Column: Why shouldn’t there be ‘abortion on demand’?
The Government is desperate to avoid “abortion on demand”, writes Sarah McCarthy – but in reality, women should be trusted to make the choice.
OVER TWENTY YEARS on from the X Case Ruling, the Oireachtas is currently holding a hearing on the introduction of life-saving abortion in Ireland. While this is a welcome step in the right direction, it is woefully overdue. It has long been time for the debate to move beyond this issue. We need to face up to the reality of abortion in this country, and we need to do so now.
First of all, let’s get one thing straight; Ireland’s laws against abortion do not prevent Irish abortion. Every year, over 5,000 women travel from this island to obtain the procedure in other countries, and many more order abortion pills online. This is a typical abortion rate, close to that of Britain. Let me say it again – we have a typical abortion rate. In reality, all that our abortion laws serve to do is make it very difficult for certain types of women to access the procedure.
Consider the difficulty for a working-class woman to gather at short notice the €500 – €2,500 that the travel and procedure costs. Or pause to imagine the situation for an asylum-seeking woman who faces an unwanted pregnancy in Ireland. She cannot leave the country, to do so would place her in huge danger. Yet raising another child in the system of direct provision is an incredibly difficult task. Think of the woman whose abusive spouse won’t let her out of his sight for a few hours, let alone overnight. For women who can afford it, the trip to England is an unfair inconvenience. For those who can’t, our laws have severe and irreparable consequences. These are the true results of the 8th Amendment to our Constitution, not a haven for foetal rights.
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