Tag Archives: irish family planning association

The Myth about Teenagers and Abortion

The Minister for Justice on a recent interview on Newstalk, was asked about the UN’s Economic & Social Council’s recommendation to have a referendum on abortion.

 

http://www.newstalk.com/Justice-Minister-says-her-priority-is-not-on-holding-an-abortion-referendum

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights report states that Ireland must reform it’s abortion laws, including having a referendum however the Minster stated that she thinks the focus should be on crisis pregnancies and lowering the number of teenage crises pregnancies.

The Minster said that doing so would take education on the matter, however it is Minster Frances Fitzgerald who needs to be educated, on how teenagers from Ireland who access abortion in the UK are the minority of the women who travel. These statistics are easily available, the Irish Family Planning Association has them up on their website. https://www.ifpa.ie/Hot-Topics/Abortion/Statistics

UK Department of Health Stastics 2014UK Department of Health Stastics 2014 Teenagers - 20 and over

Graphics by @jamesfbrophy

 

Teenagers made up less than 8% of women that travelled last year, and the numbers for the last 12 years show that teenagers have not been the majority.

 

2014

This is a myth which we must bust, that it is irresponsible young women who have abortions. When the facts are that no contraceptive method is 100% effective and the most recent statics from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service show that more than half of women (54%) who use their services (including women travelling from Ireland) have already given birth.

Even if we did have contraception which was 100% effective there would still be unintended pregnancies, as those who perpetuate sexual abuse do not check to make sure their victims are using contraception and no woman should have to be on contraception just encase they become a victim of sexual abuse.

Even if we could wave a magic wand and every pregnancy would be an intended pregnancy, there are still reasons why abortion maybe needed, due to the risks to a woman’s health not just her life and in cases of Fatal Fetal Abnormalities when a woman does not wish to continue the pregnancy.

We do need a referendum to Repeal the 8th amendment before we can bring in any Abortion Rights, so that women no longer have to travel to the UK, often being separated from family when they need support.

We do need education about all of the many reason’s why abortion is part of health care.

We do need education about how early access to abortion is best for women and the majority of abortions carried out in the UK are before 10 weeks, with the abortion pills which women should be able to access here via their GP.

We do need education to stop the spread of the absurd myth that it is mostly teenagers who access abortion services, esp by our Ministers.

 

 

The Myth about Teenagers and Abortion

The Minister for Justice on a recent interview on Newstalk, was asked about the UN’s Economic & Social Council’s recommendation to have a referendum on abortion.

 

http://www.newstalk.com/Justice-Minister-says-her-priority-is-not-on-holding-an-abortion-referendum

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights report states that Ireland must reform it’s abortion laws, including having a referendum however the Minster stated that she thinks the focus should be on crisis pregnancies and lowering the number of teenage crises pregnancies.

The Minster said that doing so would take education on the matter, however it is Minster Frances Fitzgerald who needs to be educated, on how teenagers from Ireland who access abortion in the UK are the minority of the women who travel. These statistics are easily available, the Irish Family Planning Association has them up on their website. https://www.ifpa.ie/Hot-Topics/Abortion/Statistics

UK Department of Health Stastics 2014UK Department of Health Stastics 2014 Teenagers - 20 and over

Graphics by @jamesfbrophy

 

Teenagers made up less than 8% of women that travelled last year, and the numbers for the last 12 years show that teenagers have not been the majority.

 

2014

This is a myth which we must bust, that it is irresponsible young women who have abortions. When the facts are that no contraceptive method is 100% effective and the most recent statics from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service show that more than half of women (54%) who use their services (including women travelling from Ireland) have already given birth.

Even if we did have contraception which was 100% effective there would still be unintended pregnancies, as those who perpetuate sexual abuse do not check to make sure their victims are using contraception and no woman should have to be on contraception just encase they become a victim of sexual abuse.

Even if we could wave a magic wand and every pregnancy would be an intended pregnancy, there are still reasons why abortion maybe needed, due to the risks to a woman’s health not just her life and in cases of Fatal Fetal Abnormalities when a woman does not wish to continue the pregnancy.

We do need a referendum to Repeal the 8th amendment before we can bring in any Abortion Rights, so that women no longer have to travel to the UK, often being separated from family when they need support.

We do need education about all of the many reason’s why abortion is part of health care.

We do need education about how early access to abortion is best for women and the majority of abortions carried out in the UK are before 10 weeks, with the abortion pills which women should be able to access here via their GP.

We do need education to stop the spread of the absurd myth that it is mostly teenagers who access abortion services, esp by our Ministers.

 

 

Survivors for Symphysiotomy address the UN #ICCPR

Yesterday I attended the Irish Council for Civil Liberties media green room for the appearance of Ireland in front of the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

IMAG2760IMAG2764IMAG2759

In the room were a number of groups which had sent in submissions to the Human Rights committees and who had people over in Geneva. Atheist Ireland, Pavee point, Irish Traveler Movement, Irish Family Planning Association I was there to support the spokesperson for the Abortion Rights Campaign and to live tweet from the room.

And what a room it was I found myself talking to several ladies who were there with the Sourvivors for Symphysiotomy. They were easy to spot, ladies of a certain age, turn out smartly for the day, all walking with that slow waddling gait which denotes what the barbaric procedure of symphysiotomy did to their bodies and which they live with every day. They were polite, cheery, hopeful and most of all determined.

IMAG2769

Over the course of the day, given where I was sitting several of the ladies asked were the toilets were, one of the issues they have to live with is that they have to make many trips to the loo, due to the damage done to their bodies. Given the room we were in the nearest toilets were either down stairs or a walk to the other side of the hotel. Both of which were a less then a 3 min stroll for me but for the survivors for symphysiotomy it is a much long trip. Also many of the survivors for symphysiotomy also can’t sit for very long due to the pain and constant discomfort they are in, most of them were not up to stay for the second half of the session.

As I was there to represent the Abortion Rights Campaign I was wearing my badge and when people were introducing themselves they said with org they were with. While I didn’t flinch I found myself worrying that some of the ladies would take it badly that I was there with ARC. But none of them turned a hair and a few of them were very supportive. It was lovely to chat with them, to have them say they are not giving up and we should not give up and to keep fighting; that for too long the Irish state and successive government have done wrong to generations of women in Ireland via the health services and lack there of.

I hope that these brave, brave women get the reparations and justice they are entitled to soon, before we loose more of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Abortion Activism

My abortion activism goes back about two decades at this stage, I used to write the Women’s Information Network’s illegal abortion information phone number 01 6794700 on the blackboards of the 6th year classrooms early in the mornings before anyone else was in.

Needless to say this caused uproar in the convent school I attended: when teachers and the head nun had an inkling it was me I was told to present myself at the office when I arrived each morning. They were going to use the absence of the number to prove it was me and someone else started chalking it on the black boards and it started to appear on the cubicle walls in the toilets in the school.

This was back before the 1992 referendum which made information related to abortion legal. I grew up in an Ireland were magazines were censored and so were UK phone books all over the country, long before it was possible to look up information on the internet. I have been pro choice having seen what family members went through in an Ireland which didn’t talk about miscarriage and treated unmarried mothers badly.

Even after the 1992 while information wasn’t censored, only drs and counselors were to give information to women who were looking for it and that is still the case to day. Before anyone could google B.P.A.S. and get information giving information verbally or a booklet or a photocopy could get you into legal hot water.

When I went to college I got even more involved in pro choice activism, I continued to act as an information point for women*. I had gotten my hands on a bunch of booklets “Traveling to Liverpool: a guide for Irish women” which were produced in 1994 and some activist training and would use them to help women, from teenagers to women in their 40s who didn’t know were to go, were too far away from the I.F.P.A. clinics and so would try their luck with the local college.

This was often a risky adventure, there were those in the college esp the college nurse who opposed me doing this, she was involved with the local Cura Branch and I had heard of other people who were giving out information that they would try and record me. If I wasn’t sure I would arrange to meet people and then accidentally leave behind pages with info on them after saying I could not help.

I also traveled with women over the years and if I didn’t travel with them checked in with them after wards, to make sure they took it easy, so many students who lived away from home during the week would travel and come back to digs or rented house and needed someone to make them tea and listen.

I remember the name of every person I helped back then and when they traveled and some for years later I would get a card or mostly an email to the address I had back then to say thank you or just to have someone who knew to communicate with. So many women edit out that time in their life from their narrative. They box it off don’t think about it, don’t talk about it ever, to anyone and go on to have partners and start families and it’s never mentioned. Not even when dealing with medical professionals in maternity hospitals.

Even after college it didn’t stop, I left an email address with certain people and they would refer people on but soon it was possible to search for information on the internet, but I still ended up being a point of contact and information and the same when I got involved in online communities, way before even bebo. Even in those places when I would talk about the topic in general women would contact me privately to share their stories.

My abortion activism has always been part of my sex education, contraception and Choice activism. I have passed on information on adoption and supports for being a single parent as well over the years but when there were so few places to get abortion information and support most of my first contact encounters over the year have been about abortion.

So many women over the years have shared their stories with me, easily close to 100,
but they would only be `not even .1 % of the 150,000 Irish women we have stats on who have traveled to the UK.

These days there is more information and support but hopefully the day will come when we don’t have to travel.

* I use the term women in my post not to be exclusionary, but as I have not yet knowingly had a transman talk to me about their story or approach me for information.

Helpful links if you need them.

www.ifpa.ie
www.positiveoptions.ie
www.bpas.ie
www.mariestopes.org.uk
www.abortionsupport.org.uk

IFPA launch Pearl of Wisdom Campaign for European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.

It is very important that if you have a cervix you should be getting a smear test.
Detection has gotten better and better over the year with abnormal and pre cancerous cells being successfully treated but the first step is getting tested and it’s free.

http://www.cervicalcheck.ie/

Freephone information line: 1800 45 45 55

Women aged 45-plus are less likely to have regular smear tests than younger women. That’s accoprding to the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), which launched the 2013 Pearl of Wisdom Campaign which highlights European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.

The Week runs from 20th to 26th January. It is aimed at promoting awareness of cervical cancer and encouraging women aged 25 to 60 to avail of free smear tests through CervicalCheck, the National Cervical Screening Programme.

Speaking at today’s launch, Dr. Caitriona Henchion, Medical Director with the IFPA, said the Association is putting a particular focus on women in the 45-plus age-bracket this year, as they are least likely to go for regular smears.

“The biggest risk factor for developing cervical cancer is not having had a smear test,” said Dr. Henchion. “In Ireland, all women between 25 and 60 can avail of regular free smear tests through CervicalCheck. However, statistics show lower proportions of women aged 45-plus are attending screening than of women in younger age-groups: attendance amongst those aged 45 to 60 is around 60 per cent, whereas the overall attendance figure is at 82 per cent. Attendance is highest amongst the youngest age-groups, and decreases gradually with increasing age.

“There are a number of reasons why women become less inclined to have regular smear tests as they get older. Some women are less likely to attend for smears once they stop having children, and women in this age-group also visit their doctor less frequently, so GPs and nurses have fewer opportunities to remind them about the importance of regular smears. However, cervical cancer can still be a major health risk for women at this stage of their lives. And the best way to prevent cervical cancer is to participate in regular screening. That’s a message we will be highlighting throughout the coming week.”

The Pearl of Wisdom is the international emblem of cervical cancer prevention and, as part of its activities this week, the IFPA will be distributing over 22,000 Pearl of Wisdom badges and information leaflets to women across the country through 200 participating pharmacists, Family Resource Centres, occupational health nurses and other health promotion networks.

Broadcaster Maura Derrane, who was present at today’s launch, spoke about the effectiveness of the Pearl of Wisdom emblem in raising awareness of cervical cancer.

“The Pearl of Wisdom campaign has been a great success at raising awareness of the very real dangers of cervical cancer,” she said. “However, it seems that, the older women get, the less likely they are to attend a screening. This needs to change.

“This week, I urge all women who haven’t had a smear test in the last three years to do so now. It’s free, it only takes a few minutes, and it could save your life.”

Each year, approximately 300 women in Ireland are newly diagnosed with cervical cancer and over 90 lives are lost. The average age of diagnosis is 45. According to the IFPA, regular cervical screening can stop cervical cancer before it starts.

Since CervicalCheck – the National Cervical Screening Programme – was launched in 2008, it has provided free smear tests to an average of 1,000 women per day, and some 830,000 women have had at least one free test under the programme.

Also commenting today, Dr. Philip Davies, Director General of the European Cervical Cancer Association (ECCA), said: “Looking at cervical cancer prevention across Europe, Ireland certainly ranks amongst the best. One of the most important aspects of a screening programme is making sure that all women aged 25 to 60 years are regularly taking part. In the first four years of CervicalCheck, almost 70 per cent of these women have been screened, and this is quite an achievement.”
Key Facts on Cervical Cancer

One of the biggest risk factors for developing cervical cancer is not having had a smear test.
Regular cervical screening stops cervical cancer before it starts.
All women aged between 25 and 60 can avail of a free smear test through CervicalCheck, the National Cervical Screening Programme.
99 per cent of cervical cancer cases are caused by persistent infection of certain high-risk types of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world and approximately 50 to 80 per cent of sexually active women contract some form of HPV at least once in their life. Only a small proportion will develop cervical cancer.
The HPV vaccine has been proven to be almost 100 per cent effective in preventing certain types of the virus that cause 70 per cent of all cervical cancer cases.
The CervicalCheck programme report of September 2008 to August 2010 highlights that almost 1.3 million CervicalCheck smear tests were processed and more than 830,000 women have had at least one free smear test.
Over 84 per cent of smear test results in that period were negative or normal. 13.9 per cent showed low grade abnormalities, while 1.7 per cent showed high-grade abnormalities. Abnormalities are pre-cancerous and are easily treatable.

About the IFPA

The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) is Ireland’s leading sexual health charity. The IFPA is the lead Irish member of the European Cervical Cancer Association and is a registered smear taker in the CervicalCheck programme. 19,000 women have been screened for cervical cancer at the IFPA’s two clinics in Dublin since the commencement of the national screening programme in 2008.

Virgin selling condoms in Ireland.

http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/blog/the-day-we-were-arrested-for-selling-condoms-in-dublin

The day we were arrested for selling condoms in Dublin

By Richard Branson –
Nov 19, 2012

When we were asked by the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) if we would let them sell condoms in our Dublin Virgin Megastore, we were happy to oblige. In May 1990 the IFPA were convicted for selling condoms in the Megastore and fined £400.

The IFPA appealed the conviction on Valentine’s Day 1991 and I testified on their behalf. On arriving late in Dublin, a policeman offered me an escort – and was shocked when I directed him straight to court! The judge increased the fine to £500 and warned future infringement could result in imprisonment. A certain rock band known as U2 stepped in to pay the fine.

It wasn’t until 1993 that laws restricting the sale of condoms in Ireland were overruled, while laws banning abortion are still in place. There are lots of groups, including the IFPA, still campaigning inside and outside of Ireland for sensible abortion laws.

I remember this, I also bought condoms in there, for myself and for friends. Chemists didn’t sell them unless you had a prescription from a dr. Condom vending machines were illegal, HIV/AIDS were a fact of life and still condoms were illegal here in except under very limited guidelines.

I remember when it became possible to by them and they had to sell them to anyone over the age of legal consent, but it was still a case of running the gauntlet and getting a very unwelcome reception in the chemist. Picking one in the city center or one which family and neighbors would not use and even then you could be left standing, for years condoms were strictly behind the counter and you had to ask for them.

And even then the assistant could say they had to check with the dispensing chemist I and certainly was a few times left standing, for anything from 20mins to a half hour, as it was clear they didn’t want to sell them to me and were hoping I would just leave.

Boots chemist changed that, condoms were on the floor of the shop, you could go and read the boxes and pick out what you wanted and mix them in with other purchases, for those reason alone they quickly became the place to go buy them where ever they opened up all over the country.

These days most pubs have condom machines in them, they are more available in a range of places all over the country. Attitudes have changed as well.
It’s seen a sensible to have them and not as immoral for women have have them.

These days I know I can go an buy a 2 for 3 offer on condoms and get 3 boxes of what I fancy with no one blinking an eye lid, compared to being treated like I had just asked for the head of the baby jesus and if I hung around long enough, I would eventually get them only when exiting the chemist to hear someone declare that I must be a Whore.

It was 19 years ago, in 1993 the laws changed, took longer for attitudes to change, but I am for ever thankful for the work the IFPA have done over the years and for people like Richard Branson and those who ran the stall in the Dublin Virgin Megastore for being so brave and bold.