Needs of despairing women ignored – lives will be put at risk
Expert Group recommendations ignored
Commenting on the government’s draft bill on abortion, Clare Daly TD and Joan Collins TD called for changes to deal with shortcomings in the Bill:
Clare Daly said:
“Today, May Day, when women have fought for their rights as workers, we are still fighting for our rights as women. I welcome the publication of the government’s proposals for minimal legislation on abortion, but it contains restrictions that will continue to put women’s lives at risk.
There are neither medical nor social grounds for requiring the approval of three consultants to agree to abortion for a despairing woman, driven towards suicide because of unwanted pregnancy. A psychiatric emergency is no different to a medical emergency and is treated as such by clinicians. If one of the government’s panel of three says ‘no’, it is up to the woman to push for an appeal to another three. Most women would give up at the possibility of a second refusal and be driven further into despair, or forced overseas – if they can afford it. This must change: no more than two medical practitioners should be required to approve abortion for suicidal women.
Women who cannot face these obstacles, and induce abortion themselves, are threatened with 14 years in prison. They would be branded as criminals if they obtain abortions in Ireland – yet the government is happy to see it done in Liverpool. The ‘chilling factor’ of criminalisation referred to by the ECHR has been transferred from doctors to women. This hypocrisy must end: abortion must be decriminalised.”
Joan Collins said:
“The government has ignored Art 6.4.1 of its own Expert Group Report, which said that two doctors was enough to make a clinical decision on the risks to a woman’s life because of physical or mental health condition. They have also ignored the views of the majority, who support legislation for the X case, and organisations including SIPTU, Unite the Union, the National Women’s Council of Ireland and the Union of Students in Ireland – representing hundreds of thousands of people. They have called for no more than two medical practitioners as sufficient to approve abortion.
This Bill is a political compromise with Fine Gael backbenchers and the anti-abortion minority, which will compromise women’s lives rather than meet women’s needs. It also reinforces the distinction between a woman’s life and her health and welfare – where a woman who could be permanently incapacitated by pregnancy cannot get an abortion. The 8th Amendment must be repealed and women’s health needs and choices provided for.
We will be examining this draft Bill in the coming days and will table amendments to remove the unnecessary restrictions contained in it.”