One woman per day is still traveling from Ireland to England for abortion despite legislation three years ago liberalizing Irish abortion laws. Just one in every 10 family doctors in Ireland provides abortion services.
The details are contained in a report from the National Women’s Council of Ireland to coincide with the third anniversary of the repeal of the Eighth Amendment which liberalized abortion laws in Ireland.
The report highlights ongoing difficulties for women who are beyond 12 weeks gestation having to travel abroad.
It says, “Only one in 10 GPs is providing abortion services. Although GPs who provide medical abortions are very committed, coverage remains a significant barrier.”
Of the 3,496 general practitioners practicing in Ireland, only 385 provide abortion services.
The report states that just 10 maternity hospitals and units are still offering acute abortion services.
Abortion services are free for women in Ireland. GPs are reimbursed €450 per pregnancy termination, which includes three appointments, and pre and post-care.
Orla O’Connor, director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, told RTE that “women’s experiences need to lead this review” into abortion services that the government is due to carry out in the autumn.
She said an expert in reproductive healthcare should be the author of the review. She maintained that it is harder for women in rural areas to access abortion services.
The 12-week limit was also problematic, as many women don’t realize they’re pregnant until they are around 10 weeks pregnant.
She added, “I think the Irish public don’t want a situation where women are forced to travel.”
Niall Behan of the Irish Family Planning Association said that three years after the referendum Ireland has a law that is progressive in many ways, but the 2018 Act contained serious flaws.
The August review, which will be overseen by the Department of Health, will comprise a three-part approach, appraising the operation of the act with strands focussing on service users, service providers, and a public consultation.
*This column first appeared in the May 26 edition of the Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.