by Alexandra Topping
Thursday 28 January 2010
What Human Rights Watch discovered in its investigations of abortion laws and pro-life groups in Ireland
The Human Rights Watch report A State of Isolation: Access to Abortion for Women in Ireland accuses the Irish government of limiting information about how to access abortion services abroad.
According to the report, "rogue" agencies, representing themselves as providers of information about abortion, have told women that, should they choose to have an abortion, their relationships are likely to fail, that they may become infertile or need a hysterectomy, or a colostomy bag after the procedure.
Sinead Ahern from Choice Ireland, a pro-choice group, went undercover to visit an agency. Having told the woman that she was five weeks pregnant, at which point her foetus would have been the size of a grain of rice, she was shown a plastic fetus the size of a pen.
"[The woman] told me that's what my baby looked like … the plastic foetus was sucking its thumb and had eyelashes."
She described being asked to sign a consent form. "It said I understand that I most certainly will need a hysterectomy ... that I might end up with the need for a colostomy bag ... [it said] most women end up with infections, infertile."
Another woman who visited an agency with her boyfriend described being separated from him. "They said I'd probably never have kids [if I had an abortion] that we'd probably split up … They said your family is going to reject you."
A women who contacted a service called British Alternatives in the Golden Pages [the Irish equivalent of the Yellow Pages] was asked from the start of her consultation about adoption.
"I was devastated I was in this situation and I was afraid of getting a doctor who was unsympathetic [...] Nothing tipped me off about whether they were pro-life. I was in a state and just looking for something friendly. British Alternatives sounded very friendly."
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