The harrowing RTÉ Investigates programme into our abortion services is further evidence of the urgent need to reform the law, according to Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns.

“The RTÉ Investigates programme into our abortion services was difficult to watch. Six years after the Repeal vote, we are still failing women who are being forced to travel to the UK for care.

“One of those women described feeling like a criminal as she left the country, before smuggling her stillborn baby back in the boot of her car. Others described their anguish at giving birth in the UK and having to leave their stillborn babies behind when they travelled home.

“I do not believe that people in this country want women, at the most traumatic moment of their lives, to be forced to go abroad and suffer in this unimaginable way. In fact, I believe that most people voted Yes with the express purpose of ending this cruel and degrading treatment of women.

“Repeal was seismic, but the law that was enacted in its wake is not working in the way we need it to. And the Government is well aware of its inadequacies. It has now been sitting on its own expert report, which laid out all of the problems with the law, for a year.

“How much longer is the Government going to wait before acting on this report? How many more women have to suffer? How much more pain and grief will they endure?

“Simon Harris was the Health Minister when the Repeal vote took place and the abortion law was enacted. As Taoiseach, he can now continue that work by overseeing its overdue amendment.

“Critically, we need to see the removal of the patronising and patriarchal mandatory three-day waiting period; the removal of the criminalisation of medics; and clarification of the law surrounding foetal abnormalities.

“As legislators, we are the only ones who can resolve the problems with the law. We have a duty to act. The Social Democrats will work with the Taoiseach to ensure that reform of the law can be fast-tracked and completed in lifetime of this Government.”

April 15, 2024

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