Doctors for Choice today have joined with Action on X and other groups in criticising aspects of the proposed Heads of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013.
Doctors for Choice welcome any improvement in the care of women who choose to have an abortion however it remains unclear whether this Bill would provide an ‘effective and accessible’ procedure for a woman in the position of Savita Halappanavar or in the X case.
Dr Peadar O’Grady has said “The inclusion of a criminal sanction of up to 14 years against women or doctors will hamper good practice and increase the risk of suicide in vulnerable patients through stigma and its emotional consequences: fear and distress.Fear of prosecution, a noted ‘chilling factor’, can onlycause further delays in access’
‘The notion that women who are forced to travel for an abortion in a situation of a fatal fetal anomaly are carrying out the equivalent of a gravely serious crime is particularly offensive’ he added.
‘The prospect of prosecuting children and/or their parents or those carrying out a home abortion with medication bought on the internet is also very concerning’ he said
He noted ‘The overwhelming support in 1992 for the constitutional right to travel for an abortion confirmed that Irish people do not consider abortion a grave crime; as did the lack of any prosecutions before then for abortions ‘procured’ abroad’
He added ‘To our knowledge, criminal sanction has not been seriously advocated by any party to the debate on access to abortion services. As criminal sanction is dangerous, offensive and manifestly absurd, it should be removed from the Bill’.