TD: Forcing women to Britain for abortions is ‘barbaric’

A Government TD said it’s “barbaric” that women have to travel across the water to have abortions because successive Governments have had “no appetite” to face up to a Supreme Court ruling made 20 years ago.

Labour TD Ciara Conway said she would have preferred if her party in Government had legislated for the X Case, in accordance with its pre-election promise, instead of setting up a review group to look at the issue.

“My own personal preference would have been that we would have legislated for it. But that’s not the case so I am prepared to wait and to see what way the review group will report back,” Ms Conway said.

She said she will wait for the group’s conclusions instead of voting for an opposition motion on abortion legislation due before the Dáil next week.

February marked the 20th anniversary of the infamous X Case in which a suicidal 14-year-old rape victim was prevented by the High Court from leaving the country to have an abortion.

The Supreme Court overturned that ruling paving the way for abortion in limited circumstances here but it was not legislated for.

In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights called for it to be made clear in what circumstances abortion is legal in Ireland.

Ms Conway believes legislation in the Dáil, rather than a referendum, will be required.

“The reality is that thousands of women every year have abortions and they have them in the UK. And they have them on their own, without support with very little follow up,” she said.

Ms Conway and Wicklow Labour TD, Anne Ferris, are the only Government TDs to have joined a new campaign group called the Action on X Alliance made up of academics, NGOs and opposition TDs.

Ms Conway, a former social worker said: “It’s very difficult as a professional to know how to advise or how to give information, it’s unclear for people.”

She said she knows herself the “fear and worry” many women go through: “I was 20 when I got pregnant. I was in my final year in college. Everybody has this feeling of ‘oh my god how am I going to tell my parents’ and it’s a huge anxiety,” she said.

“I chose to have my daughter and I’m very happy and delighted with my decision. But not all women or girls could do that. I think we should be allowed to have that choice. In terms of being a human being, I think it’s just barbaric to think that we would send people over the water.

“It’s an Irish solution to an Irish problem.”

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