• Press Release

4,000 women and girls abandoned by the Irish State every year

August 6, 2015

Ireland must repeal the 8th amendment – Amnesty International global delegates call for change

Today in Dublin, Amnesty International activists from around the world staged a protest against Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws outside the Department of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister). Delegates brought 80 suitcases to signify the number of Irish women and girls who travel abroad each and every week to access a safe and legal abortion.

Their reasons for seeking an abortion vary; some are survivors of rape, some are carrying a fetus with a severe or fatal impairment, some have serious health conditions, some make the decision for economic or other reasons. But all of them are left with no option other than to travel to another jurisdiction.

Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O’Gorman said:

“Every year 4,000 Irish women and girls travel abroad for an abortion. Since 1971, at least 177,000 women and girls have had to leave Ireland to seek an abortion. The true figure may in fact be higher but this is a staggering number.

“These are women who were effectively exiled from their country and healthcare system. They had to steal away in secret, often alone and afraid to access a health service that should be available to them by right. Irish law treats abortion where the woman’s life is not at risk as a crime, yet women are given a constitutional freedom to travel abroad to commit and act that would be a criminal offence if committed at home. This is quite simply, rank hypocrisy. Amnesty International’s June report, She is Not a Criminal, documented the distressing of those for whom travel is simply not an option and who resort to methods of self-induced abortions.

“Ireland can no longer ignore the suffering of its women and girls. A Red C poll commissioned by Amnesty International and published in July shows that people in Ireland appreciate the hardship of travel. Only one in five thought travelling abroad for an abortion is not especially traumatic for a woman. Ireland’s restrictive laws are preventing women from having abortions. An average of 80 women are having abortions every week outside this jurisdiction. Countless others are having illegal medication abortions in Ireland, without adequate medical supervision.

“There is no excuse for the outsourcing of Ireland’s human rights obligations and it cannot continue.

“Ireland must repeal the 8th amendment to its Constitution and legislate for safe and legal abortions in Ireland, at a minimum, on the grounds specified in international human rights law, namely in the cases of rape, incest, risk to the health of the woman or girl, or severe and fatal fetal impairment. This is a debate Ireland needs to have. The 177,000 women it has sent away deserve nothing less.”