We finally have a campaign underway dealing with this matter.
The Discriminatory Nature of Ireland’s Abortion Ban
On a daily basis IFPA counsellors witness how a woman’s age, her mental capacity, and her other life circumstances affect her decision whether to carry a pregnancy to term and her ability to do so. Yet, the laws restricting abortion disregard all such factors.
Refugee, Asylum Seeking and migrant women
Women who are refugees, asylum seekers or unregistered migrants face particularly difficult challenges in travelling for an abortion resulting in increased delay, expense, unnecessary hardship and stigma. Refugees or asylum seekers who wish to travel to England for abortion services must apply to the Department of Justice for a visa to re-enter the country. This process is time-consuming and burdensome.
Women often need assistance to negotiate through the bureaucratic visa process with State authorities; for example, needing help to expedite requests, find translation services, and fax documents from a private fax. Apart from the severe burden that the uncertainty of this process imposes upon women, the fees and cost of travel to Dublin add an additional financial burden on refugee or asylum seeker women who are often surviving on state grants of only 19.50 per week.
For migrant women who do not have a work permit or refugee or asylum seeker status, this process of applying for permission to travel can be impossible and can jeopardise their right to be in Ireland. Women may resort to illegal abortion providers or attempt to travel without legal documentation. In the past year the Garda Siochana have found evidence of a return to illegal, unsafe abortion not seen since the early 1950’s.
Women on Low Income
Women on low income are particularly adversely impacted by the ban on abortion. Women living in poverty who are holders of valid medical cards issued by the Health Services Executive are entitled to free health care service for all medical services other than abortion. The IFPA sees a great many women who seek counselling assistance not because they are uncertain about their options but because they are in need of financial assistance. Many women experiencing poverty turn to moneylenders who charge extortionate rates for short-term loans to cover the cost of abortion and required travel.
For young women the experience of travel itself can be very difficult or intimidating. They have increased difficulties raising funds and often remain isolated because they fear telling anyone about their situation. Sometimes young women are accompanied to counselling by a parent or other relative or a friend. However, many young women travel without first seeking counselling or informing anyone that they are leaving the country. Young women in particular often do not feel comfortable consulting their family doctor or general practitioner (“GP”) for fear they will be judged for being pregnant or considering abortion or that their confidentiality will be breached.
Those women who have Irish citizenship but who lack a passport or driver’s license face additional difficulties travelling. To seek a passport on an expedited basis requires a woman to disclose that she is travelling to seek an abortion, a disclosure that often remains in her file at her local passport office.
Women in Care or in the Control of the State
Those in care or in the control of the state face additional barriers in accessing services abroad. (Expand).