Abortion committee to meet to discuss allegations of bias
Committee told Irish women are having terminations later due to travel difficulties
Senator Rónán Mullen, Mary Kenny from Limerick, and Independent TD Mattie McGrath lead a protest alleging pro-choice bias in the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
The Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment will hold a private meeting today to discuss allegations of bias made against the committee.
Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy requested the discussion after two members of the committee claimed the outcome of their work was pre-determined.
The Irish Times understands the meeting will outline the efforts made to ensure a balance in the witness list and the distribution of time between members of the committee.
In the public hearings, Dr Patricia Lohr of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service will advise the committee Irish women are having terminations later in their pregnancy because of the difficulties in accessing travel.
Dr Lohr said Irish women who travel to the United Kingdom must have abortions performed surgically because they aim to fly in and out of the UK within a day. “Effectively, this means that women from Ireland are in all practical senses denied a choice of method in abortion.”
Last year 3,625 women were recorded in the annual abortion statistics produced by the Department of Health in England as having given an Irish address when they presented for treatment. This is a fall from 4,600 in 2008.
Of Irish women who receive abortion care in the UK, 70 per cent are married or with a partner. Nearly half have are already mothers
The committee will be advised a third of abortions for women from the Republic of Ireland are performed at 10 weeks and over. This means two-thirds of women are presenting later in pregnancy because of the time it takes to organise travel.
Fatal foetal abnormalities
A number of women also seek terminations after 20 weeks because fatal foetal abnormalities only appear after a 20-week scan.
Of Irish women who receive abortion care in the UK, 70 per cent are married or with a partner. Nearly half have are already mothers.
Dr Lohr said: “There is little difference between the reasons why women from Ireland present compared to those from the UK – they will be diverse and multifaceted, involving financial hardship, knowledge that her family is complete, inadequate partner or family support, domestic violence, or simply feeling they are not in the position to care for a baby at that point in their lives.”