Thursday, November 30, 2006

Portuguese Referendum

The Portuguese President of the Republic, Anibal Cavaco Silva, has finally scheduled the referendum on abortion, it will take place on February 11th next year.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Poll Shows Its Time To Relax The Abortion Law in UK

From Anne Quesney, Director of Abortion Rights, the national pro-choice campaign in the UK.

A MORI poll released on Tuesday 28th November shows strong support- 63% - for a woman's right to end an unwanted pregnancy. The results are in line with previous studies, indicating a sustained majority support the liberalisation of the abortion law in Britain.

Currently, women require the permission of two doctors before they can access an abortion. Some doctors oppose all abortion and can veto women's decisions or create unfair obstacles to services. NHS waiting lists can delay women by up to eight weeks and abortion is still denied to women in Northern Ireland.

Forty years after abortion was legalised in Britian, it is time law was brought in line with public opinion and laws in the US and other European countries where abortion is available at the request of the woman.

The poll also shows a further 54 per cent agreed that 'abortion should be allowed to take place up to 24 weeks, when two doctors agree it is best for the woman's physical or mental health', 28 per cent disagreed, 13 per cent neither agreed nor disagreed and 6 per cent did not know.

The results confirm our experience that people are sympathetic to the needs of the tiny proportion of women who need later abortion. This is significant given the dominance of the minority anti-choice lobby in the abortion debate over the past two years. The poll shows that, when given even basic information about the current safeguards and the small numbers of women involved, there is public support for women's right to make their own decisions about later abortion.


Mother Gave Birth in Field After Abortion
by Breandán Morley Irish Independent 30/11/06

A woman, pregnant and under huge financial pressure, told an inquest how she paid for an illegal abortion and gave birth to her full-term son in a field.

The Lithuanian woman (26) said the baby was not breathing and was blue, and that she held him in her arms for a long time.

An autopsy was unable to determine if the infant of around 36 weeks gestation, had been born alive. The baby's remains were found in a disused farm shed at Ballybrittas, near Kildalkey, Co Meath on May 2nd, by a builder who had taken shelter from heavy rain.

An appeal by gardaí for the mother to come forward eventually led to the Lithuanian woman living in the nearby town of Athboy and working as a barmaid.

Recalling the day she drove out to Kildalkey, the woman who has a child in national school said: 'I held the baby in my arms. It was a boy. He was not breathing, his eyes were closed. I was crying as I held the baby. I touched his face, which was light blue. His nose was cold. I wiped his face clean with my shirt. I was looking at him and holding him for a long time. I was in pain. I don't remember what happened next'.

The woman was present at the inquest in Navan last Thursday, accompanied by an interpreter. Through her solicitor, she did not dispute the verdict of the inquest- that the baby had died 'of undetermined causes, following a self-induced miscarriage'. The jury had been dismissed by the coroner, John Lacy, before the case was heard.

The petite Lithuanian previously admitted to gardaí she was in a desperate financial situation when she realised she was pregnant. Her partner- whom she refused to name- put pressure on her not to have the baby.

She was expected to send money home to her parents in Lithuania and then a brother arrived who could not find a job. She had to support him as well and was working two jobs to make ends meet. Then her partner left. 'Everything went into one- it all happened in a short space. I was in shock. If not, I would have kept the baby'.

She asked around among her female friends to see if any of them knew how she could procure an abortion and was put in touch with a man who spoke Russian.

He visited her at her place of work early in January. The cost of the abortion was to be €500 to €800, depending on how much medication was required. The woman said she had to sign 'legal papers' promising she would never speak about the abortion to anybody, including her family, and absolving this person of all responsibility if things went wrong. Medication was duly provided and the next day she began to bleed.

Gardaí said a file had been sent to the DPP(Director of Public Prosecutions), who declined to press charges.

Abortion is A Woman's Right

Abortion is a Woman's Right- Letter to the Irish Independent Monday November 27th

I refer to Eilis Grealy's comments (Letters, November 23). It should be a woman's basic right to have an abortion if and when she chooses to do so, especially if she has been put into the situation without her consent, that is, if she was raped, or her first choice method of contraception has failed, for example, the pill.

Why can't all these pro lifers just keep their nose out of issues that don't concern them?

They won't ever be needing abortions, so why deny them to women who do need them?

I don't smoke. It does n't mean I have the power to deny my friends and family their nicotine fix (even though their smoke harms me).

Maybe Eilis should take off her rose tinted glasses and realise that no pro life organisation or priest can put food on the table, clothes on a child and money in a mother's purse in the event of an unwanted pregnancy.

Fiona Wyse,
Brindley Park,
Co Meath.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Take Off 'Catholic Glasses' Judges Told

A Human rights attorney who overturned Columbia's constitutional ban on abortion has urged Irish judges to remove their 'Catholic glasses'.

Monica Roa (30), who has been the victim of death threats, burglaries and has even been accused of plotting genocide, said Irish judges should eliminate personal and religious bias when confronted with complex cases involving the rights of the unborn and women's reproductive rights, including abortion.

Ms Roa- whose historic legal action has compelled all public health hospitals in Colombia, where 90% of the population are Catholic, to perform abortions in limited circumstances- said education of judges was critical to any legal attempts to liberalise Ireland's restrictive abortion regime.

'It is really hard for judges to understand that they have to apply the law without reference to their own personal beliefs' she said addressing a Safe & Legal Pro-Choice forum in Dublin last night.

Ms Roa, who has interviewed judges around the world as part of an international study of legal strategies used to advance women's reproductive rights, said judges must 'take off those Catholic glasses' and rule without bias.

'Judicial bias is a major conflict throughout the world' said Ms Roa, who is the director of the Gender Justice Programme at Womens Link Worldwide, a non-governmental organisation that advances women's rights through the implementation of international human rights law.

The attorney, who travels at all times with a bodyguard, siad: 'In Ireland, as in Colombia, most judges are Catholic or have been educated in Catholic schools. It is really difficult for them to take off those Catholic glasses and look at the law and international laws without that bias. The first step to overcoming bias is to be aware of it'.

Last May, Colombia's constitutional court partially lifted the abortion ban, allowing pregnancy terminations in cases of severe foetal deformity; when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or when the mother's life is at risk.

Ms Roa's visit to Ireland coincides with an Irish Government announcement that new laws will be introduced to deal with the issues raised in this week's frozen embryo ruling.

Friday, November 03, 2006


The Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign will be holding a SAFE & LEGAL FORUM in November.


'Abortion Rights and Advocacy in Britain'
'The Irish Experience and Options for the Future'


'A Human Rights Approach-Success on Abortion in Colombia'
'Human Rights Based Strategies and Abortion in Ireland'.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The X Case: Abortion after rape

February 1992: A 14 year old girl was raped by a neighbour and fell pregnant. The girl told her mother she was suicidal and the family travelled to Britain for an abortion. However, before the procedure, the family asked gardaí if DNA from her foetus could be used as evidence in a court case against the neighbour.

The then Attorney General, Harry Whelehan, heard about the case and was granted a High Court injunction under the Constitution to prevent the procedure from going ahead.

However, the injunction was appealed in the Supreme Court, which overturned it by a majority of three to two. The court's opinion was that a woman had a right to an abortion if there was a real and substantial risk to her life. In any case, the girl miscarried soon after the judgement was made.

The case led to three proposed amendments to the Constitution, which were the subject of a national referendum in 1992. Two of the amendments-concerning the right to travel for an abortion and the right to information about the procedure-were passed, while the other-to ban abortions, even if the mother was suicidal-was defeated.

Following the X Case, politicians promised legislation to cover situations like the X Case. Nearly 15 years later, we are still waiting.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


1861: Abortion is made a criminal offence in Ireland.

1983: Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution is amended to protect 'the right to life of the unborn'.

1988: Ban on dissemination of abortion information from the Supreme Court, but it is appealed.

February 1992: The X case- Mr Justice Costello grants a High Court injunction preventing a 14 year old, pregnant as a result of rape, from travelling to Britain for an abortion.

November 1992: Two referendums passed which amend Article 40.3.3 to protect the rights to travel and information.

1995: Legislation to provide for abortion information and the right to travel introduced.

1998: The Government establishes an Inter-departmental Working Group on Abortion.

1999: Green Paper on Abortion published, laying out options for reform.

November 2000: An All-Party Oireachtas Committee on abortion publishes its report and fails to reach consensus. A subcommittee then makes a recommendation.

October 2001: Plan for a referendum to allow abortion where a woman's life is at risk from pregnancy, but not suicide.

2002: Referendum, which sought to roll back the Supreme Court decision of 1992, was defeated by 50.42% to 49.58%.

2004: Crisis Pregnancy Agency study finds nearly one in three woman had experienced a crisis pregnancy.

May 2005: Pro-Life Campaign says it intends to lobby for another referendum 'to restore legal protection to the unborn'

August 2005: Irish Family Planning Association launches campaign to demand legal abortion services in Ireland.

October 2006: The largest survey on sexual health in Ireland finds that 64% of people see abortion as acceptable in certain circumstances.