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'A historic moment in Ireland, but not one to be celebrated' - reaction to the passing of the abortion bill

While the passing of abortion legislation has been widely welcomed, the Pro-Choice lobby has raised concerns about the scope and implementation of the bill.

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THE PRO-CHOICE lobby has roundly welcomed the passing of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, but pressed the Government not to stop there.

The bill was passed in the Dáil last night, by a margin of 127 to 31, but many pro-choice groups are hoping that the bill is just the first step.

Orlaith Reidy of Galway Pro-Choice said that although the legislation was to be welcomed, it was ‘ineffective’.
“Forcing women who are suicidal to face panels of between 3 to 7 medical professionals is such an ordeal in itself that women entitled to a legal abortion here will continue to travel abroad, rendering the legislation ineffective.

There is also no provision to ensure those against terminations in all circumstances cannot sit on these decision making panels raising the possibility of a woman not being granted a termination regardless of her case including if there is a genuine risk to her life.

Choice Ireland spokesperson Sineád Ahern said that the bill would not be a long term solution as long as the Eighth Amendment, which places a constitutional ban on abortion, was in place.

“As long as the Eighth Amendment is in place doctors will be forced to make the dangerous and inhumane distinction between a threat to health and a threat to life.

As long as the Eighth amendment is in place thousands of Irish women will continue to travel. We are calling on the government to now begin the work of repealing the Eighth Amendment and ensure that these women can be cared for at home.

The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) said that the bill is ’21 years overdue’.  ARC spokesperson Sarah Malone said that the criminal penalties in the bill could force women not to seek help.

“Because of the criminal penalties outlined in the Bill, a doctor may once again refuse to provide a life saving abortion because of potential legal sanctions against them. This Bill lacks the clarity to earn its name.”

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams called on the Government to ensure the full implementation of the bill.

“It has taken 21 years to secure the passing of this legislation. It is long overdue.

The onus is firmly on the government to ensure that all of the necessary resources and commitments contained in this bill are implemented in full.

All pictures; Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

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