Four years on since the Irish public voted to repeal the 8th Amendment, campaigners are calling for the Government to take urgent action to remove 'unnecessary barriers' to abortion care.
According to the Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) group, people are still being forced to travel abroad for abortion care.
Speaking about the issue, Darina Murray, ARC co-convener, said that while thousands of people have been able to access services within the State since 2019, the legislation is full of medically unnecessary barriers.
One of the issues highlighted by the ARC is a lack of local provision.
“There are gaps in abortion provision, which disproportionally affect people living in rural Ireland, disabled people, working-class people, migrants, and people living in direct provision,” Ms Murray explained.
“Our research shows that people need to travel for four to six hours for abortion care, particularly those living in rural areas.
“This is significantly longer than they usually travel for healthcare appointments.”
There is much unfinished business and if we are to ensure equitable and fair #abortionaccess we must:
- Decriminiliase abortion
- Remove the mandatory 3 day wait period
- Changes to fatal foetal anomoly legislation
- Improved data capture #UnfinishedBusiness #repeal @OrlaNWCI pic.twitter.com/45tTW5conM
— Womenscouncilireland (@NWCI) May 25, 2022
Campaigners have also been pushing for a change to the waiting period.
At present, there is a mandatory three-day waiting period between the first and second appointments.
“It is 2022, yet we still do not trust pregnant people to know what is best for them,” Ms Murray said.
“The three-day wait is nothing more than paternalistic nonsense, which the World Health Organisation states can jeopardise women’s ability to access safe, legal abortion services and demean women as competent decision-makers.”
The lack of safe access zone has also been a significant issue for people accessing services.
According to the ARC, nine out of the 19 maternity hospitals and maternity units still do not provide full abortion services, and only one in 10 GPs are abortion providers.
“This is a damning consequence of refusal of care, the chilling effect caused by the criminalisation of doctors who perform abortions outside the limited terms of the legislation, and the lack of safe access zones to prevent the harassment of people accessing medical services and healthcare providers,” Ms Murray said.
“When we said we wanted free, safe, legal, local and accessible abortions, the local part was not an added extra.
“Local access is vital to ensure that people can have the abortions they need when they need them.”
“Our restrictive legislation means that many people are still forced to leave the country for abortions.
“Since 2019 Abortion Support Network has funded 179 clients from Ireland, who were failed by our abortion law.
“This is not what people voted for in 2018.”