Thursday, May 17, 2007

Migrant Women’s Grim Choice On Abortion - Letter in the Irish Examiner

Letter to the Editor-The Irish Examiner- Thursday May 17th

RECENT events make it clearer than ever that we need politicians to commit themselves to providing clear legal protection for women faced with crisis pregnancies by setting a timetable for legislation to underpin the ‘X’ judgement, to deal humanely with the issue of foetal abnormality and ultimately to call a referendum to remove the eighth amendment to the constitution.

Each year around 6,000 Irish women are forced to add to the trauma and expense of pregnancy termination by travelling abroad, often alone. Those are the ones who have the means and freedom to travel — the Women’s Health Council has expressed concern to the HSE about “migrant women accessing unsafe ‘backstreet’ abortions due to the legislative ban on abortions in Ireland and the fact that because of their precarious residence status, many women are afraid to travel … Many ethnic minority women find themselves in situations of isolation, poverty and exploitation. Many women might have been infected with STIs, including HIV, through sexual violence or may even be pregnant through rape”.

I am sickened to learn what these poor women are going through. In the past couple of years there has been actual and anecdotal evidence of women accessing backstreet abortion in Ireland. At least the clinics abroad make the procedure as safe as possible and patients are tended with expert care and understanding. I used to consider how dreadful it must be for people who lived elsewhere, in the developing world for example, and how terrible it must have been in days gone by.

In my ignorance I had not spared a thought for our immigrants going through the dangerous, painful nightmare of backstreet abortions on Irish soil because they are unable to leave the country. It is time for our politicians to wake up to reality. Denying women the right to make their own choices does not make the termination of pregnancies go away, either in the UK or here in our own back streets.

Nicola french Davis, Georges Quay, Cork

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