Almost five years’ on from Repeal and still waiting for abortion review

Senator Annie Hoey image
16 February 2023

Labour Senator and Oireachtas Health Committee member Annie Hoey has demanded the publication of the review into the operation of Ireland’s abortion laws.

Senator Hoey said that a range of barriers remain in place for people who need access to abortion. Urgent change is needed.

Senator Hoey said:

“Despite the vote to repeal the Amendment in 2018 and the introduction of the Abortion Act, there is still much work to be done to ensure that women have full access to reproductive health services and care.

“The Labour Party is concerned that some regional hospitals with maternity units are failing to provide abortion care services. HSE data reveals that only 11 out of 19 maternity hospitals provide abortion services, and just one in 10 GPs.

“Indeed nationwide there is a huge disparity in terms of access. Research published by Unplanned Pregnancy and Abortion Care (UnPAC) in July 2022 showed that there are 13 counties in which less than 10 GPs provide abortion care, and we are aware that some counties have no GPs providing services.

“Since the introduction of abortion in Ireland, we have seen areas that can be and must be improved to provide safe, legal, local access.

“Crucially, we must see the three-day waiting period repealed. It disproportionately affects abortion access for those who live outside of urban areas, in places where there are limited or no abortion providers, and who are financially or socially vulnerable.

“The 12-week limit must also be extended and this must be coupled with an amended definition of a condition likely to lead to the death of a foetus. This provision is unduly restrictive and imposes an arbitrary time period upon doctors’ capacity to diagnose fatal foetal conditions.

“The effect of the provision has been that, as research published by the National Women’s Council and TFMR has shown, women and couples have had to continue to travel outside the country, often in the most difficult of personal circumstances after a heart-breaking medical diagnosis, to end their pregnancies.

“We need to see the reform and amendment of the 2018 Act and of reproductive healthcare policies, to ensure that the needs of women who require improved access to abortion services are addressed; and that the barriers to access identified are removed. Only through this process can women’s right to access abortion services be truly vindicated.”

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