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Irish pro-life and pro-choice groups react to landmark US Roe v Wade abortion ruling

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Dr Ailbhe Smyth. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Dr Ailbhe Smyth. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Anti-abortion demonstrators celebrate outside the US Supreme Court in Washington today following the overturning of the landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision. Photo: Reuters/Michael Mccoy

Anti-abortion demonstrators celebrate outside the US Supreme Court in Washington today following the overturning of the landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision. Photo: Reuters/Michael Mccoy

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Dr Ailbhe Smyth. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Pro-life and pro-choice groups in Ireland have both reacted strongly to the landmark Roe v Wade abortion ruling in the United States.

The US Supreme court made its ruling today which overturned the 1973 ruling that recognised a woman's constitutional right to an abortion and legalised it nationwide.

The judgement has handed a momentous victory to Republicans and religious conservatives in the US who want to limit or ban the procedure.

The court, in a six-three ruling powered by its conservative majority, upheld a Republican-backed Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks.

The justices decided that the Roe v Wade decision that allowed abortions performed before a foetus would be viable outside the womb - between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy - was wrongly decided because the US Constitution makes no specific mention of abortion rights.

Mississippi's law had been blocked by lower courts as a violation of Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights.

The Irish Pro Life Campaign described the ruling as a “momentous development for the right to life”.

The campaign’s spokesperson Eilís Mulroy said: “It means that for the first time in almost 50 years, it is possible once again to legally protect unborn babies in the United States.”

“Since the Roe v Wade decision in 1973, there have been over 60 million legal abortions performed in the US.

"Such a shockingly tragic figure cannot be explained away by simply repeating the ‘right to choose’ mantra. It calls for something much deeper and reflective.

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“The overturning of Roe v Wade is going to be misrepresented and attacked in the coming days.

"Of that there is little doubt. But overtime I believe it will have a significant impact, not just in the US but also on the debate here in Ireland, resulting in many people questioning the new abortion regime that exists in this country, in a way that hasn’t happened before now,” she added.

However the Irish Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) condemned the US Supreme Court decision.

ARC spokesperson Darina Murray said abortion bans “disproportionately affect marginalised people such as migrants and people of colour”.

“This is not an isolated or sudden incident - this is the culmination of a decades-long quest from anti-abortion groups to erase reproductive rights. We must resist the erosion of our hard-won rights at every turn - in the USA, in Ireland, and across the globe,” she said.

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Dr Ailbhe Smyth. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Dr Ailbhe Smyth. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Dr Ailbhe Smyth. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Meanwhile, Repeal the Eight campaigner Dr Ailbhe Smyth told Independent.ie that today’s ruling is “appalling”.

Dr Smyth said described it as a “terrible onslaught on women’s basic human rights and their freedoms and justice”.

“It is an attack on freedom and justice and human rights as a whole.

"My thoughts go immediately to all of the stress that so many women must be feeling at the moment in the US because they do need an abortion and will be desperate to know how that is going to be achieved,” she said.

“Many millions more will be thinking what this can mean for women’s rights in the US, that there can be such a full, direct attack on bodily integrity.”

Dr Smyth said while she does not think today’s ruling will have any significant consequences in the Irish context, it could have implications for other countries.

“I don’t have a direct concern for a US impact on Ireland but I do have a concern for those countries where abortion is not yet legal, where it is completely prohibited or is very highly restricted, and this has repercussions for the safety and the security of women,” she added.

“We do know that a very large number of women do sadly continue to die because of unsafe abortions every year.

"The US is sending a signal which is very dismissive of women’s rights and therefore of women’s wellbeing and women’s safety. This is a hugely disturbing message to have coming from one of the most powerful countries in the world.”


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