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All women’s choices in pregnancy must be supported - NWCI outlines recommendations to Citizen’s AssemblyAll women’s choices in pregnancy must be suppo

Published: Sunday, March 05, 2017

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today presented to the Citizen’s Assembly, highlighting the reasons we need to repeal the 8th amendment, and outlining NWCI’s recommendation for a model that would combine a period of abortion on request with abortion in exceptional circumstances. 

Presenting to the Assembly, Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,
“The Ireland in which the 8th Amendment was introduced was one where women were incarcerated in laundries for bearing children out of wedlock, where contraceptives could only be dispensed by a pharmacist on the presentation of a valid medical prescription. It was a country in which divorce and homosexuality were illegal, but marital rape was not. The 8th Amendment reflects a time when we didn’t trust women to make choices about their own lives. It has to be removed.”

Orla O’Connor continued,
“We have heard the experiences of women who were forced to travel for abortions, and the trauma they can endure. There are so many reasons why a woman will decide to have an abortion. She may be middle aged, parenting alone and struggling to make ends meet; or be an older married mother, unwilling or unable to go through a high risk pregnancy. She may be a young woman starting college, or a woman in direct provision awaiting her asylum status. Women’s lives do not fit neatly into boxes; we must remove the 8th amendment from the Consitution and legislate so that women will have access to high-quality healthcare that puts their wellbeing front and centre and provides the care and support they need.”

Orla O’Connor concluded,
“It is with an on request model in early pregnancy that you can ensure women in the most vulnerable situations, including victims of rape and incest, can make their health care decisions in dignity and in safety. We must also consider the needs of women who want to continue with pregnancy but have received a diagnosis that indicates that they or the child will not survive the pregnancy. Many countries do not impose any gestational limits in either situation of risk to life or to health. NWCI recommend an on request model, with later term abortions on grounds of risk to health and fatal foetal abnormality.”

“Providing for early medical abortion on request in Ireland is a means of responding to the needs of women, removing the stigma, shame of the current system and removing cumbersome and unwieldy criminal sanctions against women and medical professionals. It would provide for access to abortion to women in particularly vulnerable positions in a manner that protects their dignity, privacy and bodily autonomy. Where a wanted pregnancy becomes a crisis pregnancy by becoming a risk to her health, or due to a diagnosis of fatal foetal anomaly, provisions should be made for later-term terminations. This is international best practice, and a legislative situation we believe would work for women in Ireland.”


For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications Officer, 085 8619087

Notes to the Editor:

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) is the leading national women’s membership organisation seeking equality between women and men, founded in 1973.

We represent our membership which includes 180 member groups as well as a wide range of individual members from a diversity of backgrounds, sectors and locations.