Abortion penalty of €1 proposed by People Before Profit

Draft Bill drawn up to ‘decriminalise abortion’ calls for fine instead of 14-year jail term

A Bill to introduce a €1 fine for having or assisting a woman in having an abortion is to be put before the Dáil by People Before Profit.

The proposal would replace the current legislation which allows for a penalty of up to 14 years in prison for procuring or assisting in obtaining an abortion in Ireland.

People Before Profit had previously attempted to table a Bill entirely deciminalising abortion but were advised that this would be unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.

At a press conference in Dublin, Bríd Smith said the €1 proposal, which will come before the Dáil on March 7th, was "not a joke or a stunt", but a "serious attempt to decriminalise abortion in the State and since we have been prevented from doing it outright . . . the €1 sanction is what we are proposing here today".


Ms Smith said the current “draconian and barbaric” legislation has a chilling effect on medical professionals who are fearful of supporting women seeking abortions.

Abortion activist Ailbhe Smyth said Ireland is under strict instructions from the United Nations and other international human rights bodies to introduce less punitive abortion legislation.

“This Bill highlights the difficultues that are caused by sentences of up to 14 years in prison for women who would seek an abortion and those who would help them,” she said.

Travel to Britain

She added that many women in Ireland cannot travel to Britain for an abortion because of economic or domestic reasons. “This Bill is drawing attention to the extreme distress that our abortion regime places women under.”

Campaigner Emma Hendrick said three women a day take abortion medication in Ireland. “Women that do take the abortion pill, and something goes wrong, are afraid to go to the doctor in case they might end up in prison,” she said.

Ms Smith said she expected the Bill to face strong opposition in the Dáil and to be defeated. But she said it will force TDs to either back the current possible 14-year penalty or to outline the sort of punishment they believe is appropriate.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barret said if Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil do agree to ease abortion laws, they are likely to replace them with very restrictive legislation which continues to criminalise women.

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin is an Irish Times journalist