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August 13, 2018 | by  | in VUWSA | [ssba]


Last week Ella and I went to attend a talk by the Irish Honorary Consul-General, Niamh McMahon, about Ireland’s experience with abortion reform.
Since 1861, abortion has been illegal in Ireland, as for centuries in Ireland, there has been little separation between the Church and the State. In 1983, pro-life activists became worried that the Irish Constitution didn’t do enough to protect the lives of unborn babies.

This eventually led to the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland, which effectively gave equal rights to the mother and unborn child.
Niamh recalled a number of horrific stories that occurred in Ireland in the 80s and 90s. Women could not get an abortion in Ireland, and were forced to extreme measures to avoid shame within their communities. Those who could afford it would travel to the U.K. to get an abortion – a practice still happening today. Some women even killed their babies following birth to avoid the shame and stigma.

A catalyst for change was “Case X” in 1992. A 14-year-old girl became pregnant as a result of rape by a neighbour. She was not allowed to get an abortion in Ireland, nor was she allowed to travel to the U.K. for an abortion. However, the Supreme Court ultimately decided the girl could travel to get an abortion after it was revealed the girl had suicidal thoughts. The case caused an immense stir in Ireland.

On 25 May 2018, Ireland held a referendum asking voters if they wanted to repeal the Eighth Amendment, and allow the government to legislate on terminations. A convincing 67% of people voted yes, and 33% voted no. There is a Bill currently going through Parliament that will allow women to terminate pregnancy up to 12 weeks, “no questions asked”.

In NZ, abortion is legal in situations where the pregnant woman faces a danger to her life, physical or mental health, or if there is a risk of the fetus being handicapped in the event of the continuation of pregnancy. In all other circumstances, abortion is considered a crime in NZ.
It is ironic that Ireland will soon have more progressive abortion laws than NZ. Something to think about?


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