Saturday, 2 November 2013

No way to treat women

Today, we placed this ad in the Irish Times to urge the Irish government to stop washing its hands of the 4,000 women who have to travel to Britain to access abortion care every year. 
We have treated many thousands of women from Ireland since the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution banning abortion was passed in 1983.

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, which has still not come into force, will do nothing to help the women we see in our clinics every day. Irish women come to our clinics with their own very personal set of circumstances – from contraception failure on the eve of university to a serious problem being diagnosed with a much longed for pregnancy. But they are united in the fact that their lives and predicaments are wilfully ignored by the political establishment, which at the same time relies on Britain to ensure no-one has to live with the consequences of forcing women to bear children they feel unable to care for.

Because they have had to make the arrangements and find the funding for travel and treatment, their abortions are often carried out further into their pregnancies than those for women in England. Nearly a third of abortions for women from Ireland are carried out at 10 weeks and later, compared with just over a fifth of abortions for women from England. Abortion is an extremely safe procedure and much safer than childbirth, but the earlier it can be performed the lower any risk to women.

Banning abortion does not end it. Women will always find ways to end unwanted pregnancies – whether traveling to bpas or buying pills on the internet. Abortion is as much a fact of life for women in Cork as for women in Coventry or Carlisle. The women we see from Ireland are just like those from England – but made more desperate by the financial and emotional cost of having to travel. No politician, in a civilised country, should force women to make a journey abroad for abortion care. The decision alone is a tough enough journey.

bpas clinics provide the best of care – but women need clinics in Ireland. Until that happens we’re proud to help.