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The repeal referendum has changed Ireland, NWCI event hears

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018

The repeal referendum has changed Ireland, NWCI’s ‘Women Making History’ event, opened by the Minister for Health Simon Harris, heard this morning. 

The resounding yes vote by over 1.4million people shows that people in Ireland want women-centred abortion services. It is important now to speedily progress women centred abortion legislation so that women are no longer forced to travel abroad.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,

“The repeal referendum has changed Ireland. This was a campaign run by women across the country, led by women, for women. A remarkable mobilisation for women’s health and equality on the ground and online, translated into a landslide win in the ballot box that no one predicted.”

“The Irish electorate has once again looked past fake news, and overwhelmingly demonstrated support for equality. They listened to the voices and experiences of women at the centre of Together for Yes, and voted for change. There is a whole generation of new activists looking for the next campaign, daring to dream in greater equality and further change. Following on from the referendum, women centred abortion legislation must be our priority.”

Orla O’Connor continued,

“As discussion now focuses on the legislation, there are important factors in ensuring women have timely access to the care they need.

“Cost cannot prevent a woman from accessing abortion. Services should be publicly-funded and available through our public health system, with appropriate funding. Recent reports of possible costs to women for the service (up to €300) are prohibitive and would likely mean continued use of medication ordered online.”

“The legislation must include a provision to guarantee entitlement to timely access to services, and to ensure that women who seek abortion are not subject to discrimination on any grounds. This will require explicit guidance on how to ensure timely access for disadvantaged women, including migrant women, women experiencing intimate partner violence and women with disabilities.”

“It is important to restate that conscientious objection must respect the rights of the pregnant woman, and protect them from judgement from medical providers with objections. This means that there must be a referral system that comes under the guarantee of access, to ensure that a woman gets a safe and timely service and also that objections cannot apply to institutions.”

With regards to exclusion zones, Orla O’Connor said,

“A major and distressing feature of the recent campaign was the graphic images prominently displayed outside maternity hospitals and this has continued post referendum. We need to be clear that women and their healthcare providers should not have to walk past anti-abortion campaigners waving placards with graphic imagery and handing out leaflets with fake or misleading medical information. Exclusion zones outside maternity hospitals and primary care centres are necessary to prevent protesters harassing women. This is a proportionate action to protect the privacy and dignity of women accessing healthcare.”

Orla O’Connor concluded,

“Other elements of reproductive healthcare now need to be progressed – free contraception, maternity care, sexual health education that is representative of real life and age appropriate.”

Ends /

For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications Officer, 085 8619087