Cork Women’s Right to Choose Group (CWRCG) begins its campaign to Repeal of the Eighth Amendment today.
Pro-Choice organisations supported attempts to legislate on the X Case because of the symbolic importance of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
As amendment after amendment was rejected, it became clear that the legislation would be very restrictive and represented no advance in women’s rights. Indeed, the section dealing with suicidal women, in particular, seems designed to ensure those who can afford it can travel to England while those too poor or sick to travel risk involuntary admission to a mental hospital.
In particular CWRCG would point to the penalties that can be imposed on any woman having an abortion outside the framework of the new Act:
CWRCG spokesperson Sandra McAvoy explained:
“We know that hundreds, if not thousands, of Irish women are now using the ‘abortion pills’ to self-abort every year. A punitive fine and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, as provided for by the new law, will only make these women much less likely to seek medical assistance if they suffer complications. It does not take much imagination to understand that a young girl, afraid to tell anyone she is pregnant may access pills through the internet and be terrified to seek help if she bleeds profusely.
By continuing the criminalisation of women self-aborting in Ireland (while guaranteeing the right to travel for an abortion) far from resulting in the “Protection of Life” this new Act will actually endanger the lives of the increasing number of women who take this pill in the first nine weeks of pregnancy.’
Thousands of women every year will continue to make the difficult decision to seek an abortion. Bizarrely, the same legislation that threatens them with prison for having abortions in Ireland protects their rights to travel and to obtain information on having abortions abroad. CWRCG, like the rest of the Pro-Choice movement in Ireland, will continue to offer what support we can to women going through this process. Alongside that we will continue to fight to bring about real change in Ireland that will see the end to the current dark-ages approach to women’s rights. The only way to do that is to repeal the 8th Amendment.