This letter first appeared in The Kerryman on the 5th July 2017
Kerry for Choice cautiously welcomes the Citizens’ Assembly report on the Eighth Amendment and calls on the Joint Oireachtas Committee to respect the Assembly’s recommendations.
We are pleased with the Assembly’s recommendation that the termination of pregnancy without restriction should be lawful. We also welcome, with caveats, that the recommendations for legislation allowing full abortion access for the first 12 or 22 weeks of pregnancy respectively have been upheld in the report. Kerry for Choice believes in trusting women, along with their doctors, to make the medical decisions they need.
It is incumbent on the Joint Oireachtas Committee to respect the Assembly’s recommendations. Abortion is a healthcare issue, not a constitutional one. It is vital that all reproductive health needs are met, including access to abortion in Ireland. The Oireachtas Committee must keep this to the forefront of their work over the coming months.
The publication of the Assembly’s report came on the same day that Department of Health figures showed 25 abortions were carried out under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act (PLDPA) in 2016.
Of the 25 abortions accessed under the PLDPA in 2016, one occurred due to the risk of suicide, eight took place due to risk to the pregnant person’s health while the remainder were performed in the context of emergency healthcare where the pregnant person’s life was at risk.
A constitutional ban that continues to see over 3,000 people travel abroad every year to access the abortions they need is unworkable and flawed. It is time for the Government to act. It is repeal the Eighth Amendment and legislate for free, safe and legal abortion in Ireland.