Anti-abortion group launches billboard campaign ahead of three-year review

Independent expert due to review Ireland’s abortion legislation this year

Members of The Life Institute  present their  national anti-abortion billboard campaign outside Dáil Eireann . Photograph: Damien Eagers

Members of The Life Institute present their national anti-abortion billboard campaign outside Dáil Eireann . Photograph: Damien Eagers

 

Members of the anti-abortion organisation The Life Institute gathered outside Dáil Éireann on Thursday morning to launch a national billboard campaign ahead of a review.

Some 30 billboards have been erected nationwide by the Life Institute, with plans for more.

An independent expert is to review Ireland’s abortion laws three years after the country voted in a landslide referendum to allow terminations in certain circumstances.

The upcoming review of the Termination of Pregnancy Act “must rethink the abortion regime established since the 8th was repealed,” Megan Ní Scealláin, a member of the Life Institute said.

The campaigners said they took issue with and wanted to bring public attention to the number of abortions that have taken place in the State since the repeal of the Eighth amendment.

HSE figures show 6,666 abortions took place in Ireland in 2019, followed by 6,577 in 2020. In 2020, the vast majority of terminations – 6,455 – were carried out in early pregnancies of less than 12 weeks.

Of the other abortions, 20 were carried out due to a risk to life or health under the grounds, five due to a risk to life or health in an emergency situation, and 97 due to a fatal foetal anomaly.

The Life Institute said the billboards were central to a campaign urging TDs and the public to examine the number of abortions taking place.

Removing the current three-day waiting period to access abortion would be “a disservice to women, and a breach of promise to voters,” Ms Ní Scealláin said.

“Instead the review should be focused on introducing changes which can help women make positive choices, such as funding pregnancy support agencies, offering better support to single parents, and promoting a positive culture for mothers,” she said.

Meanwhile, the National Women’s Council of Ireland said the review was “a precious chance to tackle legal barriers to access, as well as a timely opportunity to consider how we can expand and enhance abortion care provision nationwide.”

“Not all those in need of support are able to access it due to significant gaps in geographical coverage and the restrictive nature of the legal text,” Alana Ryan, Women’s Health Coordinator said.

The NWC was calling for an extension to the 12-week limit, and an end to the three-day waiting period.