The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has today (28.01.10) welcomed the publication of the Human Rights Watch report A State of Isolation: Access to Abortion for Women in Ireland.
The IFPA is not surprised that the Irish Government has been criticised by this important international human rights group. As a service provider IFPA has extensive knowledge of the extreme physical, financial and emotional hardship experienced by women who are forced to travel abroad for health care that should be available to them at home.
According to the IFPA, the criminalisation of abortion in Ireland violates international human rights standards because it disproportionately harms women's health and well-being. The organisation believes that women and girls do not give up their human rights when they become pregnant nor should the State take these human rights away with impunity.
The experiences of women outlined in the Human Rights Watch report are illustrative of the reality faced by thousands of women in Ireland. Since 1980, at least 138,000 women have been forced to travel abroad to access safe and legal abortion services. The IFPA believes that the criminalisation of abortion has little impact on abortion rates, it merely adds to the burden and stress experienced by women experiencing crisis pregnancies.
Ireland’s restrictive laws on abortion are out of step with those of its European neighbours. Forty four out of 47 European countries provide for abortion to protect women’s health.
This is the second time in the last two months that Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws have been scrutinised by international human rights bodies. In December the European Court of Human Rights heard a challenge to Ireland’s abortion laws.
According to the IFPA, Ireland has a strong reputation for promoting human rights values around the world, yet it is unwilling to recognise the human rights of women in its own country. Ireland’s restrictions on abortion put it firmly outside of human rights norms.
The IFPA has called on the Government to take responsibility and stop exiling women experiencing crisis pregnancies.
The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has been to the fore in setting the agenda for sexual and reproductive rights in Ireland for the last 40 years.
The IFPA offers a comprehensive range of services which promote sexual health and support reproductive choice on a not-for-profit basis, including clinical and counselling services, sexual and reproductive health information, education, training and awareness raising.