Vote Prochoice in Tipperary on February 8th!

Tipp For Choice asks you to continue to support prochoice candidates in the coming election.

It is little over a year since the introduction of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 to legalise abortion care in the Republic of Ireland. This came about as a result of voting to repeal the 8th amendment in May 2018. The legislation we have isn’t perfect but it’s a big step in the right direction towards caring for pregnant people in Ireland. Last year, we highlighted some of these imperfections in an open letter to the then Minister for Health, Simon Harris.

Sparse abortion care provision, “conscientious objection”, and the mandatory 3-day waiting period are still barriers faced by people in need of an abortion, particularly those in rural areas and continue to concern us in Tipp For Choice. The current legislation will be reviewed in 2021 under the next government. We hope work will be done to correct these gaps in the law. Bearing this in mind, it is still necessary to vote prochoice in the upcoming general election.

The Together for Yes campaign was overwhelmingly led and delivered by a cross-community collection of grassroots activists and ordinary citizens. However we would like to give credit to those candidates and parties in the current general election who collaborated with us and aided the work.

Of the thirteen candidates* seeking election in Tipperary, three actively helped Tipp For Choice in the Tipperary Together For Yes campaign. Seamus Healy TD (WUAG), Alan Kelly TD (Labour) and Mary Newman Julian (Fine Gael) canvassed for a Yes vote and supported events held by Tipperary Together for Yes in the run up to the vote. The campaign also received tremendous support from grassroots members of the Sinn Fein and the Green Party throughout the campaign. For that reason we are also happy to endorse their current candidates Martin Browne (SF) and Rob O’Donnell (Greens). Grassroots members from Labour and Fine Gael also volunteered with us. Additionally, Seamus Healy and Alan Kelly worked with Tipp for Choice after repeal to make positive contributions to the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 when it was being debated in the Dáil. People from other political backgrounds also worked with us towards repeal, but are not represented in the current general election.

Three Tipperary TDs who are seeking re-election – Jackie Cahill (Fianna Fail), Michael Lowry (Ind), and Mattie McGrath (Ind) – opposed repealing the 8th amendment and introducing legislation for free, safe and legal abortion access at every opportunity. All three voted against holding a referendum in the first place. During the legislation process, Mr Lowry and Mr McGrath tabled inhumane amendments to the abortion Bill such as mandatory ultrasounds and compulsory burial or cremation of fetal remains. Mr Cahill indicated his support for these barbaric proposals.

Of the remaining candidates, Joe Hannigan (Ind), Sandra Farrell, and Imelda Goldsboro (both Fianna Fáil), Garret Ahearn (Fine Gael) all failed to publicly take a stance on the issue of abortion care in Ireland. Dolores Cahill (Irish Freedom Party) is a member of a party well known for its antichoice views.

Almost 60% of people in Tipperary voted for compassion and to repeal the 8th Amendment. We need to ensure there are pro choice voices representing us in the next government so that abortion care in Ireland becomes fairer and more accessible to those who need it. If you supported repeal and want to see improvements to the accessibility and safety of pregnancy and abortion care, we ask you now to vote for candidates with a proven record on this issue. Together we repealed the 8th Amendment. Now let’s choose representatives who will continue to work for our hard-won rights. Vote prochoice on February 8th.

*This piece was written before the unexpected death of Thurles candidate Marese Skehan. We did not have an opportunity to work with Marese, but we recognise the immense work she did in the community to advance the cause of women and people on the margins. May she rest in power.

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Archiving the 8th: Tipperary edition

History is a capricious creature. It depends on who writes it.

Mikhail Gorbachev

Pro-choice groups all over Ireland have been archiving their members’ experiences and testimonies from the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment (see end of this post for links). We would like to do the same and ensure our voices and our histories don’t get lost. Rural experiences are not well included in official, Dublincentric campaign documents or in media reports. We don’t want the hard work and creative campaigning that was done in our county to be invisible to future generations. It was a grassroots campaign and we should share what we learned with the activists, feminists and historians of the future.

We want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. You can tell your story any way you like – a collection of photos, prose narrative, podcast, short story, video piece, poem, a piece of art. We aim to publish everything on this blog. We will not edit pieces unless there is a chance they defame someone! We may later put together a summary selection of the stories, but everything will be published on this blog first and will remain here to act as a permanent record of our campaign in Tipperary. If members agree, we will also share our collection with The National Library’s project to create a digital archive of stories and materials related to the repeal campaign (details below). We are also open to other creative ideas about using or publicising the archive once it has been established.

If you would like to have your story remembered or just want to share your photos, please send your submission to tippforchoice @ gmail . com with ‘Archive 8’ in the subject line.

Some of the Tipp Repealers gang outside The Green Sheep in Thurles on the day of the referendum count. We are all relieved and happy!
#TippRepealers

Some of our favourite resources from other groups’ experiences of repeal are linked here. Have a look through for ideas for sharing your own story.

In Her Shoes – stories that changed minds well before the referendum.

Our own twitter thread of thanks.

Together for Yurt podcast.

Dublin city gallery Savita Memorial Wall.

Artists Campaign to Repeal the 8th.

Archiving the 8th project led by Dr Emily Mark-Fitzgerald at the National Library.

All the things by Speaking of Imelda.

Kill Your Darlings article on ‘History in the Making’ about podcasts and repeal (with lots of links).

Irish Council for Civil Liberties short list of repeal activities.

Open Letter to Minister Simon Harris

16th February 2019

Dear Minister Harris,

We are an amalgamation of pro-choice groups, writing to you to express our fear and disappointment that some people are being left behind by the new abortion legislation.

Currently, rural abortion provision is sparse. Legislation has not been translated into action. Some counties have no GPs signed up to the service and other counties have limited provision, as many GPs only provide care to their current patients. People living in rural areas where public transport is limited are being forced to travel long distances to access care. Furthermore, it has become clear that those requiring hospital care are not being seen in their nearest hospital but are instead being referred to larger, city-based maternity units that are farther away. This is not what we marched for and it is not what we voted for. People deserve timely abortion care that reflects evidence-based clinical practice, where they live.

Having GP-led services was intended to ensure that people accessing healthcare would be seen close to home and in a non-stigmatised environment. A lack of safe access zones means that we have already seen protests outside the practices of conscientious providers, undoubtedly discouraging other doctors from signing up to provide abortion care. Safe access zones are an essential part of safe access to abortion.

Additionally, the mandatory three-day waiting period, necessitating two visits to an abortion provider, is a significant barrier for rural pregnant people who already have to travel long distances to access care. This waiting period has already been deemed medically unnecessary by doctors speaking before the Oireachtas Health Committee. It serves to discriminate against those who are forced to travel long distances to access abortion healthcare, whether that be from Northern Ireland or from rural areas. It’s also likely that the waiting period will push some people beyond the gestational time limit for accessing an abortion.

We have also heard the recent news that people in Northern Ireland will have to pay €450 for the privilege of having to travel twice. You spoke in the Dáil about the reasons why safe abortion care must be free. There is no reason why this should not apply to people from Northern Ireland accessing abortion services here in the Republic. We have always been an all-island campaign and this is not what you promised when you said that Northern Irish people would not be left behind. €450 will prove utterly prohibitive for many Northern Irish people seeking access to abortion care in the Republic and will ultimately result in people continuing to be forced onto flights and ordering abortion pills illegally online.

As Minister for Health, you have a duty of care towards the people of Northern Ireland, all of whom, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and Article 2 of Bunreacht na hÉireann, have the right to be seen as Irish citizens. To hinder access for people living in Northern Ireland shows a failure by the state to adhere to its legal and constitutional obligations towards all of its citizens.

We are also concerned about other marginalised and vulnerable groups being prevented from accessing abortion care. Multi-sectionalities can compound particular challenges and leave people open to vulnerabilities. Young people, trans and non-binary people, Travellers, migrants, people experiencing domestic abuse, people with disabilities and those living in rural areas face challenges ranging from access to transportation to communication with healthcare providers. Provisions that enable all people to access their rights, equitably, are essential.

The end goal of the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment was not to introduce abortion care for a select few. We call on you and the Department of Health to provide these services, for all people, as a matter of urgency.

Tipp for Choice
Mayo Pro-Choice
Kerry for Choice
Galway East for Choice
Abortion Rights Campaign Leitrim
Abortion Rights Campaign Offaly
Alliance for Choice Belfast
Pro Choice Laois
Dublin Abortion Rights Campaign
Sligo Abortion Rights Campaign
Kilkenny for Choice
Galway Pro-Choice
Carlow Choice and Equality Network
Cavan Pro-Choice
Wexford Pro-Choice
Abortion Rights Clare
Roscommon for Choice
Meath for Choice
Abortion Rights Campaign Donegal
Cork Together for Yes
Leixlip Together for Yes
Clane Together for Yes
North Kildare Pro-Choice
Kildare Coalition for Repeal
Repeal LK (Limerick)
Strabane Pro-Choice
Alliance for Choice Derry
West Cork Rebels for Choice
North Wicklow Together for Choice and Equality
Rise and Repeal Waterford
Waterford Together for Yes
Mid-Louth Together for Yes
London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign
South Kildare Pro- Choice
Dundalk For Change

National Union of Students – Union of Students in Ireland
Disabled People for Choice
Abortion Support Network
Lawyers for Choice
Fingal Feminist Network
Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union Executive 2018/19
Project Choice, Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union

Medical Students for Choice QUB
QUB Pro-Choice Society


Open letter to Mattie McGrath and Michael Lowry

Today, Deputies Mattie McGrath and Michael Lowry stated their support for proposed amendments to the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 which, if adopted, could cause real harm to all pregnant people in Tipperary and Ireland. Jackie Cahill also indicated he would support similar amendments in a recent letter to a constituent.

Mandatory ultrasounds, compulsory burial or cremation of fetal remains, and forcing doctors to prioritise the fetus above the pregnant person are inhumane provisions to include in future legislation.

We voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Please take time to contact Tipperary TDs today to ensure they know that we will accept nothing less than compassionate and evidence-based care. Feel free to use the template below.

img_5164.jpg

To: mattie.mcgrath@oireachtas.ie

michael.lowry@oireachtas.ie

jackie.cahill@oireachtas.ie

Dear Deputy,

I am a Tipperary constituent who voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment on May 25th. I am writing to express my concern at your support for amendments to the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 which seem to be designed solely to make abortion more difficult to access rather than for any concern for the well-being of pregnant people.

The first area of concern is your amendment that would make it a criminal offence for a woman to not arrange cremation or burial of fetal remains after an abortion. This proposal shows scant knowledge of the reality of miscarriage or abortion and is based on an inaccurate assumption that early abortion will result in remains to be buried. In most cases, what is passed during an early abortion is indistinguishable from the clots passed during a very heavy period. Under the current regime, women who miscarry at the same stage are not required to make such arrangements; indeed, it is impossible as remains often cannot be identified or salvaged. It is medically impossible to distinguish between an early miscarriage and an early abortion; are you comfortable that this measure risks criminalising those experiencing the loss of a wanted pregnancy?

Your proposed amendment to make it a legal requirement for a doctor to offer the pregnant person an ultrasound seems a deliberate barrier to access for Tipperary women. We have some of the poorest rates of access to scans during maternity care in the country. Dating scans are usually only available after 13 weeks on a first pregnancy and often not until 20 weeks – if at all – on subsequent pregnancies. It seems particularly cynical for you to only concern yourself with ultrasounds in order to prevent abortion rather than advocating for better maternity provisions for Tipperary women who wish to continue their pregnancies.

In terms of informed consent, doctors are already required to explain how medications or procedures work, their outcomes and their risks.

Your proposal to describe fetal pain to a family who are dealing with a diagnosis of fatal fetal abnormality or a risk to the woman’s life or health seems unnecessarily cruel. These are much wanted pregnancies. Forcing the health professional and the family to focus on fetal pain rather than maternal well-being in situations of grief or distress is inhumane.

If adopted as legislation, these measures have the potential to cause material harm and psychological and emotional distress to Tipperary women who need to terminate pregnancies. They could retraumatise survivors of rape, endanger those who require urgent care due to risk to life or health, and they could criminalise women experiencing early miscarriage.

As you are aware, Tipperary voted overwhelmingly to repeal the Eighth Amendment in a clear statement that the time for punishing and criminalising women for accessing basic healthcare has passed. Your support for these amendments indicates an indifference for the welfare of your constituents, as well as for the democratic process by which we voted for the provision of abortion care. People in need of abortions require timely, compassionate care and we will accept nothing less.

I am asking you, as one of my representatives, to protect the interests, the will, and the well-being of women living within your constituency, rather than continuing to advocate for inhumane practices.

Best regards.

___________________________

 

 

Why I’m Still Marching

Our member and campaigner Laura Buckley shares with us ahead of #ARCmarch18 why she’s still marching.

This Saturday, four months after the Irish people voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment, I will take part in the seventh annual March for Choice organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign. This will be my fourth time marching. Why? Didn’t we get what we wanted? Isn’t abortion now legal? Aren’t we as a country now okay with it? Why do we still need to march?

The answers to these questions are as follows: Yes, we repealed the Eighth but that didn’t make abortion legal overnight. Since the referendum, the women of this country have still had to travel abroad for abortions or illegally buy drugs online. I will be marching to hold this Government to the legislation it promised during the campaign and to ensure that every woman regardless of income, age or status can avail of the treatment they either need or want.

Furthermore, one third of the electorate weren’t happy with the result, are not okay with abortion in any circumstance and some people will use any mechanism to delay or dilute new laws from coming into effect. There have been court challenges to the outcome of the referendum, the arguments have been rehashed in the newspapers by columnists, people have contacted their TDs asking them to vote against any legislation and anti – choice groups plan to use the proposed three-day waiting period to “change” a woman’s mind about having an abortion.

Now of course, the first three of those points are all acceptable in a democracy however it does show that the poll was not the end of the matter – in fact in my view it was only the beginning. That why I’m still marching.

Repealed

#TippRepealers

Join us at #ARCmarch18!

It’s now 4 months since we overwhelmingly voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment, but for those in need of abortion access, nothing has changed. We have seen challenges to the referendum result knocked down in the courts and now are witnessing attempts by anti-choice groups to dilute the legislative proposals and delay the introduction of reproductive rights.

We had hoped that the Abortion Rights Campaign March of 2018 would be a celebration of our activism and a chance to show our communal relief that our rights are guaranteed. However it seems instead that we must also demonstrate that we will not tolerate the undermining of democracy. The results of the referendum stand. We will not allow our rights to be restricted by those who lost the campaign.

We demand free, safe, legal abortion access.

As rural campaigners, we demand access to compliant GPs and health services on an equal basis as those who live in cities.

We cannot allow conscientious objection or mandatory waiting periods to compromise our well-being or our rights.

We call on all those who supported repeal to now add your voices to our call for urgent legislation which will give us access to abortion services that are free, safe, legal, and local.

Join us on Saturday 29th in Dublin at the ARC March. We are running a free return bus with pick-ups in Clonmel, Tipp Town (provisional), Cashel, Thurles, Nenagh and Cloughjordan. If you are a member, see the email you received last week. Otherwise email tippforchoice@gmail . com to book your place.

Hope to see you there!

March for Choice

We #repealedthe8th!

On 25th May 2018, a majority of Tipperary voters came out and voted yes to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, opening the way to the introduction of legislation to allow for abortion.

Across the length and breadth of Tipperary, ordinary people joined our cause, recognising the horrors created by a ban on abortion. The launch of Tipperary Together for Yes saw our ranks swell. Our campaigners are nurses, doctors, builders, teachers, retail workers, pensioners, jobseekers, students, farmers, chefs, business-owners, labourers.  We are parents, grandparents, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers. We have members from every political colour, although most of us are not party political. Some of us have been affected by difficult losses, or have reasons to genuinely fear pregnancy and the health crisis it could bring.

Here are some of the wonderful people who went on doors and worked behind the scenes to secure our basic human rights. We’ll add more photos as we get them, send yours to tippforchoice @ gmail.com if you’d like them added.

Thank you, every single one of you, and thank you to everyone who voted yes.

Tipp for Choice welcomes Séamus Healy TD’s Dáil statement on the JOC report on the 8th Amendment

We are pleased to reproduce here Séamus Healy TD’s statement in the Dáil on the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, from Wednesday 17th January 2018. Deputy Healy has a solid record on wanting more compassionate abortion laws in Ireland and recognises the law must change to keep our girls and women safe. We welcome his statement and hope it will help others to see the benefit of engaging with the findings of both the JOC and the Citizens’ Assembly. We will add statements supporting repeal from other public representatives as they make them.

Séamus Healy:  “I welcome the opportunity to speak on this important issue. First, I want to confirm my support for the holding of a referendum, my support for the recommendations of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution and my support for the repeal of the eighth amendment. I wish to thank the members of the Citizens’ Assembly, the joint committee and all those who have made submissions for the service they have done in dealing with this issue in a thorough, honest and sincere way. I acknowledge this is a difficult, sensitive and emotive issue for many people, and the reasons are not hard to understand, given that intense ethical, religious, social, political and intimate personal issues coincide.

  Irish abortion exists. It is a reality, even though it takes place in other jurisdictions for those who can afford it, and more recently by way of the abortion pill. It exists in a totally uncontrolled and potentially harmful way. It must be dealt with urgently and in a compassionate and understanding way. We cannot continue to have a situation where women’s lives are at risk and where the medical profession is unclear about the legal position. We must protect the health and safety of Irish women. I am satisfied this requires the repeal of the eighth amendment and requires enshrining the joint committee’s recommendations in legislation.

  It is my view that there is a significant middle ground, a majority of the public, in favour repealing the eighth amendment and in favour of the recommendations of the joint committee. In this country the debate around termination has been characterised by polarising arguments and a lack of respect for opposing positions. I want to say I respect and understand the opposing views.

  The eighth amendment was inserted in the Constitution following a referendum in 1983, 35 years ago. A new generation of Irish women and men must now be allowed to have their say on the eighth amendment as they are the very ones it will affect at the most personal level. In 1983 I publicly opposed and voted against the eighth amendment. I did so because I believed then, as I do now, that it would have seriously detrimental effects on well-being, health and, indeed, lives of women, and that it would give rise to widespread uncertainty and confusion in legal and medical terms. Sadly, that is exactly what happened. We have had numerous referenda, Irish and European court cases and, sadly, deaths of women.

  I was a member of the Oireachtas committee, chaired by former Deputy and current Senator Jerry Buttimer, which dealt with the X case and the question of suicide. Out of the deliberations of that committee the then Minister of State, Alex White, produced the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. I put down a number of amendments to the Bill in regard to provision for terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, inevitable miscarriage, rape, incest, the criminalisation of women and the 14-year term of imprisonment. The Government defeated those amendments, claiming they were unconstitutional. I supported that Bill because, although it was limited and restrictive, it represented some improvement on the previous position regarding suicide.

  I welcome the recommendations of the joint committee generally, and particularly as they deal with the various issues which I have just mentioned. I specifically welcome the joint committee recommendation 2.11, which states:

The Committee is of the view that no differentiation should be made between the life and the health of the woman. This is consistent with the evidence from medical experts made available to the Committee regarding the difficulty medical professionals have in defining where a threat to health becomes a threat to life.  I also support recommendation 2.31, which recommends that it shall be lawful to terminate a pregnancy without gestational limit where a fatal fetal abnormality is likely to result in death before or shortly after birth.  

Currently, thousands of women take abortion pills purchased online without medical supervision. It is urgent that a procedure be put in place for a woman to consult a doctor in such circumstances. Therefore, I welcome the recommendation of the Citizens’ Assembly and the joint committee that a termination without a stated reason be permitted up to 12 weeks.

I hope that we can have a constructive and respectful debate on this issue in the next few months”.

You can access the rest of the Dáil statements here.

 

Writing to your Tipperary TDs

Writing to your TDs to let them know that they should support the recommendations of the Committee on the Eighth Amendment is something that is both really easy and really important to do. It’s one of the simplest ways that you can help the campaign for access to free, safe and legal abortion. TDs are much more likely to be contacted by the anti-choice side, which can skew their view of public opinion, so your letter really matters.

Writing to your TDs doesn’t take long. Do it while binge watching The Crown on Netflix, or get together with friends and make it a gals’ night/ guys’ night activity. If you’re really good, do it while hurling, changing a tyre, or making the perfect lemon meringue pie and ugly crying about how Liam should have won Bake Off this year.

giphy

What do I write?

As long as your letter lets your TD know that a) you support repeal and b) you are local and therefore worth a potential vote to them, you’re good to go. We don’t give a template here, as identical letters can be more easily ignored. However, here’s a handy checklist of things your letter could contain.

  1. Start off with your address and the date on the top right hand side of the page and a nice, friendly “Dear (Name of TD)” on the left. This will let your TD know that you know how to write a letter and are therefore to be respected (or feared, depending on the TD).tumblr_nrif63ckdf1uagrd7o1_500
  2. Consider the position of the TD on abortion. If they are pro-choice, tell them that they have your support. If they are anti-choice, on the fence, or non-vocal about their stance, let them know that you support a referendum and that you hope they will too. At the bottom of this post you’ll find a link to a table showing you the stances of the various Tipperary TDs on this issue.
  3. If you are familiar with any of the work they do, let them know. This could be their support for rural or farming communities, their work on the marriage equality referendum or any other good work done. Again, have a look at our cheat sheet below for some ideas!
  4. Explain your desire for legal change. This doesn’t have to be long – three or four sentences is enough. Talk about what has motivated you to be involved. You could talk about:
    – the women who are forced to travel
    – the women who cannot travel (this particularly affects rural, i.e. Tipperary women)
    – taking of abortion pills without medical supervision
    – terminations for medical reasons (TFMR)
    – any of the cases that particularly affected you, e.g. the X case, Ms. Y’s case, the death of Savita Halappanavar, or this 2014 case involving a brain-dead pregnant woman being kept on life support against the wishes of her family due to the Eighth Amendment.
  5. Ask your TD about some of the following:
    – whether they believe that the current regime is working
    – whether they will support decriminalisation
    – what kind of legislative framework they would be prepared to support
    – what they will do to promote the cause of repeal in Tipperary
    – what they will do about abortion access for rural women
  6. Thank them! Tell them that you hope you will hear from them soon and that you will see them supporting the cause of repeal in Tipperary.
  7. You’ve done it! Remember, your letter doesn’t have to be long and it it doesn’t matter if you include everything in the list or not. What matters is that you have sent it. Give yourself a pat on the back. Better still, tell everyone you meet that you are a politically responsible person who cares about women’s lives until one of them buys you a bag of chips. You deserve it!39bee4f33728e1f54402d858540d373c-weekend-update-high-five

Who am I writing to?

Here are the names and addresses of all the Tipperary TDs.

Seamus Healy (Independent)
Workers and Unemployed Action Group,
56 Queen Street,
Clonmel,
Co. Tipperary.

Alan Kelly (Labour)
1 Summerhill,
Nenagh,
Co. Tipperary.

Michael Lowry (Independent)
Abbey Road,
Thurles,
Co. Tipperary.

Jackie Cahill (Fianna Fáil)
8-9 Parnell Street,
Thurles,
Co. Tipperary.

Mattie McGrath (Independent)
Joyce’s Lane,
The Quay,
Clonmel,
Co. Tipperary.

Click here to view the Tipperary TDs Letter Writing Cheat Sheet!

What next?

Don’t stop at your TDs. Now that you’ve caught the letter writing bug, keep going! Write to your senators and local councillors about the issues that matter to you. Write to newspapers, your granny, your best friend from primary school, Beyoncé (especially Beyoncé). There is power in putting pen to paper. Seize it.

“Or don’t you like to write letters. I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Abortion Policy in Ireland: The Adequacy of the Current Regulatory Approach

We would like to welcome this guest post by Tipp for Choice member Shane Gubbins. Shane is an LLM candidate on the Public Law program in NUI Galway and completed this comprehensive overview of the current regulatory approach to abortion in Ireland as part of his postgraduate studies. We thank him for sharing this valuable resource.

Abortion Policy in Ireland: The Adequacy of the Current Regulatory Approach

Abortion, as a topic of conversation, has far been one of the most contentious issues in Irish society, both in a political and social sense. Ireland’s policy on abortion has historically been a political blackspot; a “don’t go there” area. That was of course until the Supreme Court ruling in the X case, a case that effectively catapulted the discussion of Ireland’s stance on abortion past the national stratosphere and out onto the international stage.

The X case was the first seminal case to come into the public fore and it effectively split the country in two. In the 25 years that would follow the X case, a number of cases would arise both at an Irish and EU level on the issue of abortion, imploring the State to take legislative steps and implement a policy to clearly set out Ireland’s stance on the topic.

The background which led to the current regulatory approach.

Article 40.3.3 was inserted into the Bunreacht na hÉireann in 1983 following a sustained and divisive campaign by the Pro Life Amendment Campaign (PLAC). PLAC was the brainchild of thirteen bodies who came together with the ultimate goal of protecting the family unit through the eyes of their religious beliefs[1]. These bodies were predominately catholic and viewed any intervention from the conception of a child to the day of natural birth as a horrendous concept. It is no surprise then, that following on from the decision in Roe v Wade[2] (where it was held that the concept of privacy encapsulating the use of contraceptives held in Griswold extended to abortion in some cases) and the Irish Supreme Court ruling in McGee v Attorney General[3], where the right of the use of contraceptives was held to be an extension of privacy, fears were raised within PLAC that there may be a backdoor entry route to abortion in Ireland unless it was explicitly protected[4].

The end result spawned arguably one of the most, if not the most, contentious amendment to the Constitution; the Eight Amendment. The wording is as follows; “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right[5].

The first major case to come before the Irish courts was that of the Attorney  General v X[6]. This particular case concerned a young girl of 14 who, as a result of being raped, had become pregnant. Both the defendant and her parents wished to terminate the pregnancy. Upon informing the Gardaí of their intentions, the AG requested and obtained an injunction from Costello J. prohibiting the child and her parents, who were already in England, from leaving the jurisdiction to obtain an abortion.

The family returned home to a political earthquake of seismic proportions. The very idea that a girl in the same position as X could be forced to go through with such a pregnancy, which was not only against her wishes but also placed her life in danger, caused outrage amongst the people. An appeal hearing was heard within weeks whereby the Supreme Court held that even when having due regard for the right to life of both the mother and unborn, “when there is a real and  substantial risk attached to her survival not merely at the time of application but in contemplation at least throughout the pregnancy, then it may not be practicable to vindicate the right to life of the unborn[7]”. It was therefore the case that X, or any woman in her position, could legally have an abortion in Ireland in circumstances where the pregnancy was posing a real and substantial threat to her life. However, a woman wishing to seek an abortion in circumstances where there was no “real and substantial” threat to her life could not legally obtain one in Ireland nor, it seemed, could she obtain one outside the country.

Not only was this adopted position untenable for any Irish woman who found herself seeking an abortion, but it too raised eyebrows at European level with the suggestion that there was a conflict with EC law. For in 1991, following the ruling in Grogan[8], Ireland negotiated what became known as “Protocol 17”, a protocol to be adopted into the Maastricht Treaty. Protocol 17 stated that nothing within the Maastricht Treaty would affect the newly adopted 8th amendment in Ireland[9]. However, as a result of the judgement in the ‘X’ case, it became glaringly clear that Protocol No. 17 would indeed conflict with one of the European Union’s founding ethos, namely the freedom of movement of its citizens[10].

In an attempt to ensure the passing of the Maastricht Treaty, the government of the day agreed to a solemn declaration[11] at EU level, prohibiting Protocol No. 17 from affecting a citizen’s freedom of travel or access to abortion information. The following November, the 13th & 14th amendments[12] were accepted by the people, providing that Article 40.3.3 would neither prevent a person from travelling outside of the jurisdiction for an abortion, nor would it prohibit access to abortion information[13].

In essence, the legal framework surrounding abortion in Ireland remained unchanged from 1992 to 2013. Although there have been further cases[14] and not to mention a failed referendum[15], each consecutive government failed in their entirety to attempt to legislate for the gap left after the X case. However, the State’s hand was somewhat forced following the judgement of the ECtHR in the case of A,B &C v Ireland[16], where the court unanimously found in the third named applicants favour that Ireland’s failure to implement legislation for an existing constitutional right had breached her rights under article 8 of the European Charter of Human Rights. In the aftermath of the A, B & C case, a new leadership took to the helm of the State. They commissioned an expert group in November 2011 to address the issue of abortion, whose remit it was to draw on “appropriate medical and legal expertise with a view to making recommendations to Government”[17]. Nearly 21 months later and after extensive and sometimes heated debates, the Dáil passed the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013[18].

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013: What does it entail?

The act of 2013 provides for three circumstance in which it is lawful to carry out a termination[19]. Those circumstances are:

  1. where there is a risk of a loss of life of the pregnant female stemming from a physical illness[20];
  2. where there is a risk of a loss of life of the pregnant female from a physical illness in an emergency situation[21] and;
  3. where there is a risk of a loss of life of the pregnant female from suicide[22].

Section 22 of the Act also creates a criminal offence under which a person who “intentionally destroys [sic] unborn human life” may face imprisonment of up to 14 years[23].

Moreover, the Act defines the term “unborn” in a legislative footing for the first time as “a reference to such a life during the period of time commencing after implantation in the womb of a woman and ending on the complete emergence of the life from the body of the woman[24]. Previous to the Act’s introduction, the definition of ‘unborn’ was non-existent which resulted in  constitutional, judicial and academic uncertainty as to what exactly it meant[25].

In the first instance, two practitioners (one of which must be an obstetrician) must certify that there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the pregnant woman, stemming from that physical illness, which can only be averted by carrying out a medical procedure that may in turn result in the termination of the pregnancy[26].

In the second instance, where there is an emergency situation it is permissible for a single practitioner to certify that there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the pregnant woman, stemming from a physical illness, which can only be averted by carrying out a medical procedure that may in turn result in the termination of the pregnancy[27]

In the third and final instance, an obstetrician, a phycologist  and another practitioner of a relevant discipline must certify that there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the pregnant woman, stemming from a risk that that pregnant woman may take her own life, which can only be averted by carrying out a medical procedure that may in turn result in the termination of the pregnancy[28]

The HSE published a set of practice guidelines for medical practitioners to follow in line with the Act. These guidelines emphasize the point that the Act provides for no minimum time limit under which the procedure may be carried out.[29] Consequently, this means that a health professional carrying out a procedure to terminate a pregnancy must do so with due regard to the right to life of the unborn at all stages.

In essence then, the Act apparently regulates not only the termination of a pregnancy by abortion, but by early delivery as well[30]. However, an issue of ambiguity arises here. The guidelines state that if the pregnancy is nearing viability, then discussions should be had as to how best to proceed[31]. The only issue is “viability”, a term defined neither in the legislation nor in the guidelines themselves. Academic commentary has picked up on this, with Máiréad Enright and her co-authors making the valid point that viability is considered solely in a medical context, so much so that access to the constitutional right of an abortion is determined by a professional opinion on the viability of the unborn, rather than the life of the mother[32].

Section 9 And The Risk of Suicide

Section 9 of the Act permits the carrying out of an abortion where there is a risk to the woman’s life by the threat of suicide.[33] However, unlike the other two circumstances where an abortion may be carried out under the act by the certification of two doctors; a woman whose life is at risk from the threat of suicide must satisfy three medical personnel before receiving a certification. Of the three medical practitioners who must examine the woman, one must be an obstetrician, one must be a general psychiatrist and one must be a psychiatrist that “has provided, mental health services to women in respect of pregnancy, childbirth or post-partum care”[34] in the past. The act and HSE guidelines[35] state that the woman’s GP must be consulted, where practicable, in order to “obtain information” to aid the practitioners in making their decision[36]. In essence, the legislator is introducing a fourth medical professional into the mix, which academic commentary has suggested that this may run the risk of influencing one of the concerned practitioners in their decision[37].

Academic commentary has questioned the need for the involvement of an obstetrician in cases where a referral is made under section 9 of the Act. The guidelines on implementation explicitly state[38] that the woman in question must be examined by two psychiatrists before being referred to an obstetrician or, in circumstances where the obstetrician is the first point of contact, he/she shall refer the woman to a psychiatrist.[39] The concern here is that mental symptoms giving rise to a threat of suicide would not be in anyway deemed to fall under an obstetrician’s remit. Notwithstanding this however, the obstetrician has the power to veto a decision to terminate a pregnancy regardless of the fact that both psychiatrists may have concluded that there is a real and substantial risk to the woman’s life. It is not just the obstetrician who must have due regard to the right to life of the unborn; all practitioners, including the two psychiatrists, involved in the decision are bound by this requirement.

It must be questioned then, why are two independent psychiatrists, who are both adequately qualified and who have both independently concluded (whilst simultaneously having both given due regard to the right to life of the unborn) that there is a real and substantial risk to life stemming from the threat of suicide, allowed to be vetoed by an obstetrician; a medical professional whose remit would be outside of a woman’s mental wellbeing? Although academic commentary picked up on this at the time, with ‘Doctors for Choice Ireland’ describing the requirement of an obstetrician as “incomprehensible”[40], these concerns were not taken on board by the legislator.

The implications of such a decision by the legislator may not have been fully understood at the time, however, they would soon become glaringly clear in what would become known as the Miss Y case[41]. Miss Y arrived in Ireland on the 28th of March 2014 and immediately claimed asylum.[42] She soon discovered that she had become pregnant as a result of being raped in her home country.[43] Ms. Y was made aware of the complexities of Irish abortion law as well as the reality that she could not travel to England to obtain a termination due to the length of time it would take to process her application for a visa.[44]

Ms. Y subsequently developed suicidal tendencies and attempted to hunger strike, refusing both food and water.[45] She was eventually assessed by two independent psychiatrists pursuant to section 9 who both concluded that there was indeed a real and substantial risk to her life stemming from the threat of suicide.[46] However, the obstetrician intervened and refused to sign the certification, citing that the fetus was now viable and the decision should be taken to terminate the pregnancy by cesarean section. The question of the delays by the HSE in assessing Ms. Y subsequently became the center of a HSE inquiry.[47]

Review Procedures

Failure to receive a certification by the relevant number of practitioners that a termination is necessary to remove the real and substantial risk to a woman’s life, is not the terminus for a woman wishing to obtain such a medical procedure. Section 10 of the Act creates an avenue of clinical review where the woman in question has not received the desired certification under sections 7 & 9. The practitioners whose opinions are being sought must inform the woman in writing of the decision not to proceed with the procedure and advise her of the option of a clinical review.[48] The woman, or a person acting on her behalf, may then apply in writing for a review of the decision to the HSE .

A review committee taken from a pool of 10 medical practitioners (preassembled) will meet no later than three days from the date the application is received to conduct the review.[49] The number of members of the committee selected and their specialization will depend on whether the application was made under section 7 or section 9 (two practitioners under section 7 or three under section 9). The committee has seven days to conduct their review and deliver a determination. It is worth noting that in the interests of avoiding bias, any medical practitioner who previously examined the woman will be barred from sitting on the committee. Again, mirroring the act, there is no requirement for the committee to examine the woman together, however, the woman in question does have the right to be heard before the committee. This, Murray opines, suggests that the members of the committee would meet together to hear the woman, in addition to medically examining her.[50]

However , it appears that the decision of the review committee is indeed the terminus of the review process for a woman declined an abortion. The legislation fails to affirm a further route of appeal to either the circuit court or the High Court, notwithstanding the fact that the committee is born out of statute and therefore should be open to judicial review.[51] Whilst the Act remains silent in this regard, the guidelines of implementation do acknowledge the “constitutional right of access to the courts”. However, this should not be interpreted as the HSE creating a route of appeal to the courts under its delegated power.

Article 40.3.3 & Fetal Rights

Article 40.3.3 gives equal protection to both the life of a mother and the life of her unborn child. However, that fetal right to life would appear to extend further than the realms of abortion. Although the case of Roche v Roche determined that the Article did not apply to embryos pre-implantation, with the courts argument centering on the special physical relationship between both the mother and the fetus, it has been held that that right to life can and will operate even in circumstances where the right to life of the mother has been extinguished.

Under the current regulatory regime, dehumanising and invasive treatment may be justified and carried out on the pregnant woman where the principles of fetal best interests and fetal welfare are activated. A rather disturbing example of these principles taking precedent and giving way to such conduct was displayed in the case of PP v HSE. PP related to a young woman who was declared clinically  dead whilst 15 weeks pregnant. She was subsequently placed into an intensive care unit where she underwent physiotherapy, ventilation and heavy doses of mediation in order to preserve her body to carry the child to term. Regardless of the fact that the woman’s body was essentially beginning to decompose, her brain was liquefying, she had a fungal growth growing from a wound in her forehead and her appearance had altered dramatically, the HSE was of the opinion that disengaging life support would in turn result in the termination of both the pregnancy and the potential life of the fetus, a move which could conflict with Article 40.3.3.

In deciphering the question before them, the court firstly addressed the constitutional provisions of the Article, focusing in on the “as far as practicable” limitation. Although the court acknowledged that the State was not required to pursue futile avenues in order to carry out its constitutional duties in respect of the fetal right to life,[52] it did hold that an unborn’s right to life must prevail in circumstances where a mother has died, as long as that right to life is not inimical to the rights of the mother. Notwithstanding that finding, the court seemed to pin its overall decision on whether or not that child could be born alive.[53] In vindication the constitutional right to life of the unborn to life, the court found it necessary to examine “the practicality and utility of continuing such measures”.

Although the Court ultimately permitted the withdrawal of life support on the medical finding that the fetus could not survive the pregnancy, the case raises a startling suggestion that a deceased mother’s body may in fact be maintained if it can be shown that the fetus could survive the pregnancy. What ultimately decided the case of PP was the fact that the court found that due to the extremely rare and dire circumstances the fetus had found itself in, i.e. “the dreadful fate of being present in the womb…in which the environment is neither safe nor stable” and not to mention the fact that the body of the mother was quickly deteriorating due to a number of bacterial and fungal infections, it was in the fetal best interests to discontinue somatic support. De Londras considered the relevance of Article 40.3.3[54] to such cases and noted that the court seemed to be of the view that the Article had much further reaching  application than initially thought, with the provisions suggesting that they are not limited in application to abortion, but rather to vindicating that right to life (across pregnancy) as far as practicable in situations where the fetus would survive the birth. She further raises the argument that because Article 40.3.3 protects the fetus’s right to life to such a degree that it outweighs a woman’s bodily integrity, health & autonomy, the PP case may permeate future medical decisions regarding pregnancy with the effect that it would result in an over-protectionist viewpoint to the fetus.[55]

The result of the PP case in some ways raises more questions than it answers. While it is clear that the courts are willing to give quite a wide interpretation to the “right to life” aspect of Article 40.3.3, it remains to be seen how the courts would handle a situation where the fetus’s prospect of survival outside of the womb is nonexistent. Although the judgement in PP focused on the prospects of survival of the fetus outside of womb with the case ultimately turning on the finding that the fetus would not in fact survive, the court was careful to word its judgement to the facts at hand.

However, the limitation clause of “as far as practicable” may indeed envisage such an option for women who find their pregnancies diagnosed with a fatal fetal abnormality. It was inferred as far back as 1992 in the X case that the State’s duty under Article 40.3.3 was curtailed by the limitation in question to relieve it of its duty in situations where defending that right would be “futile, impractical or ineffective”.[56] More recent case law would seem to support this opinion. In D v Ireland,[57] the woman in question terminated her pregnancy in the UK after learning that one of her unborn had died in the womb whilst the other was diagnosed with a fatal fetal abnormality, essentially making it incompatible with life. She lodged proceedings with the Court arguing that Ireland’s prohibition on abortion and its ban on allowing medical practitioners to effectively aid their patients by organizing abortions abroad for them violated her human rights. Although the court ultimately rejected the application for lack of domestic recourse, it did note that there was indeed a limitation within Article 40.3.3 which gave way to a “feasible argument…that the constitutionally enshrined balance between the right to life of the mother and of the fetus could have shifted in favour of the mother where the “unborn” suffered from an abnormality incompatible with life.”[58]

The D case had the potential to be a landmark ruling, especially if the wording of the judgment is anything to go by. Regrettably however it failed not by its argument, but by the applicant’s hasty resort to the ECtHR. Consequently, there is currently no domestic recourse for a pregnant woman where her unborn is diagnosed with a fatal abnormality in situations where there is no “real and substantial risk” to her own life. Commentary has criticized the current playing field, noting that such a narrow interpretation of the constitution creates an enormous strain on pregnant women, both financially and emotionally.[59] In November of 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee issued a ruling in favour of Amanda Mellet, an Irish woman forced to travel abroad to access abortion services. Ms. Mellet’s fetus was diagnosed with a fatal fetal abnormality and she was told that the fetus would die in utero.  Forced to decide between carrying a dying fetus to full term or travelling abroad in order to ensure no suffering of her unborn, she choose the latter. The inability of the medical professionals dealing with her case to refer her to a clinic in the UK, combined with the excessive cost and emotional strain of having to travel in such a delicate state prompted Ms. Mellet to formally ask the UN to denounce Ireland’s present abortion regime.

The Committee ruled that the State should amend its laws on voluntary abortion and the Constitution if needed to ensure compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Ireland is a party. It held that Ireland’s interference in Ms. Mellet’s decision not to continue her non-viable pregnancy, forcing her to travel, was compelled by domestic law. However, the committee was of the opinion that the interference in the Ms. Mellet’s [sic] decision as to how best cope with her non-viable pregnancy was unreasonable and arbitrary in violation of article 17 of the Covenant.[60] The committee further criticized the current regime, noting that the threat of criminal sanction looming over a practitioner’s head meant that, for those personnel, distinguishing between supporting a pregnant woman on their decision to access abortion and being seen to advocate for that decision created a chilling situation.

Autonomy and Consent

The decision in PP only emphasises the lengths which medical professionals may be required to go in order to protect foetal interests under the 8th Amendment. De Londras argues that when deciding on whether or not invasive treatments should be carried out, medical professionals need not take a woman’s consent as being key to their decision.[61] In fact, she emphasises this with reference to both PP and Savita Halappanavar, the former referring to where the patient could not actually give consent to such a treatment and latter to where the patient explicitly requested such a procedure but was denied. [62] In analysing The Irish National Consent Policy[63], de Londras identifies the tendency of the State to override a Spregnant woman’s consent, noting the how the case of ‘Miss Y’ raises questions as to her ability to consent to the procedure given the fact that she had such poor English, was clearly suicidal, suffering from the mental strain of being raped and had gone on a number of hunger strikes over the past days.[64] What is clear from de Londras’s writing, is that there does indeed seem to be a “reclassification of pregnant women”[65] in that they shift from being autonomous decision making humans in control of their own bodies to becoming a vessel of sorts, carrying a foetus that instead becomes the subject of Constitutional protection and primary medical concern, especially where a clash of rights occurs.[66]

Conclusion

It is clear from the above, brief, analysis that the current regulatory regime of abortion in Ireland is not sustainable. Currently, Ireland’s abortion laws subject women to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and discrimination, in violation of Articles 7 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Human Rights Committee in the Mellet ruling had suggested that a change in the State’s laws and Constitution is needed to rectify their violations of the covenant. However, changing the Constitution is not as easy as it sounds. A referendum would have to be called and a question would need to be put before the people. Further, there is no guarantee that the People would actually opt to alter Article 40.3.3 in any way, shape of form. If they were to reject it, Ireland would remain in breach of its international duties.

On the same note, popular belief is that a repeal of the 8th Amendment by referendum would enable regulatory change. However, it has been suggested that simply repealing the 8th would not remove the jurisprudential burden of the right to life of the unborn, unless the provision is replaced with another expressing the importance of women’s autonomy and control over all medical decision making, especially in pregnancy.[67]

The current legislation in place is tightly constrained by the still as of unclear parameters of Article 40.3.3. However, even so, the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act in itself is not as watertight as the legislator would have originally presumed. For one, the now contentious phrase of “real and substantial risk” to a woman’s life has no legislative definition and could in turn be interpreted as ambiguous. Secondly, the Act provides limited situations to allow access to abortion. Outside of those limitations women are ‘free’ to travel abroad to undergo such a procedure. However, by failing to consider those women who are unable to travel due to physical impairment or financial constraint, the Act indirectly discriminates against them.

Article 40.3.3 was indeed a product of the people’s intention. However, it is of paramount importance to note that it was a product:

  1. sold exclusively as a deterrent to the abortion of unwanted pregnancies;
  2. to a society unrecognizable to that of modern Ireland and;
  3. by a campaign led and comprised almost exclusively by person’s aligned to the Catholic Church.

The ability of Article 40.3.3 to seep into every aspect of maternal affairs was never envisaged by the people, let alone the legislator. Consequently, the only way to ensure that purposeful policy change can occur is to de-constitutionalise foetal rights while placing an obligation on the State to recognise women’s autonomy. This in turn would enable meaningful political debate on the issue of Ireland’s stance on abortion. Granted, the legislator may indeed take a limited approach to abortion, but such legislation would remove the criminal threat looming over medical practitioners and women which currently exists. Further, such change would be the product of hotly contested political discussion and would in turn reflect the true intention of the People. The safeguard in all of this is the Supreme Court. A clear consensus of change on the constitutional landscape would ensure that the SC would have more certainty and more scope in interpreting any new article compared to the narrow case drawn scope it currently possesses in relation to Article 40.3.3.

The Ireland of 1983 is unrecognisable compared to today’s modern liberal landscape, yet it is today’s society that has to live under the chains of 1983. The weight of those chains over the years that have shaped legal, social and political Ireland and it will by no means be an easy task to unshackle them. However, setting a new course in policy and constitutional rights is the only way to reconfigure the current redundant, unworkable and archaic regulatory regime on abortion in Ireland.

 

Bibliography of Texts

  • Ann O’ Loughlin ‘Ms. Y settles court challenge to stop HSE inquiry’ (The Irish Examiner November 4th 2015).
  • Claire Murray ‘The protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013: Suicide, dignity and the Irish discourse on abortion’ (2016).
  • Deaglan De Breadun, ‘Minister sets up expert group on abortion rights’ The Irish Times (Dublin, 30th November 2011).
  • Department of Health, ‘Implementation of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act; Guidance Document for Health Professionals’ (2014).
  • Department of The Taoiseach, Green Paper on Abortion, (1999).
  • Doctors for Choice Ireland, ‘Response to Heads of Bill of Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013’.
  • Fiona de Londras, ‘Constitutionalising Foetal Rights: A Salutary Tale from Ireland’ [2015] .
  • Gerard Hogan and Gerry Whyte, Kelly: The Irish Constitution (4th edn, Butterworths 2003) 1497.
  • Human Rights Committee, ‘Views adopted by the Committee under article 5 (4) of the Optional Protocol, concerning communication 2324/2013’.
  • Ivana Bacik, ‘A History of Abortion Law in Ireland and Prospects for Change’ (2014) 20(2) Medico-Legal Journal of Ireland 75.
  • Kitty Holland “Timeline of Ms Y Case’ (Irish Times October 4th 2014).
  • Máiréad Enright and others, ‘Abortion Law Reform in Ireland: A Model for Change’ [2015].

Cases

  • [1992] ILRM 401.
  • A, B, and C v Ireland App no 25579/05 (ECHR, 16 December 2010).
  • D v Ireland App no 26499/02 (ECtHR, 27 June 2006).
  • McGee v Attorney General (1974) IR 284.
  • PP v HSE [2014] IEHC 622.
  • Roe v Wade 410 US 113 (1973).

Statutes

  • The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013.
  • The Regulation of Information (Services Outside the State for Termination of Pregnancies) Act 1995.

Treatises

  • Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, art. 45.

Constitutional Provisions

  • Article 40.3.3.

Footnotes

[1]The Irish Catholic Doctors’ Guild; Congress of Catholic Secondary School Parents’ Associations;; the Guild of Catholic Nurses;; the Catholic Young Men’s Society; the Guild of Catholic Pharmacists; the Council of Social Concern (COSC); the Irish Pro-Life Movement; the National Association of the Ovulation Method; the St Thomas More Society; the Society the Christian Brothers Schools Parents’ Federation for the Protection of Unborn Children; the St Joseph’s Young Priests Society and the Irish Responsible Society.

[2] Roe v Wade 410 US 113 (1973); Supreme Court recognised that the constitutional right to privacy extends to a woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions — including the decision to have an abortion.

[3] McGee v Attorney General (1974) IR 284

[4] Gerard Hogan and Gerry Whyte, Kelly: The Irish Constitution (4th edn, Butterworths 2003) 1497

[5] Article 40.3.3

[6] AG v X [1992] ILRM 401

[7] ibid 449

[8] Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Ireland Ltd. v. Grogan , Case C-159/90, [1991] E.C.R.4685

[9] Ivana Bacik, ‘A History of Abortion Law in Ireland and Prospects for Change’ (2014) 20(2) Medico-Legal Journal of Ireland 75, 77

[10] Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, art. 45

[11] Department of The Taoiseach, Green Paper on Abortion, (1999), 25

[12] The 13th Amendment guaranteed freedom to travel outside of the jurisdiction to obtain an abortion. The 14th Amendment guaranteed access to information on abortion services lawfully operating in other jurisdictions.

[13] The Regulation of Information (Services Outside the State for Termination of Pregnancies) Act 1995 was enacted to govern the conditions under which abortion information may be provided.

[14] C case & D case

[15] The 2002 referendum on the 25th Amendment attempted to reverse the X decision by ruling out suicide as a ground for obtaining an abortion. It was rejected by the people.

[16] A, B, and C v Ireland App no 25579/05 (ECHR, 16 December 2010)

[17] Deaglan De Breadun, ‘Minister sets up expert group on abortion rights’ The Irish Times (Dublin, 30th November 2011) < http://www.irishtimes.com/news/minister-sets-up-expert-group-on-abortion-rights-1.17828> Accessed Tuesday 29th November 2016 19:53pm

[18] The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 passed the Dáil on July 12th and was signed into law on July 30th 2013.

[19] The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, ss 7-9

[20] ibid, s7

[21] ibid, s8

[22] ibid s 9

[23] ibid, s 22

[24] ibid, s 2

[25] Hogan and Whyte had described the terminology as “unusual” in their text ‘Kelly: The Irish Constitution’ (4th edn, Butterworths 2003) 1511, 7.3.277. Further, the Constitutional Review Group established in 1996 to tackle the discussion of abortion commented that the use of ‘unborn’ as a noun with no further definition “is at least odd” (Report of the Constitutional Review Group 1996, 275)

[26] The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, s 7

[27] ibid, s8

[28] ibid, s9

[29] Department of Health, ‘Implementation of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act; Guidance Document for Health Professionals’ [2014] 31

[30] Máiréad Enright and others, ‘Abortion Law Reform in Ireland: A Model for Change’ [2015] 5(1) feminists@law < http://journals.kent.ac.uk/index.php/feministsatlaw/article/view/173/631 – _ftn28> date accessed: 3/12/2016

[31] The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013

[32] ibid

[33]ibid, s 9

[34] The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, s 9 (2)-(3)

[35] Department of Health, ‘Implementation of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act; Guidance Document for Health Professionals’ [2014] 24

[36] The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, s 9 (4)

[37] Claire Murray ‘The protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013: Suicide, dignity and the Irish discourse on abortion’ [2016] Social and Legal Studies: An international Journal, 15

[38] Department of Health, ‘Implementation of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act; Guidance Document for Health Professionals’ [2014] 24

[39] Claire Murray ‘The protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013: Suicide, dignity and the Irish discourse on abortion’ [2016] Social and Legal Studies: An international Journal, 17

[40] Doctors for Choice Ireland, ‘Response to Heads of Bill of Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013’ < https://doctorsforchoiceireland.com/2013/05/01/response-to-heads-of-bill-of-protection-of-life-during-pregnancy-bill-2013/> accessed 16th December 2016

[41] Claire Murray ‘The protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013: Suicide, dignity and the Irish discourse on abortion’ [2016] Social and Legal Studies: An international Journal, 17

[42] Kitty Holland “Timeline of Ms Y Case’ (Irish Times October 4th 2014) < http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/timeline-of-ms-y-case-1.1951699> accessed 19th December 2016

[43] Kitty Holland “Timeline of Ms Y Case’ (Irish Times October 4th 2014) < http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/timeline-of-ms-y-case-1.1951699> accessed 19th December 2016

[44] [44] Kitty Holland “Timeline of Ms Y Case’ (Irish Times October 4th 2014) < http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/timeline-of-ms-y-case-1.1951699> accessed 19th December 2016

[45]  Kitty Holland “Timeline of Ms Y Case’ (Irish Times October 4th 2014) < http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/timeline-of-ms-y-case-1.1951699> accessed 19th December 2016

[46]  Kitty Holland “Timeline of Ms Y Case’ (Irish Times October 4th 2014) < http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/timeline-of-ms-y-case-1.1951699> accessed 19th December 2016

[47] The HSE’s preliminary findings were quashed by the High Court in November 2015. [Ann O’ Loughlin ‘Ms. Y settles court challenge to stop HSE inquiry’ (The Irish Examiner November 4th 2015) < http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/ms-y-settles-court-challenge-to-stop-hse-inquiry-362955.html> accessed December 25th 2016]

[48] The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, s 10 (1)

[49] The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, s 11

[50] Claire Murray ‘The protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013: Suicide, dignity and the Irish discourse on abortion’ [2016] Social and Legal Studies: An international Journal, 15

[51] Claire Murray ‘The protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013: Suicide, dignity and the Irish discourse on abortion’ [2016] Social and Legal Studies: An international Journal, 16

[52] PP v HSE [2014] IEHC 622, citing A-G v X [1992] 1 IR 1

[53] PP v HSE [2014] IEHC 622

[54] Fiona de Londras, ‘Constitutionalising Foetal Rights: A Salutary Tale from Ireland’ [2015] 22(2) Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 243, 270

[55] Fiona de Londras, ‘Constitutionalising Foetal Rights: A Salutary Tale from Ireland’ [2015] 22(2) Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 243, 271

[56] A-G v X [1992] 1 IR 1

[57] D v Ireland App no 26499/02 (ECtHR, 27 June 2006), 221

[58] ibid

[59] Fiona de Londras, ‘Constitutionalising Foetal Rights: A Salutary Tale from Ireland’ [2015] 22(2) Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 243, 272

[60] Human Rights Committee, ‘Views adopted by the Committee under article 5 (4) of the Optional Protocol, concerning communication No. 2324/2013’ [2016], 7.8

[61] Fiona de Londras, ‘Constitutionalising Foetal Rights: A Salutary Tale from Ireland’ [2015] 22(2) Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 243, 275

[62] Savita Halappanavar presented to Galway University Hospital in October 2012 suffering a miscarriage. Due to the presence of a foetal heartbeat and the lack of a “real and substantial risk” to her life, a termination could not be induced regardless of the fact that there was no prospect of the foetus surviving. Over the following days, Ms. Halappanavar developed sepsis stemming from the miscarriage. Due to a delay in diagnosing her with the illness, by the time the “real and substantial risk” to her life was identified and the foetus was removed, the infection had taken hold. She died four days later.

[63] Fiona de Londras, ‘Constitutionalising Foetal Rights: A Salutary Tale from Ireland’ [2015] 22(2) Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 243, 275

[64] Fiona de Londras, ‘Constitutionalising Foetal Rights: A Salutary Tale from Ireland’ [2015] 22(2) Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 243, 276

[65] Fiona de Londras, ‘Constitutionalising Foetal Rights: A Salutary Tale from Ireland’ [2015] 22(2) Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 243, 277

[66] ibid

[67] ibid 288