08Dec Abortion legislation review underway by the Oireachtas Health Committee

The Oireachtas Health Committee is hosting a  review into abortion legislation. It will hear from ‘service users, providers and the public.’

An independent chair is expected to be appointed in the next few months to lead the review.

RTÉ reports that The Minister for Health has said that he does not believe that there is sufficient access to abortion services across the country.

Stephen Donnelly was appearing before the Oireachtas Health Committee as he launched a review into abortion legislation.

Link to article:

https://www.rte.ie/news/2021/1208/1265522-abortion-review/

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Déise4Life, Dungarvan has submitted the following to the ACP on this topic:

Even pro-choice people should be calling for reform of our abortion legislation

Pro-life people believe that both lives, mother and baby, are precious. Even those who put no value on the baby’s life, however, should take into account that women can be traumatised by their abortion experiences. Both sides, therefore, should agree with what is said in this article.

The vast majority of abortions in Ireland, under our 2018 abortion legislation, are carried out by GPs dispensing abortion pills; these are called medical abortions (as distinct from the abortions performed in hospitals at later stages of pregnancy).

There is a HSE Medical Abortion Consent Form (available online) which is signed by both parties, and which says in plain English that the woman has had explained to her, and fully understands, what is involved in an abortion, including the possible dangers.

But even the most committed pro-choice advocates might start to have doubts about what actually happens in practice, when they read stories currently posted on the Life Institute website (https://thelifeinstitute.net/blog).

Practically no information about each case is officially collected, but there are some ominous signs:

  • There were more than 2000 calls to the HSE post-abortion counselling helpline in 2020 alone. That is about one out of every three women who had a medical abortion that year.
  • The Irish Family Planning Association, in its 2019 annual report, said that 8% of a sample of their clients that year ended up in hospital after taking the abortion pills. Nationally, that suggest about 500 women a year being hospitalised after taking these pills.
  • It has recently been confirmed (parliamentary question from Carol Nolan Independent TD, Laois-Offaly) that there have been 94 abortion-related claims to the State Claims Agency up to the end of October 2021.
  • There have been large variations in abortion rates in neighbouring Irish counties – Waterford has considerably higher rates than Wexford, Kilkenny or Tipperary, for example. Are GPs in some counties perhaps doing a better job of listening and counselling than others, and when this happens, are more women changing their minds about proceeding with an abortion?

There is to be an official abortion review at the end of this year. We in Déise4Life are concerned that this will be a mere whitewash job, rather than a real examination, but we intend nevertheless bringing the above facts to the attention of this review. We urge people who share our concerns to do the same, or at least to contact their TDs about it.

A GP is paid €150 for an initial consultation, and a further €300 only if the abortion proceeds – and those, believe it or not, are the existing arrangements. It would be far more sensible, surely, if the initial consultation took place instead with a trained psychotherapist, who would outline all the options, and all the dangers, to the woman, so that she at least makes a truly informed decision.

And it should be blindingly obvious to everyone that the three-day reflection period, in the current legislation, is vitally important and should be retained. Nearly one in five women here in 2020 changed their minds about abortion after the initial consultation. It would be madness to get rid of it.

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Going further afield…The Catholic Herald reports:

The birth of the Christ child is an occasion to reflect on other babies and on life in the womb that precedes birth. The most dispiriting development recently in respect of prenatal human life is the European Parliament’s vote last month, directed mainly at Poland, but having far wider implications. Andrew Tettenborn examines its implications elsewhere in this issue. As he says, the parliamentary motion called denying access to abortion “gender-based violence” and contrary to the rule of law. It characterises abortion as a “fundamental human right” that “cannot be subordinated to cultural, religious or political considerations”. It demands that the Polish government legalise abortion and remove all criminal sanctions imposed on it. Then it calls for restrictions on the right of doctors and nurses to refuse to engage in abortions for reasons of conscience. It calls on the European Commission to produce a directive to prevent member states from restricting access to “sexual and reproductive health and rights”.

Link to full article:

https://catholicherald.co.uk/eu-ruling-over-abortion-harms-us-all/

5 Responses

  1. Pat Savage

    Abortion legislation review…

    Today RTÉ news reported on the present hearing, reporting the minister and a senior civil servant feeding into the Oireachtas Health Committee.

    While the minister is an elected politician, the tragedy is that the present government or senior civil service has a designated principal officer whose remit covers abortion.

    The cases are rising in the Covid crisis and due to a fear that the health service would be overpowered everyone is on their guard. An acceptable argument but why overrun? Probably down to poor planning and leadership and yet we now have a senior civil servant dedicated to ensure abortion regulations are carried out.

    Surely a contradiction or such a coincidence that it met today on the most holy feast of the Immaculate Conception.

  2. Pádraig McCarthy

    Abortion Legislation Review…

    Information on the Review of the 2018 Act is given at
    https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/67c5c-review-of-the-operation-of-the-health-regulation-of-termination-of-pregnancy-act-2018-public-consultation/

    There are three phases to the Review: the service users, the service providers, and the public. This also has a link to download a Public Consultation Form. Submissions may be made on-line or by post. The deadline for responses is Friday 1 April 2022. (!)
    The above web-link says: “Submissions responding to the questions set out in the consultation document below are welcome. Submissions outside the scope of the review of the operation of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act cannot be addressed in this forum.”
    The Minister told the Health Committee: “What we have seen is a very significant reduction in the number of women travelling to the UK… Certainly the numbers of women involved and travelling versus the number of terminations provided here would suggest that that objective largely has been achieved.”
    This involves a major failure in dealing with the matter of termination of pregnancy. Relocating abortions from abroad to this jurisdiction does nothing to address the causes.
    A vital and essential element in the provision of healthcare is that prevention is better than cure. In the case of Covid-19, we have seen the extraordinary measures undertaken by the public and by government to prevent the spread of the virus. This has taken the form of significant alteration of behaviour by the people, and the development and promotion of vaccines. We have much advice from health professionals about how we can minimise our risk, for example, of lung cancer (by not smoking) and skin cancer (by using sunblock in the sunshine). Those involved in certain sports are advised on the dangers of concussion. Dietary advice is widely offered. There are many other examples.
    The abortion legislation does nothing to help reduce the likelihood of seeking abortion. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment reported (2:38) in 2018: “the majority of terminations are for socio-economic reasons that are unrelated to foetal abnormality or to rape.” Similar conclusions have been reached in surveys in USA. We have yet to see any steps here to identify the precise social and economic reasons which leave women in crisis pregnancy with the grief of concluding that their only realistic solution is abortion.
    Contraception is sometimes proposed as an answer; but the widespread availability of contraception has clearly not been a remedy. The government has issued many regulations and advice on altering our behaviour in the matter of Covid-19. There is a marked absence of such recommendations in relation to crisis pregnancy. Perhaps it is taboo to promote the practice of promoting a stable relationship with one sexual partner. This would not, of course, solve the whole problem, but it could be one element in addressing it, which relies on personal responsibility, as has been called for with the pandemic.
    Pope Francis has repeated many times that action to end a human life is never the solution to a problem.
    Pregnancy, childbirth and childcare are matters involving the whole of society. There are voluntary organisation offering support in crisis pregnancy to care for mother and child, but government should ensure it is a statutory right in every case to have the support, including economic and social, in every pregnancy.

  3. Jim Stack

    Abortion legislation…

    During the 2018 abortion referendum campaign, some Irish newspapers devoted whole sections to the abortion issue over a period of many months, and RTE and TV3 featured quite a number of debates about the issue. An outside observer would have the impression that the issue was covered and debated in a thoroughly professional manner, and that a fully-informed public then made their decision to repeal the Eighth Amendment and legalise abortion here.

    Unfortunately, it was not like that at all. Nearly always, in media coverage of referenda, there are Expainer articles, with the issues presented in simple question and answer format, but that did not happen in the abortion coverage. There were no Explainer articles asking and answering the most basic questions, such as 1.What number of abortions can we expect after Repeal? 2.How many of these will be for hard cases such as rape or severe foetal disability? 3. What provisions will be made for pre-abortion counselling? 4. What state supports will be provided to women who want to keep their babies? 5. If abortion is a women’s health issue, will maternal mortality and morbidity improve substantially (or at all) following Repeal? 6. Which subgroups in society will have the highest abortion rates? And so on.

    Those questions were not asked in the media, they were not asked of campaigners by journalists at press conferences, and they were not asked on television or radio programmes. They were not asked because truthful answers to these questions would have done nothing to advance the abortion agenda. The political and media establishments and business establishments all wanted a liberal abortion regime, and so carefully selected anecdotes (the tragic Savita case in particular) were allowed to dominate the debate rather than any careful analysis of the facts. The only place something approaching a real debate occurred was on social media, and that forum was closed down as soon as evidence emerged that support for repeal was beginning to decline.

    Three years on, the same pattern is evident again. No one in the mainstream media is now asking 1. Did the number of abortions increase? 2. How many abortions were healthy babies of healthy women? 3. Did women’s health improve in the last 3 years? 4. How many women suffered serious health consequences (mental or physical) as a result of having an abortion? 5. How many women changed their minds about having an abortion, and does this vary by abortion provider? 6. Are women from poor economic backgrounds more likely to have abortions? Etc.

    No, here too the answers would be uncomfortable, so the media and politicians prefer, for the most part, to ignore the abortion issue, and when they do cover it, to concentrate on non-issues such as the geographical spread of abortion provision and prayer vigils outside abortion centres. Sligo, in the first two years of the new regime, had no GP’s providing abortions, but still had higher abortion rates than some neighbouring counties. And not a single court case has been brought, never mind successfully prosecuted, for intimidation or harassment at these prayer vigils. As I say, non-issues – whose sole purpose is to distract attention from real issues.

    There has also been media support for getting rid of the 3-day reflection period, but little or no media coverage of the HSE data that shows just how effective the 3-day wait has been in allowing women to change their minds.

    The above is, I hope, a fair summary of how the abortion issue has been dealt with in our national media. The pro-life case is simply not getting fair coverage. In these circumstances, surely it falls on the Church to do what it can to educate people about what has been going on, and about what needs to be done to reduce abortion numbers? And, of course, to re-iterate the teaching of the Church on the sacredneess of human life.

    I know you are extremely busy, but I appeal to ACP members to undertake this task in their own parishes e.g. by devoting homilies to this matter. If any of you are considering this, and want assistance in tracking down factual material about our new abortion regime, I would be glad to help. I may be contacted via the site moderator. Or I could post an article here setting out the known statistical facts about our new abortion regime – and they make stark reading indeed- if that would be helpful.

  4. Liamy Mac Nally

    Abortion legislation…

    The Pro-Life Campaign writes:
    On Wednesday, 15th December, the Foetal Pain Relief Bill 2021 moves to Second Stage in the Dáil, where it will be debated and voted on during Private Members time.

    The Bill which was introduced in the Dáil last May by Carol Nolan TD and co-sponsored by ten other deputies is a humane and important legislative proposal that if passed will ensure that no baby is forced to endure unnecessary pain during late-term abortions, that are now legal in Ireland in certain circumstances.

    Further details:
    https://prolifecampaign.ie/painreliefbill/

  5. Pádraig McCarthy

    Abortion legislation…

    #3 Jim Stack:
    “Those questions were not asked in the media.”
    A truly shocking example of a question being asked, but not answered, is in the interview of Seán O’Rourke with then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on RTÉ Radio 1 on 18 May 2018, just a week before the referendum on the repeal of the Eighth Amendment. It can be seen at
    https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1750737358317293
    Seán O’Rourke opens the interview by putting it very directly to Leo Varadkar that the ending of a pregnancy means the taking of a life. Mr Varadkar responded but did not address the point put to him. Perhaps this might be excused as Mr Varadkar made his own opening remarks.
    But Seán O’Rourke returned to the same point right away, and again Mr Varadkar did not address it.
    Seán O’Rourke continued to pursue the matter. Mr Varadkar continued to talk around the matter without ever answering the question whether termination of pregnancy means the taking of a life.