Thousands Take to Streets in Dublin as Ireland’s Abortion Debate Heats Up Again

Posted in politics on September 28th, 2015 by monika, September 26, 2015  by Sally Hayden

Amnesty Ireland @AmnestyIreland

Amnesty Ireland @AmnestyIreland

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Dublin today in a demonstration against the country’s restrictive abortion law, which criminalizes terminations — even in cases involving rape, incest, or fatal fetal abnormality.

The “March for Choice” followed a route through the city center of the Irish capital, and saw many women and men pulling suitcases behind them, a gesture meant to symbolize the estimated 10 to 12 women who travel to the UK each day for abortions.

The marchers called for the repeal of the Irish Constitution’s eighth amendment — introduced in 1983 — which says that an unborn child’s right to life is equal to that of its mother.
In recent weeks, high-profile Irish women, including Irish Times columnist Roisin Ingle and comedian Tara Flynn, have gone public about their abortions, provoking debate across the country and ensuring that the issue will remain a heated topic of discussion in the run up to next year’s general election.

“Having a baby that first time would not have been best for me,” Ingle wrote. “I have not had one scrap of regret or shame about what I did.”
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Hundreds of Irish women travel to Netherlands for abortions

Posted in politics on September 23rd, 2015 by monika, Sept 16, 2015   by Kitty Holland

Suitcases signifying the Irish women who travel abroad to access abortion services, outside the Department of the Taoiseach. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Suitcases signifying the Irish women who travel abroad to access abortion services, outside the Department of the Taoiseach. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Almost 1,500 women travelled from Ireland to the Netherlands over a seven year-period to have abortions.
The figures, gathered from the 17 abortion clinics in the Netherlands and verified by the HSE’s Crisis Pregnancy Programme, show 1,497 women gave Irish addresses at Dutch abortion clinics between 2006 and 2013.

Figures for 2014 and this year were not available.
Irish crisis pregnancy counselling services have been offering information on Dutch and British abortion clinics since 2005.
Dutch clinics have a reputation for providing a sensitive service and being cheaper than some clinics in Britain.
However, the number of women giving Irish addresses in Dutch clinics has declined sharply in recent years.
While 461 women are recorded as travelling from Ireland to have an abortion in the Netherlands in 2006, this had fallen to 12 in 2013.
The numbers fell to 351 in 2008, to 134 in 2009 and to 31 in 2010.
Some 34,602 women and girls gave Irish addresses at abortion clinics in England and Wales over the past nine years, according to data from the UK Office of National Statistics.
The numbers registering Irish addresses there fell consistently in these years, from 5,042 in 2006 to 3,679 in 2013.
However, the numbers rose last year, when 3,735 women gave Irish addresses in Britain.
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Róisín Ingle: Why I need to tell my abortion story

Posted in politics on September 14th, 2015 by monika, Sep 12, 2015

‘I can’t speak for anyone else. But for me. This was the right thing to do’– Róisín Ingle, in an extract from her new book, writes about her abortion.
Róisín Ingle opens up about her abortion: ‘I am not a bad person, I am not a murderer’
The Irish Times columnist said now is the time for her to share her experience with the world.

Photograph: Marc O'Sullivan

Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

If people say one thing and ask one question about the personal column I’ve been writing in these pages for nearly 15 years it is this: “You are so honest but is there anything you would never write about?”
When they ask me, I tell them the truth. Of course there is. There are Somethings I wouldn’t write about. Plenty of Things. Numerous and various Experiences. But it’s the same one Experience that always comes to my mind when anyone asks that question. And instead of being honest about the Experience, I tell them “I have my secrets” and flash what I hope is an enigmatic smile. In terms of shutting down this particular line of enquiry, I’ve found it works a treat.
Many times over the years I’ve stopped myself writing about this Experience. And every time I’ve asked myself why. Was I ashamed of it? No. Was I embarrassed? Not at all. Did I feel I’d done something wrong? Quite the opposite. What I had done was the right decision for me.

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Abortion is a healthcare issue, not about politics or religion

Posted in politics on September 14th, 2015 by monika, 14 September 2015 by Claire McNeilly

Speaking out: Grainne Teggart, Campaign Manager for Amnesty International, says she is proud of the work her organisation is doing in Northern Ireland


Grainne Teggart, Campaign Manager for Amnesty International

Claire McNeilly talks to the Amnesty International’s Campaign Manager about attitudes to same sex-marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland.

Q. Many people here believe abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or foetal abnormality; why do you think it’s been so difficult to get the law changed to bring it into line with the rest of the UK?

A. Mainly it has been political obstruction, because traditionally in Northern Ireland it had been perceived and presented as such a black and white issue. People didn’t understand that there was a spectrum there; it’s not about there being good or bad abortions, it’s not as clear cut when you have, for example, a minor where there’s familial rape and that child is pregnant. Or if a woman has a wanted pregnancy and is given a fatal foetal diagnosis.

Q. But the DUP say there’s not a lot of political support for a change. What’s your opinion on that?

A. I disagree with the DUP. There is political support there, but it’s a difficult issue. There’s a split within certain parties about the best way to address this. We’ve seen, for example, the DoJ (Department of Justice) consulted and a draft paper put to the Executive in June this year and that, so far, has been blocked.

Q. And what if that doesn’t get through the Executive?

A. Then a Bill can’t get into the Assembly. That is why we’ve had to go through the courts, because if our politicians can’t properly deal with these difficult issues then we have to take the legal route. That said, I haven’t given up hope on the Assembly, because public opinion is changing and the politicians will have to reflect that.

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New poll finds two-thirds majority in Ireland want abortion decriminalised

Posted in politics on July 19th, 2015 by monika, 8.7.2015

211858_Lupe_-_MBMR_edit“45% are in favour of allowing all women access to abortion in Ireland as they choose.”
The Irish Government is under growing pressure to reform its anti-abortion law, one of the most restrictive in the world, Amnesty International said today as it published results of an opinion poll on public attitudes to abortion in Ireland.
The poll, carried out for Amnesty International by RED C Research and Marketing, shows that the majority of people in Ireland are not aware that abortion is a criminal offence. The vast majority disagree with the current criminal sanctions for women who have abortions – or doctors who provide abortions.
Asked whether the Irish Government should decriminalise abortion, 67% agreed and 25% disagreed. 81% are in favour of significantly widening the grounds for legal abortion access in Ireland.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said:
“It is clear that Irish views on abortion have undergone a major transformation. People in Ireland are now, on the whole, more understanding of the situations women find themselves in and firmly believe that women should not be criminalised for having an abortion.
“Only a third of Irish people polled were aware that it is a criminal offence for a woman to access abortion here unless her life is at risk. Even with the long debate over Ireland’s 2013 abortion law, less than one in 10 were aware that a woman who has an abortion could face a 14-year prison sentence.
“This poll demonstrates that on the issue of abortion Ireland’s people are clearly way ahead of their government leaders. The conversation we urgently need in Ireland on abortion is a challenging one, but it must happen.  The Irish Government should put this issue to the people as a matter of priority. Decriminalising abortion is not only a human rights obligation – it is what people in Ireland want. And this means repealing the 8th Amendment.”.
People aged 65 or over were the least aware that abortion is a criminal offence (82%). Those aged over 55 disagreed most with the possible 14 year jail term for women. Colm O’Gorman said: “This age group tends to be the least in favour of widening access to abortion, but clearly they have even greater awareness of the brutality of this penalty.”
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Irish abortion survey finds majority of people support decriminalisation

Posted in politics on July 8th, 2015 by monika

Amnesty poll reveals shift in attitudes with 65% saying they want abortion decriminalised and 81% favouring some liberalisation of legislation, Wednesday 8 July 2015 by Henry McDonald

Pro-choice supporters hold placards in front of the gates of the Irish parliament during a demonstration against anti-abortion laws. Photograph: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images

Pro-choice supporters hold placards in front of the gates of the Irish parliament during a demonstration against anti-abortion laws. Photograph: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images

Two-thirds of Irish people want abortion decriminalised, according to a survey that signals a major shift in views on a woman’s right to choose in a country that still outlaws most terminations.

Eight out of 10 people polled for Amnesty International favoured some liberalisation of the law, and 65% said abortion should be decriminalised.
Two years ago, Ireland’s parliament, the Dáil, passed legislation allowing for abortion in extremely limited cases of medical emergencies or when there is risk of suicide if pregnancy goes to full term. Under the law, doctors and medical professionals have the right ultimately to determine if a woman’s life is at risk in these circumstances.
Abortion remains unavailable, for instance, to Irish women who are raped or whose pregnancies are doomed as a result of foetal abnormalities.

The findings of the poll, based on 1,000 telephone interviews in May, demonstrate a widespread lack of knowledge about the legal risk of carrying out abortions in Ireland.
Sixty-four per cent of those surveyed did not know that it is a crime to get an abortion in Ireland when a woman’s life is not at risk. Only 9% knew that having an unlawful abortion can lead to up to 14 years in jail.

Seventy-one per cent agreed that classifying abortion as a crime “contributes to the distress and stigma felt by women who have had abortions” and 45% supported a woman’s right to choose for non-medical reasons.
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How long can Northern Ireland’s draconian abortion laws survive?

Posted in politics on July 1st, 2015 by monika

The 1967 Abortion Act was never extended to Northern Ireland, and women there still have to make the expensive and difficult journey to England to access this basic right., 30 June, 2015 by June Eric-Udorie

An anti-abortion demonstration in Belfast in 2012. Photo: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images

An anti-abortion demonstration in Belfast in 2012. Photo: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images

In Belfast, a mother is being prosecuted for giving her daughter abortion pills to induce a miscarriage, pills which are illegal under abortion laws in Northern Ireland. As a result, over 200 women in Northern Ireland have signed an open letter from the campaign group Alliance for Choice to the Public Prosecution Service asking them to “arrest” them for using or providing illegal abortion pills. Over 200 women who are fed up with their bodily autonomy being toyed with, controlled and owned by male dominated governments.
As a recent Amnesty report put it, the laws in Northern Ireland are “draconian” and women there are being treated like “child-bearing vessels”. Fionnghuala Nic Roibeaird lives in Northern Ireland and signed the Alliance for Choice petition. When I spoke to her, she said: “Whether you want to call us vessels or incubators, that’s how we’re seen in the eyes of the state. The problem is that it’s such a controversial topic that the state don’t want to touch. Everyone knows the pills are coming in. It’s all over the internet. There are Facebook pages regularly sharing information telling women if they need an abortion, where they can get it and if they’re past the mark to go to the Abortion Support Network if they can’t afford to travel.” Access to abortion as Emma Campbell, the Vice-chair of Alliance of Choice said, is very much to do with class: “You can get an abortion if you have money, a credit card and the ability to travel. If not, you don’t really have a choice because abortions are only allowed in limited circumstances.”
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We’ve broken the law – prosecute us, over 200 abortion activists challenge police

Posted in politics on June 25th, 2015 by monika, 24 June 2015, by Sam McBride

Laganside Courts at Chichester Street, Belfast

Laganside Courts at Chichester Street, Belfast

More than 200 abortion activists have issued an extraordinary challenge to the justice system by declaring that they have broken the criminal law on assisting an abortion in Northern Ireland.
The 215 named individuals, the overwhelming number of whom are women, said they were “inviting prosecution” about would begin to hand themselves in at police stations in response to an exceptionally rare court case which began last week in Belfast.

On Friday, a woman in her 30s went on trial at Belfast’s Magistrates’ Court on two charges of unlawfully procuring drugs used to end a pregnancy.
She cannot be named for legal reasons, in order to protect her daughter’s identity.
The court was told that the alleged offences of procuring a poison or other noxious substance knowing that ti was to be used with the intention of securing a miscarriage occurred in 2013.
The court was told by a prosecution lawyer said the case involved the alleged injured party’s mother. The judge confirmed that the defendant was being returned for trial at Belfast Crown Court.

Now a group of activists have used the case to issue a challenge which has the potential to decide whether widespread access to abortion is, at least in a de facto sense, legal in Northern Ireland.

Each of the individuals who have signed the open letter released to the media have admitted a criminal offence which in Northern Ireland carries a sentence of up to five years.
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Belfast woman will go on trial for helping her daughter to have a medical abortion

Posted in politics on June 22nd, 2015 by monika

A Belfast woman is to stand trial accused of supplying poison for her daughter to have a miscarriage., 19 June 2015, by Alan Erwin

The abortion drug Mifepristone

The abortion drug Mifepristone

The defendant, aged in her thirties, appeared before the city’s Magistrates’ Court today to face two charges of unlawfully procuring a medical abortion medicine known for its use in terminating pregnancies.
She cannot be named to ensure her daughter’s identity is not revealed.
The alleged offences were said to have occurred at a location in Belfast on dates in 2013.
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Case seeks to legalise abortion in cases of rape, incest and “serious malformation”

Posted in politics on June 17th, 2015 by monika

Ireland, San Marino, Malta and Andorra only European countries that prohibit abortion in these circumstances, Jun 16, 2015, by Gerry Moriarty

Sarah Ewart arrives at court as a judicial review into Northern Ireland’s abortion laws begins in the High Court in Belfast. Photograph: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Sarah Ewart arrives at court as a judicial review into Northern Ireland’s abortion laws begins in the High Court in Belfast. Photograph: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Northern Ireland’s abortion legislation contravenes article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights which states that no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Belfast High Court has been told.
Nathalie Lieven QC made the comment in front of Mr Justice Mark Horner, who is hearing a case where the North’s Human Rights Commission is seeking to make abortion legal in instances of rape, incest and “serious malformation of the foetus”.
The court also heard yesterday that all countries in Europe apart from Ireland North and South, San Marino, Malta and Andorra allow abortion in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality.
Ms Lieven, for the commission, said the issue of abortion in relation to these categories could not be left to the Northern Executive on the basis that it might act to legislate at some undefined date in the future.
The case is expected to last three or four days. Mr Justice Horner is hearing submissions from campaigners representing both sides of the abortion argument with the North’s Attorney General, John Larkin QC, also expected to make an oral submission.
Abortion is currently legal in Northern Ireland where there is a threat to the life of the woman or where there is a risk of a serious and adverse effect on her physical or mental health which is either long term or permanent.
Following a consultation, the North’s Department of Justice has recommended that abortion be permitted in Northern Ireland in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, but this proposed change does not apply to cases of rape and incest.
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