X case legislation 'most restrictive'
The Government decision to legislate for the X case will still leave Ireland with one of the most restrictive abortion regimes in the world, according to Choice Ireland, a feminist pro-choice organisation.
Abigail Rooney said the legislation would likely “only affect a tiny proportion of the thousands of Irish women who terminate their pregnancies every year for a multitude of valid reasons”.
Ms Rooney also highlighted the differences between Ireland and Britain and said the UK legislation “allows for abortion in cases where there is a grave risk of physical or mental injury to a woman” and that “injury as opposed to death is the crucial difference”.
Ailbhe Smyth of the Action on X organisation said any legislation had to acknowledge that a risk to suicide because of unwanted pregnancy as determined by health professionals was grounds for abortion in Ireland. It had to make clear “that preservation of the woman’s life is prioritised in any clinical assessment on the need for a termination of pregnancy”.
Ms Smyth said Article 43.3 of the Constitution was the source of inequality of access to medical treatment between women and men, because women were denied access to treatment – abortion – to protect their health, whereas men faced no legal denials to any treatment.
She called for an end to this discrimination, a repeal of article 43.3 and for legislation to end this inequality.
Orla O’Connor of the National Women’s Council of Ireland said the legislation had to provide for regulations that “allow for a practical assessment by doctors and women of a real and substantial risk to the life of the pregnant woman”.
She said women who sought counselling for options in a crisis pregnancy “are terrified of the possibility of going to jail and feel like a criminal and feel that in even accessing lawful information services, they may be doing something criminal”.
It was the council’s view that “abortion must be decriminalised if the legislation plus regulation approach is to be accessible and effective and to remove the shame, stigma and discrimination that women in Ireland have to endure as a result of these criminal provisions”.