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Five years on from Repeal, women are still denied access to abortion in Ireland

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Five years on from Repeal, women are still denied access to abortion in Ireland

 NWC marks anniversary with launch of public campaign to demand political progress on abortion barriers
 For immediate release – Wednesday 24 May 2023

The National Women’s Council today called on members of the public to write to their local politicians and demand action on systemic barriers to abortion access. NWC have developed an e-action tool to make this a simple process for people, launched on their website today.  
Five years on from the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment, there is abundant evidence that significant legal barriers to abortion access remain, including: 

Criminalisation of abortion care after 12 weeks - health professionals can be prosecuted for providing abortion after this limit except in strict circumstances, meaning women in need - including in some cases of fatal foetal anomaly - are not cared for

Mandatory 3 day waiting period to access an abortion - this has no medical value and delays access to time-sensitive healthcare

Inconsistent provision of abortion services nationwide – 8 of 19 maternity hospitals are still not providing abortion care in line with the law
NWC today launched an e-action campaign to enable the public to write to their local politicians urging for cross-party political commitment to reform. The email campaign, which is available on the organisation’s website, is launched in the wake of the independent Abortion Review report from Marie O’Shea. 
Speaking upon the launch of the e-action, NWC Director Orla O’Connor said:
“Five years ago, the people of Ireland voted for compassionate reproductive healthcare at home. Government was given a clear mandate to provide access to abortion, particularly in the devastating scenarios of a fatal foetal anomaly. 
While many women have been able to access this care since 2019 and this is applauded, there are too many women and pregnant people who still don’t have access due to systemic barriers, particularly the most marginalised. Our restrictive  legal framework coupled with the postcode lottery of abortion services is unacceptable. 
Repealing the 8th didn’t mean abortion access only for some women and not others – the provision of abortion services needs to be consistent and equitable. That is why we’re launching this e-action so that the people of Ireland can remind their local politicians about their ongoing support for abortion care at home.” 

Our Women’s Health Coordinator, Alana Ryan said: 
“The publication of the independent Abortion Review was an important milestone, and now we need political follow through on evidence-led legislative reform. NWC believes the Health Committee has the necessary expertise to provide strategic guidance and direction to the wider Oireachtas on this crucial area of women’s healthcare, and must not shy away from this responsibility. 
Charting a route forward should be based on input from international experts such as the Centre for Reproductive Rights and WHO, who can contextualise Ireland’s law within the new 2022 World Health Organisation Abortion Care Guideline, as well as situate reform in the context of wider European developments. Both Spain and the Netherlands have recently removed barriers to bring their abortion laws more in line with the medical evidence and human rights norms. Ireland’s Review is over and we now need our politicians to embrace evidence-led legislative reform too.

ENDS/ For more information contact Vicky Masterson, NWC Communications and Digital Campaigns Officer, 087 1000385 or at vickyk@nwci.ie