Remove criminal sanctions from abortion bill.
As TDs debate the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill, Irish women – supported by 22 women’s organisations from across the European Union, including the National Women’s Council of Ireland – today presented a call to the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister for Health for the decriminalisation of abortion in Ireland.
Sinead Kennedy of Action on X said:
“The governments Bill would replace one law which makes abortion a criminal offence for another that does the same – with a 14-year sentence or a fine for women or their doctors. This is unacceptable and must be removed from the Bill.
The criminal sanctions in the Bill will retain the ‘chilling effect’ on doctors and women that was highlighted by the European Court of Human Rights in the ABC Ruling. This chilling effect is reinforced by the onerous reporting requirements on doctors and the powers to suspend a hospital if the Minister thinks it is stepping outside the rules.
Combined with the continued lack of clarity on when doctors can terminate a pregnancy to remove a risk to the life of a woman or girl, the threat of criminal conviction will make doctors more likely to delay a necessary termination and increase the risks to women and girls.”
Ailbhe Smyth of Action on X said:
“Women who buy abortion pills, and anybody helping them, will also be criminalised by this Bill. This will not stop women procuring the pills but it will make them less likely to seek the aftercare they may need. In any countries where abortion is criminalised, the outcome is not fewer abortions but higher rates of injury to women.
The hypocrisy of the government is shown by the threat of a criminal conviction for abortion in Section 22 of the Bill, but the explicit permission for women to go abroad for abortions in Section 17. It’s all right as long as it’s done abroad, out of sight, at financial and emotional cost to women. Abortion will continue to exist in Ireland, but will be forced overseas and continue to be stigmatised through being criminalised by this Bill.
Along with women’s organisations from across Europe, we call on the government to remove the criminal sanctions on abortion contained in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.”
Protest at the Dáil at 6 pm next Wednesday 10th.