Updated February 2019
The 8th has been repealed! Presumably ASN can close now?
Alas, no. While we are, of course, ABSOLUTELY THRILLED that the Irish voters voted to repeal the 8th amendment, and that President Higgins signed the 36th amendment into law, the law has a number of flaws that are likely to make provision difficult for certain groups of people.
Difficulties with the law include the following:
- The delay between calling your GP and the date of your first appointment
- A three day in law but a four day in practice “wait period” between the first appointment and second appointment, at which you will take the first set of medications and be given the second set to take home with you for home use.
- A possible extra appointment needed to get a scan if there is any question about gestation
- Retention of a prison sentence for performing an abortion outside the law, so that doctors may still worry about prosecution and interpret the legislation conservatively
- The fact that GPs and clinics will only administer abortion care to 9 weeks, with abortion beyond that point needing to take place in a maternity hospital
- No guarantees of access to care within the law, and no remedies where care is wrongfully delayed or denied
- A lack of clarity around what constitutes a fatal foetal abnormality, meaning that women are having to attend multiple appointments to “prove” the diagnosis is bad enough to obtain care
- Lack of provision for termination for life limiting conditions outside the unclear definition of fatal
- Provision only up to 12 weeks, with implementation that ensures delays in obtaining care (time between asking for the initial appointment and the appointment, medically unnecessary waiting time between first consultation and first medication, 24 to 48 hour wait between first medication and second medication, and, where deemed necessary for pregnancy dating purposes, a required scan).
- Extremely limited provision for anyone over 12 weeks’ gestation
Who will still need ASN?
People who fall outside of the provision in Ireland – because the first rule of abortion legislation is that it only ever restricts the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalised – in short, ASN’s clients. There are women and pregnant people who need abortion beyond 12 weeks, who fall through the cracks of legal provision or, for whatever reason, need to travel to England for abortion. About the 8th sets out clearly what kind of abortion travel is likely to still happen.
However we expect we will hear from:
- People who are beyond 12 weeks pregnant, or people who are close to 12 weeks but don’t have the time or ability to obtain to the numerous appointments required
- Vulnerable women, e.g. those in or escaping from abusive relationships who need more rapid treatment
- People who are beyond 9 weeks, which is as far into pregnancy as GPs and clinics will provide care, who do not have access to a maternity hospital where provision is provided post 9 weeks.
- People who are in Ireland illegally and therefore ineligible for care
- People with foetal diagnosis is that are not severe “enough” to access care in Ireland
- People who live so far away from their “closest” provider that it is less expensive for them to travel to England for one day rather than across Ireland three to four times
Does this mean ASN will need less money as you’ll be helping fewer people?
Once the Irish legislation and provision are in place, it does seem likely we will be helping fewer people from the Republic of Ireland. However, the majority of people we are helping will be more than 12 weeks into pregnancy, and/or people with pregnancies diagnosed with severe foetal anomalies. These are all the most expensive procedures. We also expect our clients to be more vulnerable, which will mean they have less funding to put towards their expenses.
ASN has also expanded our service to Malta and Gibraltar, so the fundraising continues!
One thing is for certain, ASN will be here, helping pregnant people from Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man (and maybe some other places in future!) for as long as it takes for them to be able to access legal abortion closer to home.
If you’d like to donate to help us keep doing our vital work, please do!