The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) revealed yesterday (16 Dec 2014) that over the last 12 months alone they have seen 26 asylum seekers or women with travel restrictions who indicated they wanted an abortion but were unable to travel abroad. At least 5 of those women were forced to continue the pregnancy to term.
For too long people have allowed the state to continue to deny bodily autonomy because the trip to Britain for an abortion was a difficult and expensive option but one still available to many. What was ignored was that those unable to access such abortions were the most marginalised, those with little or no voice. As the IFPA revealed as well as Asylum Seekers this includes "women in poverty or on low income, young women, women with disabilities, women in State care, women experiencing domestic violence and women with travel restrictions”
Even apart from travel and accommodation costs the cost of an abortion can range from €600 to €2,000 and travel documentation for migrants can cost another €200 and take up to eight weeks to arrange. An impossible burden for many but in particular those trapped in the cruel conditions of Direct Provision and its €19.10 allowance.
Despite being fully aware of this reality the Labour Party & Fine Gael government have refused to act to allow effective access to abortion in Ireland. Worse they have acted to block any expansion of such access. Tonight they will do so again when the Dail votes against the Private Members motion, tabled by Independent TD Clare Daly for a referendum to remove the 8th Amendment.
The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment is appealing to all Pro-Chocie activists to join the rally outside the Dail that evening to put pressure on TDs from all political parties to vote in favour of the bill.
They have organised a live link-up to the Dail so that people can listen to the debate as it happens from 19.00 to 21.00.
WORDS Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )