A review of Ireland’s abortion law is expected to recommend the abolition of the three-day waiting period between an initial consultation and an abortion despite the fact that thousands of women had their babies instead of an abortion after the three-day waiting period.
When abortion was made legal in Ireland in 2019, it included a three-day waiting period between an initial consultation with a doctor and the carrying out of an abortion. The legislation also stipulated that there be a review of the law after three years.
The review began in December 2022, the results of which have not been released yet. However, media reports indicate that the review conducted by the Department of Health in Ireland will recommend the three-day waiting period be abolished. This is despite the fact that, according to the Health Service Executive, 3,951 women did not return for a second consultation after the three-day waiting period had passed.
Thousands of women decided to have their babies instead of an abortion
Eilís Mulroy, campaign manager of the Pro Life Campaign, said “Not all of these cases will have been because women changed their minds, but clearly it can be inferred that thousands of these women decided to proceed with their pregnancies”.
“[E]vidence from the first three years of the abortion law shows that the waiting period helps many women to get past any initial sense of panic, giving a window of time during which they can seek support services or help from family and friends”.
Campaigners have voiced concern about the impartiality of the review of the abortion law which has not been subject to parliamentary or public scrutiny. Mulroy says that Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly “has outsourced the handling of the review to handpicked academics, many of whom have a public history of pro-abortion campaigning. This is completely at odds with the idea of a fair and independent process”.
State funding for abortion referral service
Earlier this year, the Pro Life Campaign discovered that the state-run health service in Ireland has been spending taxpayer money on advertising its abortion referral service and paying Google to ensure that its own abortion-referral services outperform other pro-life pregnancy services that focus on offering alternatives to abortion.
In recent replies to Parliamentary Questions reported by Irish pro-life organisation the Pro Life Campaign, it has been admitted that, since the practice was made legal in Ireland in 2018, almost €1 million has been spent by the Health Service Executive (HSE) – Ireland’s publicly funded healthcare system – on advertising their abortion-referral service.
Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “The evidence shows that thousands of women chose to proceed with having their baby rather than going ahead with an abortion following the three-day waiting period. This gives women a time of reflection, along with time to get support from pregnancy support services or family. The three-day waiting period should stay.”