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Published: Friday, February 01, 2002

The Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Bill and Referendum

'There is unanimous opposition to the forthcoming referendum from the affiliates of the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI)' declared Ms. Gráinne Healy, Chairwoman of the NWCI. Ms. Healy was speaking after a meeting in Dublin today, at the end of an NWCI consultation process on the Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Bill and Referendum.

'The view of the meeting was that the proposed bill and referendum are an attack on the lives, health and welfare of women' stated Ms. Healy. 'There was overwhelming alarm among NWCI members, that under the referendum proposals the threat of suicide for a woman with a crisis pregnancy will no longer be grounds for termination' she declared. 'The X case will be overruled' she added.

'Deep concern was raised about the fact that permitted forms of medical treatment on women with crisis pregnancies will only be allowed in approved places designated by the Minister' said Ms. Healy. 'If the Minister does not designate any approved place in a particular locality, or designates an insufficient number of approved places, the right to life of a pregnant woman in a life-threatening situation may be at risk if she cannot reach an approved place in time' she added.
'If the proposed new legislation is passed and the threat of suicide is ruled out as a ground on which abortion may lawfully be performed in Ireland, then the basis for the C case decision is removed. This means that a young girl or woman in C's position would not in the future be able to get state authorisation or permission to travel abroad' asserted Ms. Healy. 'Further C case scenarios are likely to arise for any women who needs state permission or assistance to travel abroad, such as asylum seekers, prisoners, wards of court or children in care' she continued.
'The public is urgently in need of comprehensive information about the issues to be put before them in the referendum' said Ms. Healy. 'The NWCI will embark on an information campaign and a nation-wide appeal for a NO vote on 6 March' she added.

'There were many other issues of concern raised at the NWCI meeting today, which will be outlined during our campaign for a no vote' declared Ms. Healy. 'One very strong message that came from our meeting today is that we never again want to see a girl or woman before the High Court with a crisis pregnancy' she concluded.