Wednesday, 15 December 2021
Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) (Foetal Pain Relief) Bill 2021: Second Stage [Private Members]
What is Fianna Fáil playing at? Here we have a Bill from a group of right-wing Deputies who supported the de facto abortion ban, a policy which forced hundreds of thousands of Irish women to travel abroad for healthcare, and who are trying to copy the playbook of the Trumpian right in the United States who are trying to undermine Roe v.Wade. The Deputies want to roll back the gains made by women in 2018 when the country voted to repeal the eighth amendment. A Fianna Fáil Deputy has co-signed the Bill and is backing up these reactionary arguments without facing any censure or disciplinary action from his party.
More important, we have a Fianna Fáil Minister for Health trying to narrow the three-year review of the legislation and shut out the voices of women who have real issues with the way the Act operates in practice. I am talking about women who rightly feel the three-day wait provision is deeply patronising and who will make more significant decisions in their lives without having to wait three days. Those women also find a powerful point of support for their point of view in no less an organisation than the World Health Organization. I am talking about pregnant people who ask why it is the case that 12 weeks is equal to 12 weeks plus six days in matters generally relating to pregnancy but 12 weeks plus zero days in this case. I am talking about reviewing the question of access to the new services. Why do only one in ten GPs provide the service? Why do nearly half our public hospitals not provide the service? How do we provide safe access and prevent the ongoing intimidation of women accessing services?
Abortion on the grounds of severe foetal anomaly remains criminalised. This needs to be reviewed and changed. To be clear, I support a woman's right to choose and am in favour of removing a far broader layer of restrictions, but if there is to be a review, it should not be narrow. It should deal with the real-life experience of pregnant people in accessing the new services over the past three years and it should be an external, transparent and woman-centred review.