Unions urge no further delay in X legislation
Reports that suicidal women must be reviewed by six medics “an insult to women”
Officials from SIPTU, UNITE and Women’s Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions hand in letter to Leinster House calling on immediate action to legislate for the X Case. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Two large unions as well as the Irish Congress of Trade Unions have urged the Government not to delay further in legislating for abortion.
In a letter to the Taoiseach, Siptu, Unite and the women’s committee of Congress condemned the “failure of successive Governments to legislate for women’s human rights . . . in accordance with the Supreme Court judgment on the X-case”.
They also expressed concern that reported divisions in Government about the number of doctors who would have to review a suicidal woman may be used “to long-finger” or even “scupper legislation before the summer”.
Taryn Trainor, regional equalities organiser with Unite, said that while thousands of women travelled from Ireland to Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands for abortions every year, many more were unable to due to cost, disability or illness.
“The current situation therefore not only discriminates against women but further discriminates against different groups of disadvantaged women. As a trade union we cannot accept a situation where the lives of our members continue to be put at risk because of a failure to legislate.”
Sinéad Kennedy, spokeswoman for Action on X, said the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar underlined the “degree of urgency” about legislation.
“Legislation for X could have saved her life. The X case ruling states that the risk to a woman’s life does not have to be ‘immediate or inevitable’ for abortion to be legal and incoming legislation must, as a minimum, reflect that.”
She described as “outrageous” and “akin to putting a woman on trial” reports, if true, that a woman who was suicidal would have to go before six medical experts to be assessed.
She said it would be impractical and contrary to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the A,B,C case, that “effective and accessible” healthcare was a human right.
if she was concerned that the reported divisions in Government could now delay publication of legislation, she said: “I would be and I would be concerned some members of Fine Gael would like that exactly to happen, that this would be put off again and even scupper legislation before the summer. That cannot be allowed to happen.”
Ann Irwin, policy officer with the National Women’s Council, also said such a requirement for suicidal pregnant women to be assessed by six doctors would not meet the obligations under the A,B,C judgment and would be “an insult to women”.