Independent Media Centre Ireland

Back street abortions illustrate need for free, safe and legal abortion services in Ireland

category dublin | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Thursday July 08, 2004 19:12author by Niav - Alliance For Choiceauthor email allianceforchoice at yahoo dot comauthor address

News report about Gardai investigations into back street abortions in Ireland from a memeber of Alliance For Choice.

The gardai are investigating two illegal back street abortions that were carried out in Dublin in the last two months. In one case a Romanian woman in her late 20s is believed to have paid a Moldovan woman 500 euros to terminate her pregnancy. An apartment in Blackhall Place has been searched and medical equipment and anaesthetic chemicals have been found. In the second case, a Dublin maternity hospital contacted the gardai after a woman in her early 20s and from the Philippines was admitted following complications that arose from a back street abortion.

Back street abortions are not a new phenomenon in Ireland and between 1926 and 1974 there were at least 58 recorded prosecutions under the 1861 Offences against the Persons Act. However, since the 1967 Abortion Act in Britain, back street abortion had ceased to be a major problem in Ireland as many Irish women travelled to the UK to terminate a pregnancy. Between January 1980 and December 2002, over 105,000 Irish women terminated a pregnancy in the UK. Since 1967, 5 women are known to have died from back street abortions in Northern Ireland.

However, because women have to leave this country to terminate a pregnancy, the financial strain is considerable. It will cost approximately €1000. A surgical abortion cost £460 sterling. Women also have to cover the cost of travelling by plane or by ferry as well as accommodation costs. Raising this money can be incredibly difficult especially for students, asylum seekers and those in low paid jobs. When women are unable to raise this money they have no option but to resort to perform an abortion by themselves or seek someone to perform the procedure for them. Back street abortions cause the deaths of about 70,000 women every year world wide.

In response to today’s media reports, the pro-life group, Youth Defense have accused the National Union of Journalists as a pro-abortion group. They claim that the back street abortions never took place and have been invented and hyped up by the Irish media in order to create a false need for abortion.

Whether the Irish State, Catholic Church and Pro-Life groups like to admit it, abortion is very much a reality for women in Ireland. Despite the difficulties Irish women face with the ban on abortion and the restrictions on information about abortion services in Ireland, approximately 7000 Irish women every year choose to terminate a pregnancy.

‘Alliance For Choice’ is a diverse group of pro-choice activists who are campaigning for free, safe and legal abortion services in Ireland. This involves:
·Campaigning for the repeal of Articles 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861.
·Campaigning for a referendum to delete the 8th Amendment. The 8th Amendment “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right”.
·Campaigning for the 1995 Information Act to be deleted so that women can obtain information with anonymity and ease. We also want the regulation of all pregnancy-counselling agencies.

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