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National Women’s Council asks Health Minister for timeline on abortion reform

Published: Wednesday, November 09, 2022

The National Women’s Council has written to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly urging him to publish Marie O’Shea’s review of the abortion legislation by the end of November. In the letter, NWC commends the Minister for reforms to women’s reproductive health, such as the free contraception scheme and publicly-funded IVF and calls on the Minister to continue to bring reform to our abortion services so that all women and pregnant people can access abortion care.


NWC Women’s Health Coordinator Alana Ryan said:


“With the Taoiseach handover almost upon us, it’s vital that Minister Donnelly – who has been progressive on women’s health – seizes this opportunity to publish the review so that reform can begin immediately. Not only do Dáil records indicate that the report should be published in late 2022, but there is a legal obligation to do so stemming from the legislation implemented after the historic vote to repeal the 8th.”


The first strand of the abortion review was Dr Catherine Conlon’s Unplanned Pregnancy and Abortion Care (UNPAC) Study. Dr Conlon highlighted the criminalisation of service providers, failed medical abortion, the 28-day clause for fatal foetal mortalities, and the 3-day wait as issues which must be considered in the ongoing review. Acting on these barriers to access will require legislative reform.

At least 775 women have travelled for abortion since 2019, and half of those numbers are due to fatal foetal anomaly. Ms Ryan continued:


“The 28-day clause requires that two medical doctors certify that the foetus will not survive longer than 28 days after birth. It is extremely difficult for any doctor to predict this with accuracy, and on top of this they face criminal liability for carrying out an abortion after the 12-week limit. These restrictions tie the hands of medical professionals, leaving women and pregnant people without a voice or support as they face this dreadful diagnosis.”

In the letter, NWC describes the abortion review as a “precious opportunity to raise quality standards and deliver measurably better and safer healthcare”.



Find a full copy of the letter: https://www.nwci.ie/images/uploads/NWC_Letter_Min_Health_Abortion_Review.pdf

Find NWC’s latest report on reproductive rights in Ireland: https://www.nwci.ie/images/uploads/15880_NWC_Every_Woman_Report_FINAL.pdf

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

About NWC

The National Women’s Council 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. Find out more on www.nwci.ie