22.11.2023: Health Committee should not rubberstamp extreme changes underpinned by bad research from the abortion review

“Approving the review’s recommendations would represent a severe democratic deficit and undermine the 2018 result.” – Mulroy

It was reported today that the Joint Health Committee, which was tasked with examining the recommendations of the three-year review into Ireland’s abortion laws, has agreed to sign off on all the review’s recommendations “as an overall package”. Responding to this, Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Eilís Mulroy said:

“Given the content of the discussion during the two Health Committee meetings which included the reviews’ authors, it was clear that the Health Committee would move to rubber-stamp the review’s extreme proposals without serious scrutiny.

“The review leaned heavily on limited and often cherry-picked research. Its controversial proposal to scrap the life-saving three-day waiting period was made without interviewing a single woman who availed of the three-day waiting period for reflection and opted to continue with her pregnancy. When queried on why this was not included in the research, the two academics behind the review said it would be ‘unethical’ and ‘traumatising’ to ask a woman who considered an abortion why she changed her mind.[1] When one considers that they interviewed women who dealt with serious sexual assault, it simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny to suggest that such an interview on the three-day wait would be uniquely ‘traumatising’. To recommend removing the three-day wait without having performed this vital research is reckless.

“The author of the three-year review also displayed a shocking lack of awareness of the subject of abortion laws internationally, despite having been hired as an ‘independent expert’. When asked by Senator Martin Conway ‘is there any other example in Ireland or anywhere in the world where there is a three-day delay for any medical procedure?’ she replied, ‘Not that I am aware of.’ [2] In fact, nearly 30 countries internationally have mandatory waiting periods for abortion, varying from 24 hours to 7 days. This includes a 7-day wait in Italy, a 6-day wait in Belgium and a 3-day wait in Germany. Her answer clearly tried to imply Ireland was somehow an international outlier and its abortion law is out of step with mainstream western countries, which is simply not the case. The record has since not been corrected on this misinformation.

“Unfortunately, most of the discussion at the two meetings of the Health Committee centred on questions like how fast all these changes could be implemented. Several members of the Health Committee, in their contributions, highlighted how the 2018 referendum had been won on the narrow basis of draft legislation produced prior to the vote. To overhaul that law and replace it with what would amount to one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world, on foot of a flawed report, would tear up the contract with the electorate in 2018. It would represent a severe democratic deficit and undermine the 2018 result.

“Considering the deeply flawed nature of the three-year review report, the government must be very cautious in how it responds to this. A cavalier rush to overhaul Ireland’s existing abortion laws would be a huge mistake. The government should shelve this report and consider launching a new and thorough process to seriously examine the impact of Ireland’s abortion laws, like addressing how we reduce the spiralling abortion rate which we’ve seen since 2019 and implementing safeguards to prevent future instances like the horrific case of Baby Christopher, a healthy baby who was aborted following a misdiagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality in Holles Street hospital.”


[1] https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/joint_committee_on_health/2023-10-18/3/

[2] https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/joint_committee_on_health/2023-10-18/3/