Bill to reduce abortion prison sentence to €1 fine to be brought before Dáil

Bríd Smith

A Bill to reduce the 14 year prison sentence for women who have abortions down to a €1 fine is to be brought before the Dáil, writes Elaine Loughlin, Irish Examiner Political Reporter.

People Before Profit have launched the bill in a bid to address a law which they claim is "utterly draconian and barbaric".

The group had tried to introduce a Bill which would have totally decriminalised abortions in Ireland, but were prevented from doing so as it was deemed unconstitutional.

Launching the Bill which will come before the Dáil next week, AAA-PBP TD Bríd Smith said the current situation, which criminalises women who obtain abortions and doctors who advise them, is "absolutely frustrating".

She added: "I think I am right in saying that the vast majority of people in this country are not aware that if you procure an abortion in this country or help to procure an abortion you could face up to 14 years in prison.

"We think this is utterly draconian and barbaric," she said.

Ms Smith said she had made several attempts to introduce a Bill to decriminalise the issue get rid of the 14 year sentence but each time legal opinion came back from the Oireachtas stating that it went against the Eight Amendment and therefore was unconstitutional.

"Instead what we have done is very simple, we have put in a Bill that has been accepted," Ms Smith said.

"This is not a joke or a stunt or a laugh, this is quite a serious attempt to decriminalise abortion in this State since we have been prevented from doing so outright through the two other Bills which we submitted and they came back and told us that they would be illegal and unconstitutional to get rid of all penalties."

She was joined by Kitty O'Kane of the Derry Alliance for Choice, Ailbhe Smyth of the Coalition to Repeal the Eight Amendment and USI president Annie Hoey to launch the Bill.

However, Ms Smith added that she was not hopeful that the Bill will pass as there would be significant opposition when it comes before the House on March 7.

But she said it would force a discussion on the issue.

"It's up to people who think €1 is too little to tell us what they think is enough to criminalise women.

"I think it's important to keep it on he agenda, to keep raising it," she added.

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