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Catholic Leader Rejects Ireland’s Band-Aid on Abortion Access

May 1, 2013

“The Irish government has done what was required of it by a 1992 Irish Supreme Court ruling and a 2010 European Court Human Rights decision, but that does nothing for the vast majority of those Irish women who seek abortions,” said Jon O’Brien, the Irish-born president of Catholics for Choice. “Prime Minister Enda Kenny took the line of least resistance, crafting a bill that does the minimum demanded by the courts. The ‘Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill’ is an insult to the thousands of women who, every year, are forced to travel overseas to access abortion services.

“As noted in the London Declaration of Prochoice Principles, women’s autonomy is the key to any abortion law worth its name:

Every woman should have the right to decide the future of her pregnancy according to her conscience, whatever her reasons or circumstances. A just society does not compel women to continue an undesired pregnancy.

“In addition,” O’Brien continued, “providing access to abortion services is a key part of the equation. It is reprehensible to force women to travel overseas to access abortion services:

Access to abortion is an integral part of women’s reproductive healthcare, and we believe in the right to receive this. Women need access to resources and services, including the counsel of the professionals, friends and family they choose to involve. Legal, political, social and economic changes are necessary to allow the exercise of reproductive choice, and a commitment to such changes is part of a commitment to choice.


“The Declaration concludes that to be prochoice is to be committed to the right of women to make their own reproductive decisions, to strive to create the conditions in which reproductive choice may be exercised and to advocate for legal frameworks that allow autonomous decision-making. This bill is not fit for this purpose. Irish women deserve more, far more.”