Well Woman response to Expert Group report

Well Woman response to Expert Group report

Dublin Well Woman Centre calls on Government to swiftly enact legislation which goes beyond narrowest interpretation of the X case and protect a pregnant woman’s health, as well as her life Urgent call follows today’s publication of report by the Expert Group on Abortion 27 November, 2012

The Dublin Well Woman Centre welcomes today’s publication by the Government of the report by the Expert Group on Abortion (27 November, 2012), and is now calling for the swift enactment of legislation which will ensure that a woman with a life-threatening illness can access a safe and legal termination in an Irish hospital.

The publication of today’s report offers the Government the opportunity to honour its obligation, and finally respond to the 2010 judgement by the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B and C cases as well as the 1992 Supreme Court judgement in the X Case.

However, Alison Begas, Chief Executive of the Dublin Well Woman Centre, stresses that no other country in Europe makes the distinction that currently exists in Irish law, in permitting abortion to save a woman’s life, but not to preserve her health.

She says that any legislation enacted needs to go beyond the narrowest interpretation of the X Case: “Some serious health complications in a pregnant woman, including heart disease, pulmonary diseases, kidney diseases and some cancers, although initially not life-threatening, can rapidly become so, and the legal distinction between a woman’s life and her health is invidious – especially during a clinical emergency.”

“There is not always a clear line of distinction for healthcare professionals between life and health. Legislation is needed to protect doctors in Irish hospitals, and allow them to act in the best interests of preserving both the life and the health of a woman.

“This is not opening the door to a liberal abortion regime. Rather, it would be a positive and health-based approach to ensuring women giving birth in Irish hospitals can have as much confidence as they need about their treatment, and that their doctors can act quickly to safeguard them in cases where their life or health is under serious threat.”