Press Release & Podcast: Group of organisations to raise common points and reservations regarding Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill
Following the Oireachtas hearings with medical and legal experts on the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill, a group of 11 organisations not represented at the hearings come together today at a press conference to demand a range of changes to the proposed legislation. Representatives of the organisations collectively called for the following amendments to the Bill:
Criminalisation: the proposed legislation replaces the Offences against the Person Act 1861 rather than repealing it. The government must repeal the relevant sections of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 and decriminalise abortion. Criminalisation does not work; it causes pain and suffering to women, is incompatible with international human rights norms and according to the ECHR has a chilling effect on women and doctors
2. Risk of loss of life from self-destruction
There is no medical or clinical justification for the requirement that a panel of doctors authorise an abortion on grounds of risk to life arising from risk of suicide due to an unwanted pregnancy. The requirement of a second psychiatrist does not apply when a pregnancy is not involved. The Mental Health Act 2001 requires only two medical practitioners to authorise the involuntary detention of an individual on mental health grounds, including risk to life by suicide. The proposed legislation requires up to seven practitioners to assess risk to life by suicide due to an unwanted pregnancy and authorise a termination on grounds of such a risk to life.
An arbitrary distinction is being drawn between physical risk to life and risk to life arising from risk of suicide due to an unwanted pregnancy. The current proposal requires unanimity between an obstetrician and two psychiatrists for the approval of abortion, giving the obstetrician – with no competence in suicide assessment power of veto over two consenting psychiatrists. Consultation with the woman’s GP should only take place with her prior consent.
3. Conscientious objection
There should be an explicit duty to treat in a medical emergency regardless of any conscientious objection. Legislative provision must be made to ensure that medical professionals are required to declare anti-choice views, and that they have a duty to absent themself from any panel deciding on abortion. Any panel should only consist of non-conscientious objectors. It must be ensured that non-objecting providers are accessible and available throughout the country.
4. Formal medical review procedures
A two-week review period is unrealistic and could result in serious and potentially fatal repercussions. Best international practice is that a decision is made within 3 days. Realistic timeframes must be included in the new legislation.
5. Broaden the scope of the legislation to include fatal foetal abnormalities and pregnancies resulting from rape and incest.
Organisations supporting these changes include:
National Women’s Council of Ireland, Action on X, Abortion Rights Campaign, Doctors for Choice, ICTU Women’s Committee, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Irish Family Planning Association, Irish Feminist Network, Termination for Medical Reasons Group, Cork Women’s Right to Choose Group and Galway Pro Choice Group
What: Press Conference – Common points and reservations on Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill
When: Wednesday, 22nd May, 10:30 am
Where: Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street, Dublin
Listen to a podcast of the press conference here:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, December 9th 2011
The Irish Feminist Network has condemned the measures contained in the Social Welfare Bill 2011 which, they say, amount to an attack on women and children.
Co-ordinator Alison Spillane said, “While we welcome the Minister’s decision to remove the sections relating to cuts and changes to the Disability Allowance, this Bill still contains a number of extremely regressive measures which will make life even more difficult for thousands of people and serve to decrease domestic demand and stifle the economy further”.
“The changes to the One-Parent Family Payment, the reductions in Child Benefit for large families, the withdrawal of the multiple births grant, and the extension of means testing to HSE home helpers amount to a vicious assault on women and children, particularly those who are less well-off”, Ms Spillane said.
“We call on all TDs to take a stand for women and children and vote against the Social Welfare Bill 2011 in the Dáil today.”
In general Budget 2012 shows a continuation the same failed policies pursued by the Fianna Fáil/Green Party administration. The claim that this Budget is about ‘jobs, reform, and fairness’ does not stand up to the slightest analysis – the proposals it contains are short-sighted and poorly thought out. Austerity in isolation will not create either jobs or growth. In fact, the measures contained in Budget 2012 will take, at least, a further 15,000 jobs out of the economy – this strategy is non-sensical.
“Furthermore, women’s groups throughout the country will be disproportionately affected by the decision to cut funding to the National Women’s Council by 35% even though the resultant savings will have virtually no impact on the deficit.”
“The government had real choices in this budget. For example, introducing a third band of income tax on incomes over €100,000 could raise €760 million for the Exchequer and a temporary levy on corporate profits could yield nearly €900 million. Instead, they have chosen to focus on consumption taxes, such as the VAT increase, which are the most regressive form of taxation and will disproportionately impact on low income groups. This budget is an affront to the notion of equality.”
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