Words: Eva O’Beirne
To highlight the #UnfinishedBusiness of Repeal, the National Women’s Council invites all activists for a photocall at the Dáil today at 11:30.
On the fourth anniversary of Repeal the 8th, the National Women’s Council (NWC) have called on the Government to address the lack of nationwide abortion services which is severely impacting women and pregnant people’s access to care.
Only one in ten GPs are offering abortion care and not all of them are able to take referrals through My Options, the HSE’s unplanned pregnancy support service for the general public.
Only 11 out of 19 maternity hospitals are currently providing full abortion services in line with the law.
Research by Dr Lorraine Grimes and the Abortion Rights Campaign suggests service users are travelling considerable distances to access care – 30 per cent of survey respondents who have used the service since 2019 reported travel of four to six hours to access services.
Orla O’Connor, Director of NWC said on the findings: “We know that women and pregnant people from every single county in Ireland need abortions.”
“Four years on from Repeal, it’s not acceptable that the provision of care is so patchy and piecemeal, something which is particularly affecting rural areas. We need the Government to prioritise community-wide provision of abortion that allows for local, accessible care for all those who need it.”
“Significant challenges remain in the current provision of abortion services. This includes mandatory wait periods and a restrictive 12-week gestational limit on early medical abortion. Barriers are also linked to the narrow definition of fatal fetal anomalies and the ongoing criminalisation of doctors, contrary to WHO guidelines.”
There is a rural divide when it comes to abortion access, with provision strong in Cork, Galway and Dublin but a much less developed service offer elsewhere. A significant lack of abortion services exists in counties such as Mayo, Wexford, Westmeath, Longford and Carlow.
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