Irish women ‘still being forced abroad for abortions’ despite new laws
TD Ruth Coppinger told the Dail women were still facing difficulties accessing services despite the outcome of the referendum last year.
Some pregnant women with foetal abnormalities are still being forced abroad to access abortion services, the Dail has heard.
Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger told the Dail that a young woman was refused a termination in recent weeks after receiving a severe foetal diagnosis.
Ms Coppinger said women were still facing difficulties accessing services despite the outcome of the abortion referendum last year.
“There’s worrying signs that the very women whose stories resonated through the country are still being forced abroad,” Ms Coppinger said.
“A number of women have contacted my office and three of them have had to go to England for terminations for medical reasons.”
I just raised the case of a woman who had to travel for a termination following a diagnosis of Edward's syndrome despite #repealthe8th. Culture in the hospitals & inadequacy in the law causing this. Taoiseach evaded it by raising disability! #dubw #LQs— Ruth Coppinger TD (@RuthCoppingerTD) February 19, 2019
She said in the latest case she had been contacted by a woman, who she called Mary, who had been refused an abortion, despite a possible diagnosis of Edwards Syndrome, because she was over 12 weeks’ pregnant.
Ms Coppinger said the complications had been discovered when the woman had a scan at Portiuncula Hospital in Co Galway.
“She was told there was only a 15% chance of delivery and the baby might live an hour or so but the doctor then said, for whatever reason, they could not do anything because it was over 12 weeks,” she said.
She added that Mary was handed the names of three hospitals in England and that Mary had told her she had been treated “like a leper”.
The woman travelled to England with her husband for a termination.
“As Mary said to me, ‘I would lose my head if I had to continue this pregnancy but Ireland will do nothing for me’,” Ms Coppinger said.
“All the women who’ve contacted (me) have individual situations but they all have something in common. They voted last May never knowing they were going to face this situation and all of them thinking that if they did they would be cared for.”
Ms Coppinger questioned Leo Varadkar over the distinction between fatal and severe abnormalities.
The Taoiseach said the distinction was discussed at length in the Oireachtas and it was decided that disability would not be grounds for a termination but that fatal abnormalities would be.
“A severe abnormality is very often a disability and that is a decision that we made as a house that we would make that distinction and that disability would not be a ground for terminations after 12 weeks,” he said.
He also said abortion was a private matter and that no woman or doctor should be subject to intimidation.
“No woman seeking this service, or doctor or midwife, or nurses, or anyone else involved in providing it, should be subject to intimidation in the course of their work or seeking to avail of what is now a legal health service in Ireland,” he said.
Mr Varadkar added that there were now 274 GPs across the country who had singed up to provide terminations in early pregnancy and 10 maternity hospitals providing services.
He said between 10 and 14 women ended their pregnancies each day.