As appeared in Letters – The Kerryman – 10 September 2014 edition.

Over the past few decades an unknown number of Chinese women have been forced to have abortions. This is because the Chinese government has a strict one-child policy. It is rightly condemned as a barbaric practice. We all agree women deserve better than this.

When the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act passed last year, I imagined Ireland was going to treat women better. I was wrong. Women can now be forced to continue with pregnancies they wish to end. They can be threatened with force-feeding and pressured into consenting to major surgery. Don’t women deserve better than this?

Why do some women in Ireland now face forced births? Is it simply the result of bad legislation? Is it because our politicians are too cowardly to offend the people who favour forced births? Or is it because they don’t think women deserve any better?

All law concerning women’s reproductive health has since 1983, been subject to the Eighth Amendment. No one under 49 years old has been offered the opportunity to remove that Amendment. Not a single woman of reproductive age has been able to vote on the Constitutional Amendment which limits their access to reproductive care. Surely those women deserve better?

If our politicians remain steadfast in their cowardly refusal to address the Eighth Amendment they could at least seek to reduce the harm caused by the resultant legislation. We now know that only girls and women in poverty or in the care of the State are unable to travel to the UK for abortions. The government has it within its power to ensure no woman is denied an abortion because of financial straits or citizenship issues.

It is the very least that women deserve from a government who refuses to offer them a genuine choice.

Kerryman 10-09-14

 

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