to obtain abortions for that reason.

“Every woman who must take that lonely journey represents a failure to deliver on the mandate given by 66.4% of the electorate in 2018. With the abortion review ongoing, we need to ensure effective access to abortion here in Ireland for those women who need it.

“The harrowing testimony provided by women in the report published today discloses that far too many have faced the awful scenario of waiting to see if the foetal condition is ‘fatal enough’ for them to access a termination after 12 weeks.

“I welcome the Government announcement today about Safe Access Zones, but this is coming very late – we have been calling for introduction of such laws for four years. Now we need to see the new laws brought into force urgently to ensure that women are not intimidated when they seek to access abortion services.

“The referendum campaign triggered a national conversation about the adverse effects of prohibiting abortion; we heard powerful testimonies from those whose lives were touched by tragedy because of draconian laws outlawing abortion. Following the repeal referendum, we must now ensure that our legislation provides effective protection for women’s reproductive healthcare rights. This is about providing support in a crisis, and ensuring safe access to abortion for all who need it.”

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