Family planning body demands ‘robust and rigorous’ review of abortion laws

Barrister Marie O’Shea has been appointed as the independent chair of the review of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018.
Family planning body demands ‘robust and rigorous’ review of abortion laws

By Cate McCurry, PA

The Irish Family Planning Association has called for “robustness and rigour” in a review of the State’s abortion laws.

It comes as the Government confirmed it has appointed barrister Marie O’Shea as the independent chair of the review of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018.

Ms O’Shea was appointed by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

The review will look at the impact, operation, and effectiveness of the legislation, as well as the delivery of services.

 

A public consultation is currently taking place and will hear from organisations, advocacy groups and members of the public about the operation of the law.

Niall Behan, chief executive of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), said: “The 2018 Act has been transformative for reproductive healthcare in Ireland, but flaws in the law continue to undermine abortion access for many women.

“It is critically important for women that these failings are addressed and that the review makes robust recommendations to the Government for reforms to the abortion law to ensure access to this essential healthcare for all who need it.

“We know as an abortion care provider that restrictions such as the 12-week limit, three-day waiting period and restrictive definition of foetal anomaly in the Act create unacceptable barriers to necessary healthcare.

“These restrictions are compounded by the chilling effect of criminalisation and the lack of hospital and GP provider coverage in some counties.

“The review is an opportunity to make reforms to Ireland’s abortion law so that it fully supports reproductive autonomy.

“The IFPA looks forward to working with the newly appointed chair of the abortion review Marie O’Shea to ensure that the review is rigorous and rights-based.”

Ireland abortion laws
People celebrate the vote to repeal the effective ban on abortions in Ireland in 2018 (Brian Lawless/PA)

The 2018 Act was signed into law on December 20th, 2018.

The current law allows for terminations to be carried out without restriction up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Mr Donnelly said: “Independent research commissioned to inform the service user and service provider strands will form key elements of the review.

“The findings of the research, as well as the results of the public consultation, will all be taken into account by the chair in assessing the extent to which the objectives of the Act have been achieved.

“The chair will also draw on the findings of other relevant peer-reviewed research and consult further with stakeholders as necessary.”

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