Labour calls on Government to publish details of abortion legislation review
15 March 2021
Spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
As reports continue that women and pregnant people are still travelling abroad for abortion and healthcare services, Senator Annie Hoey has called on Government to publish the terms of reference of its review of the operation of the legislation. Senator Hoey also called on Government to review the inequalities in the treatment of pregnant people, as those who can afford private scans can have partners present.
Senator Hoey said:
“Repealing the Eighth Amendment in May 2018 was a historic moment in Irish history. It is nearly three years since the monumental referendum, and yet the Government has not provided clarity on the expected timelines of its review into the operation of the legislation, nor have the terms of reference been made public. We in Labour would welcome any opportunity to examine what’s worked well and what can be improved, and to be involved in this process. A key tenet of this must be the fact that there are still women and pregnant people travelling for abortion and healthcare services.
“Despite changing the law to end this exact practice, we know that people are having to travel for proper abortion and healthcare services. This includes people who are travelling before 12 weeks, and so should be able to receive healthcare here in Ireland, but for some reason they’re not. This could be due to the fact that there aren’t abortion services in every country, and in rural parts of the country the service is much more sparse, which is something the Government must address.
“Safe access zones remains a huge issue that must be dealt with in any review of the legislation. Only last week, on International Women’s Day, there was a protest outside Holles Street Maternity Hospital which is really difficult and upsetting for those attending the maternity hospital for a variety of reasons. People coming and going into hospital should not be subjected to protestors. We must implement Exclusion Zones so that people have access to abortion services safely and with dignity.
“The Government has seen women’s healthcare as a second rate issue throughout the course of this pandemic, and it must address the fact that women are still having to give birth alone. The inequality of experience for pregnant people during Covid is wrong. During the most exciting time in family’s lives, many people are attending appointments and scans alone, while those who can afford private healthcare can have partners in the room for scans. Those who can’t afford it must attend scans unaccompanied and unsupported. In 2021 it shouldn’t be the case that the Government is allowing this inequality to exist. If you can pay to be with your partner you can be there with them at one of the most important times in a person’s life, if you can’t pay, tough. No one should be deprived of this special time.
“Public health must be the priority in everything that we do, but the overall wellbeing of pregnant people must be taken into account. We need to take a practical approach to reproductive health and ensure that health and wellbeing is prioritised.”