Cork Women’s Right to Choose Group
Issued: Thursday 28th January, 2010 at 11.00am
Cork Women’s Right to Choose Group today welcomed the publication of the Human Rights Watch report “A State of Isolation: Access to Abortion for Women in Ireland.”
Spokeswoman Dr Sandra McAvoy said:
“The report does not just set out in legal language how Ireland is in breach of international human rights law. It demonstrates, in their own words, how real women’s health and well-being suffer because our government is blind to their needs. We are not talking small numbers. At least 140,000 Irish women have had abortions, have had the stress of a crisis pregnancy, from whatever cause, and then the stress of raising money and travelling abroad.
“The report lays out what an abortion costs, close to €1,000 after 15 weeks. On top of that there is travel cost, accommodation and childcare, if you have children. A waitress is quoted about how she was ‘so broke, I was up to my eyeballs in debt’ another woman talks about the stress of raising money, ‘there was panic over the money – there was a lot of panic.’ It talks about women going to loan sharks, with the threat of violence if they can’t pay back, and about women forced to continue pregnancies because they cannot afford to travel. The report shows that the situation is even more difficult for Traveller women and for asylum seekers whose allowance is €19.10 a week.
“Women talk about being made to feel they are doing something criminal because the penalty for having an abortion here is up to life imprisonment. One talks about ‘having to lie to everyone … the lies and the shame make you feel like you’re doing something really wrong, like a drug dealer.’ Abortion is available as a health service in other European countries and women in Ireland face the same health and pregnancy problems as their European sisters. Having an abortion has to be decriminalised.
“Other women talk about the lies they were told about abortion in rogue agencies, the activities of which have been known for at least a decade but on which the government has resisted taking action, though counselling services that provide genuine information are strictly regulated.
“The message is clear. This report and the three cases taken by Irish women to the European Court of Human Rights demonstrate that successive governments have been blind to real women’s needs. For thirty years they have been too much under the influence of anti-abortion lobbying groups, they deserve to have their failure to protect women’s health and well-being women exposed to international scrutiny. Making abortion illegal does not stop it happening, it simply makes it more stressful and dangerous. We call on the government to take the recommendations in the report seriously, to redress the balance, and begin to protect real, live women’s interests.”