The anti-choice movements have been repeating over and over the message in recent months that 'abortion is never a treatment for suicidality' This is frequently coupled with citing the realtively low current rate of suicide among pregnant women. But like other myths of the anti-choice movement it has emerged that until abortion became accessible to Irish women, through travelling to the UK, 10% of suicides of women in Ireland were of pregnant women, a figure far in excess of the general population.
These shocking figures were revealed by Dr Anthony McCarthy, the psychiatrist at National Maternity Hospital Holles Street. He was reacting to the rumored plans to force suicidal women to go in front of a panel of up to 6 doctors before being able to obtain an abortion in Ireland. The intention of such a plan could only be to make sure than women in such circumstances continue to make the often difficult trip to the UK rather than being able to obtain an abortion in an Irish hospital. In an interview with the Irish Times Dr McCarthy described that plan as "an abomination" under which "Women would face a “double whammy” of being judged because of having an unwanted pregnancy and through the stigma of mental illness".
The Irish Times said that Dr McCarty had explained that "Before abortion was introduced in England in 1950, 10 per cent of women in Ireland who died by suicide were found to be pregnant, he said. While it was impossible to say why these women killed themselves, that figure now was much lower."
The anti-choice movement are trying to ensure that the 21 years late X-case legislation will be as restrictive as possible. While it's useful to expose the lies they are using in trying to do this we must also be clear that the X-Case legislation can not be enough. Abortion must be accessible to any woman who requests one, as part of a free health service that is open to all.
Words: Andrew Flood
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