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Everyone who needs an abortion must be able to access it: NWC

Published: Monday, October 16, 2023

The National Women’s Council says barriers such as the 3-day wait; criminalisation; geographical gaps; and the 12-week limit must be removed

Ahead of a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Health Committee examining the abortion review, the National Women’s Council has said no woman should be forced to travel abroad for abortion. The Committee is due to hear testimony from the author of the abortion review, Marie O’Shea, alongside Dr Catherine Conlon and Dr Deirdre Duffy.

NWC Head of Development and Policy, Kate Mitchell said:

“In 2018, people voted to provide compassionate care for women at home. The O’Shea review clearly shows that serious gaps still remain in the provision of timely and effective abortion care. Women and pregnant people in heartbreaking circumstances are still being forced to travel – at least 860 travelled to the UK alone since the vote.”

The O’Shea Review made recommendations to increase geographical coverage, to make the three-day wait optional, to review arbitrary restrictions on care in cases of fatal foetal anomaly, and to decriminalise the procedure after 12 weeks. Abortion currently carries a 14-year jail sentence if carried out outside narrow criteria post-12 weeks. Critically, the report also highlights the need to appropriately resource medical professionals, including GPs, to provide abortion care – identifying lack of capacity as a key factor in service provision.

Poushali Kundu, NWC’s Women’s Health Officer, said:

“The 3-day wait is deeply patronising, and unique to abortion. Women have given a lot of thought to their situation by the time they get to their doctor. We also know that women in many rural areas do not have the same access to abortion as their urban counterparts, and this cannot continue.

And we cannot continue to abandon women after the arbitrary 12-week mark. Many women make devastating decisions not to continue a pregnancy after a diagnosis of a life-limiting condition, or a change in their own life circumstances. They need care at home."

NWC will attend the Committee meeting. We will continue to campaign for changes to be implemented quickly, so that women can access the reproductive healthcare they need at home.


For comment: Kate Mitchell and Poushali Kundu  

Find here the Abortion Working Group’s submission to the review: https://www.nwci.ie/discover/what_we_do/abortionaccess/abortion_working_group_joint_submission_to_the_abortion_review

For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan, NWC Communications and Social Media Coordinator, 085 8619087 or sineadn@nwci.ie


What: Oireachtas Health Committee examines O’Shea Report

When: 18 October, 9:30am

Where: Leinster House