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Legal barriers must be addressed in abortion review

Published: Tuesday, July 12, 2022

The National Women’s Council (NWC) today (12 July 2022) strongly welcomed the publication of the Unplanned Pregnancy Support and Abortion Care (UnPAC) Study which will form an integral part of the ongoing review of the operation of the (Termination of Pregnancy) Health Act.

Responding to the publication of the report, Alana Ryan, NWC’s Women’s Health Coordinator said,

“This report represents the most rigorous and robust analysis of women’s lived experience of accessing abortion in Ireland so far. While experiences are unique and varied, it is clear that significant systemic improvements are required. Women shared the anguish and distress of being deemed ineligible for care on the grounds of fatal foetal anomalies, the disempowering impact of the three-day wait and expressed their ‘shock’ at the lack of GPs providing in rural communities.

We are indebted to all participants for speaking so honestly about their experiences and to Dr Catherine Conlon and her team at Trinity College for treating their stories with such care and sensitivity. It is vital that the ongoing abortion review now acts on the findings – this is a unique and essential opportunity to bring our law and service in line with WHO guidelines and international human rights standards.”

She continued,

“The study recommends that the Abortion Review give particular consideration to the narrow qualifying criteria for access to care for fatal foetal anomalies and the chilling effect on healthcare providers of working within a criminal framework. We know that the combined impact of criminalisation and the strict 28 day rule within our legal framework means many Irish residents continue to have to travel to the UK for abortion care, with over 100 travelling in 2021 enduring the stress and trauma that this entails.”

She concluded,

“If this Review is to be fit for purpose, we must see a commitment to take forward evidence-led legislative reforms such as decriminalisation and review of the narrow grounds-based access to care post-12 weeks. Unless we tackle these legal barriers to access and enable abortion on request up to viability, women will continue to be forced abroad for healthcare they should receive at home.”


For more information, please contact Silke Paasche, Head of Communications, NWC, Tel. 085 858 9104.

Notes to Editor:         

1. The report can be accessed here: https://www.sexualwellbeing.ie/for-professionals/research/research-reports/unpac.pdf

Alana Ryan represented NWC on the Project Steering Committee for the Unplanned Pregnancy Support and Abortion Care Study

2. About NWC

The National Women’s Council (NWC) is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters. The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. More information is available on www.nwci.ie