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NWC strongly welcomes Oireachtas Health Committee proposals to change abortion law and practice

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Women are still travelling abroad for abortion care despite the repeal vote. So today the National Women’s Council (NWC) strongly welcomes media reports that the Oireachtas Health Committee is set to back the recommendations of Marie O’Shea’s review.

Chief among the recommendations of the independent review were decriminalisation of abortion after 12 weeks; the removal of the mandatory 3 day wait; and addressing geographical gaps in the provision of abortion care across the country.

NWC director Orla O’Connor said:

“We know that the criminalisation of abortion after 12 weeks makes medical decisions very complex. This has dreadful implications for pregnant people who receive a diagnosis of fatal foetal anomaly, who very often are told that they cannot be cared for in Ireland. In 2018, a significant cohort of people voted to support women in this position, and yet in 2023 this situation continues. It has to change.”

Since the 2018 vote, the World Health Organisation has published its guidelines for abortion care, with explicit guidelines that any barriers to care, such as mandatory waiting periods, gestational age limits and criminalisation should be removed.

NWC’s Women’s Health Coordinator Doireann Crosson said

“No other medical procedure is subject to a mandatory three-day wait. It's particularly problematic in Ireland given abortion is time-sensitive and the wait will cause many women to ‘time out’ of care at home. The mandatory three-day wait is paternalistic and robs women of autonomy and agency. It must go.”

NWC echoes the WHO guidelines on removing gestational age limits. The 12-week limit affects the most vulnerable people in our society, including migrant women who may not have the same access to healthcare, women in abusive relationships or who have been raped, and women living in parts of the country where there is a lack of accessible abortion providers.

It is important that women across Ireland are able to access the same level of care, no matter where they live. Abortion services are not currently provided in many of our communities, creating an inequality of access to care for pregnant people. NWC warmly welcomes the Oireachtas Committee backing of the recommendation to rectify this made by Marie O’Shea.


For comment: Orla O’Connor and Doireann Crosson

Find here the WHO guidelines on abortion: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240039483

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

This year we celebrate 50 years since our foundation with a special calendar of events and campaigns.

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