The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has called for “robustness and rigour” in the review of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018, following the appointment of Ms Marie O’Shea B.L. as its independent Chair.
Mr Niall Behan Chief Executive of the 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, 3-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 B.L to ensure that the review is rigorous and rights based.”
The National Women’s Council (NWC) has welcomed the appointment of the independent Chair.
Ms Orla O’Connor, Director of NWC said: “We welcome the appointment of an Independent Chair, and it is positive that the appointment process has been followed rather than the complex and protracted process of a public tender. Independent oversight of the review process will be crucially important. It is vital now that we see progress, as delays in undertaking this legally mandated review mean that women and pregnant people continue to have to travel for vital healthcare or take pills online without appropriate support or aftercare.”
“For the review to run smoothly, we need clear timelines – the report of the Chair must be submitted in September and amendments to the Health (Terminations of Pregnancy Act) should be considered for the Autumn legislative programme. It is almost a year since the review was first announced, it is time for a clear and strict schedule – there is no time to delay.”
Ms O’Connor concluded: “In Ireland, access to abortion is not equal. Many women still face systemic barriers to this fundamental healthcare. Our health system is not delivering what women need: equitable access to abortion. Therefore, it is so important that the voices and experiences of women are at the centre of the review process. It is they who are best placed to make decisions regarding their health, with the advice and support of their doctor. We look forward to working with the new independent Chair, Marie O’Shea to ensure that lived experience of abortion care is at the centre of this Review process.”