The painting over of Maser’s Repeal the 8th mural on the Project Arts Centre after a handful of complaints was symbolic of the systematic pushing under the carpet of the facts about Irish women and abortion. Here are just some of them…
the number of women who travelled from Ireland to the UK for an abortion in 2015, an average of 12 per day.
the number of women who women traveled to the UK to have abortions due to congenital conditions, many of which would have been fatal. Former Minister for Health Leo Varadkar admitted that Ireland’s abortion law forces women to carry to term pregnancies that have “no chance of survival for long outside the womb, if at all.”
Ireland has the one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the European Union. Malta, where abortion is banned in all circumstances, is the only member state where abortion laws are more restrictive.
Just under half (45%) of all the abortions involving women from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland take place in Manchester clinics.
“It is not surprising that many opt for Manchester, as it’s geographically close and can be quicker and cheaper to get to than some other cities in England.” – Genevieve Edwards, director of policy at Marie Stopes UK.
Many women from the Republic arrive at the Belfast Marie Stopes clinic thinking they can get an appointment on the same day, but this is not the case. Abortions are only available in Northern Ireland if a woman’s life is at risk or where there is a risk of a serious and adverse effect on her physical or mental health which is either long term or permanent. The punishment is life imprisonment for anyone who unlawfully performs a termination.
“The Northern Ireland and Irish governments don’t mind women having abortions just as long as they’re not here in Ireland.” – Northern Ireland Amnesty campaigner, Grainne Teggart.
abortion pills were seized by Irish Customs in 2014 (more than double the amount seized in 2013). Any woman or girl who procures an abortion, or anyone who assists a women to procure an abortion in Ireland, outside the confines of the current legislation, can be criminalised and imprisoned for up to 14 years.
The number of girls aged under 16 who had to travel from Ireland to the UK for abortions in 2015. Between 2010 and 2014, 13 girls aged 14 and 49 girls aged 15 were among the people having abortions in Marie Stopes Clinics.
Many anti-choice organisations impersonate crisis pregnancy support agencies who will try and persuade women to carry on with the pregnancy and even ‘under scan’ them so that when they come for treatment with a clinic, they are over the legal limit and cannot proceed with treatment.
Irish women can pay anything up to this amount for an abortion in the UK, not including travel and accommodation, or costs for a companion, should they be going under General Anaesthetic. The majority of Irish women pay for their abortions in cash. A lot of women will borrow and often will use a number of different cards from different friends and relatives at ATMs in England when paying for their treatment.
The number of Irish women who had abortions because of a principal medical condtion in 2015.
Irish women and girls who attended Rape Crisis Centres in 2013 were pregnant as a result of rape. 25% of these survivors went on to terminate the pregnancy, meaning they either had to travel for an abortion or illegally take abortion pills in Ireland.
Marie Stopes has lowered the pre-treatment medical assessment cost (Abortion Consultation) to €45 from €100 so just in case a woman cannot proceed with treatment she is not losing out on such a significant amount of money.
Travel and Booking
A team of specialist advisors who work with Marie Stopes Irish clients when they book an appointment, helping find flights and accommodation availability. 1,576 women used Marie Stopes’ services in 2015.
Marie Stopes offers free/complimentary taxis to pick Irish women up from the airports/ferry ports and drive them to the nearest clinic and take them back to the airport/ferry port.
There is and unlimited over-the-phone and face-to-face counselling for anyone who comes to Marie Stopes for treatment.
The volunteers and staff of Abortion Support Network (abortionsupport.org) work on a case by case basis to support Irish women through raising funds to help pay for their treatment in England.
This piece first appeared in GCN 321, September 2016. You can read it online here.
© 2016 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.