Words: Ellen Kenny
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has urged Ireland to reform several aspects of its current abortion laws.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee have raised concerns about Ireland’s current reproductive rights legislation in a review of Ireland’s human rights provisions.
The UN praised Ireland for repealing the Eighth Amendment and legalising abortion in 2018. However, the UN also criticised the actual abortion laws themselves. In particular, they expressed concern over the three-day waiting period and the lack of abortion services in some parts of Ireland.
Someone seeking an abortion must get official certification from a GP that confirms they are less than twelve weeks pregnant.
Once they are certified by a GP, the pregnant person must wait three days before they get the abortion. According to legislation, this is to ensure that the person is absolutely sure that they want an abortion.
If someone becomes more than twelve weeks pregnant during the waiting period, are no longer eligible for an abortion.
The United Nations recommended that the State review this provision, as they are concerned about the number of women forced to go abroad to get an abortion. 206 women from the Republic of Ireland travelled to Britain for an abortion in 2021. This is increase of ten compared to 2020.
The United Nations also expressed concerns about the “alleged low percentage” of GPs providing abortion services. Ten per cent of GPs nationally have opted into providing abortion services, and half of Irish counties have fewer than ten GPs who provide the service.
The United Nations said that this is limiting the service for “girls in vulnerable situations and rural communities.” They urged the Government to implement the necessary measures to ensure “rural women, women living in poverty, women with disabilities, asylum seekers, victims of domestic violence, and women from ethnic or religious minorities” can access abortions.
The UN also recommended that the Government remove other barriers to abortion. This includes current laws that state a person seeking an abortion due to fatal foetal abnormalities must be approved by two separate doctors.
These recommendations come from the UN just as the Government has approved legislation to introduce safe access zones. This legislation will ban anti-abortion protests within 100 metres of clinics and hospitals that offer abortion services.
The UN recommended the introduction of safe access zones to “prevent the stigmatisation and trauma of women and girls who seek abortion.”
Elsewhere on District: Government approves banning of anti-abortion protests outside hospitals