'The Irish government is treating women worse than animals'

Dina Rickman@dinarickman
Monday 18 August 2014 13:00

Campaigners have one response to reports that a suicidal rape victim was refused an abortion in Ireland and then forced to have a caesarean - they are not surprised.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons and is not an Irish citizen is said to have sought an abortion under a clause in Ireland's Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act (2013), which supposedly legalised the termination of pregnancies in cases when there is a substantial risk to the life of the mother, including the risk of suicide.

After the unnamed woman's request for an abortion was rejected, she began a hunger strike. The New York Times reports she agreed to an caesarean after the state began proceedings to force her to drink liquids, while the Irish Times reported that the woman was pregnant as a result of rape.

Mara Clarke, of Abortion Support Network, a charity which raises funds for women in Northern Ireland and Ireland who need to travel for an abortion, told i100 "the Irish government has decided it can treat women worse than animals."

We hear constantly from women who tick several of the situational boxes this woman found herself in. We hear from very young girls, women pregnant as a result of rape, women either with immigration issues or who don't have travel documents such as a passport.

None of this woman's situation is unique or surprising. We have heard from a number of the women who have contacted us for help and advice. We've heard from a number of young girls, women pregnant as a result of rape, women with serious mental health issues and women who have tried serious and dangerous things to end their pregnancies themselves when it seemed that travelling for an abortion was out of their reach.

Making abortion against the law or restricting it or putting these ridiculous obstacles in women's way doesn't stop abortion. All the Irish government is doing by perpetuating this horrible, horrible law is saying that faced with an unplanned pregnancy women with money and travel documents and a credit card can get on a plane and get an abortion and women without money, even in the most vulnerable state, cannot.

It costs between £400-£2000 to travel from Ireland to the UK for a termination, and the further in pregnancy a person is, the more expensive it is. Women in Northern Ireland are also not allowed to have a termination paid for by the NHS.

According to the latest figures approximately 5,500 abortions were performed in England and Wales for non-resident women in 2013. Of those women, 67 per cent were from Ireland and the majority of these women (67% and 15%) were from Ireland and Northern Ireland respectively.

The baby is said to have been delivered in the last fortnight.