Irish Government Inches towards Progress on Abortion Law

According to the Irish Times, fewer women traveled to the UK for an abortion in 2015 than any year since 1980. Still, abortion law reform is an urgent question for Irish citizens, though not so for many lawmakers.  An Amnesty International poll found that 69 percent of respondents want the abortion law to be an priority issue for the government, while 68 percent call the current law “cruel and inhumane.” In June, the United Nations Human Rights Committee determined that the country “should amend its law on voluntary termination of pregnancy, including if necessary its Constitution” which should include “effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination in Ireland.”

The Guardian (UK) reported that Ireland’s two largest political parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, might vote against a referendum to reform the country’s strict abortion law. “I think it is highly unlikely that anything so contentious will be pursued by the next government,” said Shane Ross, an independent MP from Dublin Rathdown.

Abortion rights advocate Ailbhe Smyth told the Guardian: “At a time when the vast majority of people feel that their views on abortion should not be imposed on others, a handful of independent TDs are attempting to do just that.”

In June, however, Irish minister for health Simon Harris stated that the current law excluding abortion for fatal fetal abnormality is “utterly unacceptable” and promised that the government would address repealing the Eighth Amendment, which still bans abortion in almost all circumstances.

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