Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Irish Campaign Welcomes Portuguese Referendum Result

Press release issued on Monday 12th February 2007.

The Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign has welcomed the result of Sunday's Portuguese referendum on abortion. Of those who voted in the referendum, 59.3 per cent supported making abortion available in a wider range of circumstances. The Portuguese Prime Minister, Jose Socrates, has said that his Socialist government will liberalise the law on abortion as a result of the vote.

The Safe and Legal Campaign has called on the Irish Government to take action on abortion, and as a minimum to legislate for the X case. Ms X was a 14-year-old pregnant rape victim who was suicidal as a result of her pregnancy, and in whose case the Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that abortion would be lawful. The X case allows for abortion on the grounds that a pregnancy poses a real and substantial risk to a woman's life. However, in the absence of any legislation clarifying how doctors may implement the X case, women seeking to have abortions in Ireland currently face criminal conviction and a potential sentence of life imprisonment.

Ivana Bacik, spokesperson for the Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign, said today:

'The Portuguese result means that Ireland has by far the most restrictive abortion law in Europe. It shows the need for us to have a public debate about the reality of crisis pregnancy in Ireland, and the problems faced by those women who must travel abroad to obtain legal abortion.'

The Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign believes that abortion should be safely and legally available in Ireland.

Irish Abortion Statistics

At least 123,258 women women travelled from Ireland to the UK for abortions between January 1980 and December 2005.

5,585 women travelled to the UK for abortions in 2005. Women aged between 20-30 years represented the majority of those who travelled to Britain for abortion services in 2004.

These figures undercount the amount of women travelling to the UK for abortions as they only include those who choose to give Irish addresses to clinics at which they obtain abortion services.

For further information:
write to: Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign,
P.O. Box 10740
Dublin 1

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cardinal Urges Portugal to Reject Abortion in Poll

from Agence France-Presse in Lisbon.

Portugal's top cleric urged followers to reject abortion as the predominantly Catholic country decides in a weekend referendum whether to liberalise the country's strict anti-abortion stance.

Catholics must take into account the sanctity of life when casting their votes, Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo said. Sunday's referendum will ask voters if they agree with the legalisation of abortion until the 10th week of pregnancy.

The conscience of Christians regarding abortion 'must be illuminated not only by natural light but also by the word of God and the teachings of the Church,' the cardinal, who is Patriarch of Lisbon, wrote in a text published on the church's website.

Predominantly Roman Catholic Portugal has one of the most restrictive laws against abortion in Europe. The practice is currently allowed only until the 12th week of pregnancy in cases of rape, a malformed foetus or if the woman's life is in danger.

The influential Church has vocally opposed any change to the law during the referendum campaign, with bishops and priests frequently speaking out from the pulpit against liberalisation.

Two Church-run daycare centres in Setubal, a pport city some 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Lisbon, handed out copies of a letter purportedly from an aborted foetus to its mother which angered some parents and sparked controversy.

'Mom how were you able to kill me? How were you able to allow me to be cut up in pieces and thrown into a bucket?' asks the letter which was reprinted in seevral newspapers and internet sites.

In a referendum held in 1998 voters upheld the existing abortion law by 51 per cent to 49 per cent, but the result was declared void as nearly seven out of 10 voters stayed away.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Abortion Uptake Highest Among Twentysomethings

By Eilish O'Regan, Health Correspondent of the Irish Independent

The highest number of abortions are among Irish women aged between 20 and 24. A report from the Crisis Pregnancy Agency shows that of 6,522 women who had abortions in one year, 2,258(34%) were in this bracket.

But the group most likely to seek an abortion are teenagers. The rate of abortion is higher relative to the number of teenage pregnancies. By international standards, the abortion rate is not high. However, the picture is not fully clear because of a lack of data.

The report showed that 916 of the abortions took place among girls under the age of 20. There has been a rise in the number of teenagers from Ireland ahving abortions in the last three decades. But the number of teenage girls having babies has not changed significantly in those 30 years.

Most teenage births here are among girls aged about 18 or 19. In 1973, there were 16.3 births per 1000 teenagers aged between 15 and 19. It peaked in 1980, and since then it has fallen again. The figure is now at around 16.8 per 1,000.

The agency's statistical report for 2005 gives an overview of current pregnancy and birth trends as well as how they are changing. Despite a steady decrease in the birth rate here over the past two decades, it is still the highest in the EU.

The average age for giving birth is higher here than in other European countries. The average age is here is 30 while it is 29 in Norway and 28 in the UK.

The proportion of births outside of marriage here has increased steadily since the 1970s. Nearly one third of births take place among women who are not married, compared to just 3.2% in 1973. However, many of these women are in stable relationships and do not conform to the traditional image of the unmarried mother.

The reprot also underlines the dramatic fall in babies who are given up for adoption here. In 1976, nearly four in every ten children born outside marriage was adopted. But this has now declined to just 0.5%. More women are choosing to keep their babies and adoption is 'no longer seen as an expected or real solution to crisis pregnancy'.