Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's Time The State Faced Up To Abortion Realities

The Irish Examiner - Letter to the Editor

It's time the state faced up to abortion realities

Thursday, July 30, 2009

HOW ironic if, as Dan Buckley suggests (July 21), a European Court of Human Rights decision in the A,B and C abortion cases becomes Europe's equivalent of Roe v Wade.

Anti-choice groups have influenced the Irish state's policy on this matter to the extent that it has failed even to legislate on the protection of a woman's life when, in the words of the X case judgment, there is a "real and substantial risk" that she will die because of her pregnancy.

It is surely no defence to claim that every woman in the country who finds herself in situation where she wishes to choose abortion has the option of exposing her most intimate concerns before a court in order to seek permission. It is time the state was honest and admitted that far from being a shining example of difference from our European neighbours, abortion is commonplace here.

Failure to face up to that reality and give Irish women access to those reproductive rights shared by most European women has meant that, as US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg recently said of the situation in the USA, "we have a policy that only affects poor women ... and I don't know why this hasn't been said more often".

A period of recession can only deepen the inequalities between Irish women who have the means to define and exercise their right to choose abortion and can travel to Britain, the Netherlands or further afield and those who do not. The matter of abortion involves complex issues of rights and ethics which Irish politicians have grappled with only at the most simplistic level – and rarely with a focus on the rights, experiences or health of women.

The Irish state's failure to address this issue and its lack of interest in or understanding of the difficulties pregnant women may face deserves to be exposed in an international arena.

Dr Sandra McAvoy
Douglas Road

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