36 July-August  July-August  PB
orty years ago fractious and ill-
informed debate about the 8th
amendment of the Irish Constitution
was raging, ultimately leading to
adoption of a provision which valued
the rights to life of mother and the foetus which
depended on her for life, equally.
It read: “The State 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”.
After its repeal in 2018, the interruption of
pregnancy became legal provided it is carried out
under twelve weeks, in which case there is a
three-day waiting period; or where two medical
practitioners, having examined the pregnant
woman, are of the reasonable opinion formed in
good faith that there is a risk to the life, or of
serious harm to the health, of the pregnant
woman or where it is immediately necessary to
carry out the termination of pregnancy in order
to avert that risk; or where two medical
practitioners, having examined the pregnant
woman, are of the reasonable opinion formed in
good faith that there is present a condition
aecting the foetus that is likely to lead to the
death of the foetus either before, or within 28
days of, birth. Around 8000 abortions are carried
out annually.
However, a recent report from the Department
of Health, which surveyed 188 healthcare
workers, shows that there are still many objects
in the way of access to abortion care.
It notes that training makes providers more
confident; that multidisciplinary early abortion
services in acute settings tends to work well,
where they co-ordinate referral to hospital and
have dedicated consultant support; and that
trained midwife sonographers strengthen
The report also shows that there is still both
inadequacy and inequity of access to termination.
As one provider stated, it is a “postcode lottery
and some health professionals still see provision
of termination of pregnancy services as an
The report discusses the website MyOptions.
com, which explains the options oered to a
pregnant person in Ireland and provides a
helpline though it doesn’t arrange appointments
Five Years after the repeal of the 8th Amendment,
abortion is still not universally available in the Republic
By Ava Liange
or refer people to a GP which can stand in the way
of some people getting care, not knowing
whether or not their local GP will agree to perform
an abortion.
The study denounces a “postcode lottery” to
find providers of termination. The survey showed
that most respondents referred patients to large
maternity hospitals. There is a lack of resources
and providers in rural areas.
A recent Cabinet meeting was told that the
Government plans to increase from 11 to 17 the
number of Ireland’s 19 maternity sites that
provide termination of pregnancy services, by the
start of autumn.
Another important impediment to access to
termination is criminalisation of certain cases
and the lack of recognition for the complexity of
some cases, concerning sections 11 and 9 of the
termination regulations.
The three-day wait before a termination is an
impediment to a termination in particular for
working-class people, homeless people, and
other marginalised groups and can risk
convergence on the 12-week limit. Though it has
been disputed, the Irish Family Planning
Association claims of 447 clients who were
eligible for early abortion care and for whom the
outcome was known, 97.5 per cent went on to get
an abortion after the wait.
The report underlines the fact that no specific
guideline has been given to managers of
services when confronted with healthcare
workers using a conscientious objection. Some
workers are abusing their right to conscientiously
Aborti-on and on
object “with impunity.
The report recommends decriminalisation of
doctors, the removal of the mandatory three-day
waiting period, the introduction of a statutory
obligation on healthcare workers to refrain from
providing misleading information, extending the
12-week time limit for abortion without stated
reasons, under certain circumstances, and
guidance for conscientious objectors.
The main subversion of good access to
termination is that the necessity of providing this
service in Ireland is often not acknowledged,
perhaps reflecting religious and historical
sensitivities. People shouldn’t have to travel out
of their area to obtain healthcare: access to
abortion is about equality and safety, and
abortion’s necessity has to be translated into
Meanwhile the government says it could be the
new year before the Coalition agrees what
changes could be made to the termination law,
although it is possible that proposals could be
ready in the autumn. Green Party Ministers
support removal of the three-day waiting period
while some members of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael,
including apparently our conservative Taoiseach,
harbour concerns. There will be a free vote.
Hospital name Group Section 9 Section 11 Section 12 Notes
National Maternity Hospital Ireland East x x x
Regional Hospital Mulligar Ireland East x
Rotunda RCSI x x x MVA Clinic for TOP
Our Lady of Lourdes Drogheda RCSI x x
Coombe Dublin/Midlands x x
Cork University Maternity Hospital South/Southwest x x
University Hospital Waterford South/Southwest x x Mon-Fri Clinic
University Hospital Kerry South/Southwest
Providing OBGYN
appointed to
commence in Q4
Mayo University Hospital Sáolta x x
University Hospital Galway Sáolta x x
Sligo University Sáolta x x
University Maternity Hospital Limerick UL Hospitals x x x
X signals provision, Section 9 is mental health, Section 11 is risk of foetal death and Section 12 is termination under 12 weeks
GP termination contracts by county
May 2022 (Total = 412)


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