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31st May 2023

Abortion legislation needs changing, committee set to hear

Clodagh McKeon

“The start of a creep towards a more progressive termination of pregnancy regime.”

Later today, the chair of an independent review of Ireland’s abortion laws will tell the Joint Oireachtas Committee that elements of the legislation should be changed.

Marie O’Shea will propose that the mandatory three-day waiting period be scrapped among other major changes.

According to RTÉ News, O’Shea said she hopes the Government will implement and support these necessary changes in the coming weeks and months.

The Independent Review of the Operation of the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Act was established in December 2021.

Its purpose is to assess the extent to which the objectives of the legislation have or have not been achieved.

Marie O’Shea will share that the review found Irish women eligible for care in Ireland are travelling abroad for  pregnancy termination services.

She’ll give reasons for this including evidence that the three-day waiting period is having a negative affect on women in Ireland looking for to terminate a pregnancy.

This may be because the three-day waiting time could extend into weekends.

Marie O’Shea will address the committee today.

O’Shea also cited that women may be seeing their GP after the 12-week of pregnancy mark. She said this could be down to shortages of GP or hospital appointments or long waiting times.

Addressing the committee today, Marie will say: “I have heard senior members of Government and others voice concerns about changes to the legislation, fearing that they would be perceived as being tantamount to a breach of promise with the electorate.”

According to The Irish Times O’Shea will say: “I have heard them express their reluctance to amend the Act in accordance with the recommendations contained in the report. At first sight, this is an understandable response.

“The draft framework of the legislation was presented to the people of Ireland prior to the referendum in May 2018, to provide clarity as to how termination of pregnancy services would be regulated.

“I think it is reasonable to say that among the 66.4% of those who voted in favour of repeal of the Eighth Amendment were people who would have been influenced by the scope of the proposed regulations.

“They may hold genuine fear that the recommendations contained in the report represent the start of [a] creep towards a more progressive termination of pregnancy regime.”

The final report went to Cabinet last month and Leo Varadkar said the recommendations in the review would be implemented immediately.


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