How disappointing it is that the first anniversary of the liberalisation of reproductive rights in Ireland was marked by a ghoulish anti-abortion protest outside the National Maternity Hospital (NMH).
Protestors waved baby coffins and grotesque imagery in the faces of anyone coming in and out of the NMH, without a thought to the effect this could have on people using the maternity service, including grieving parents whose lives might have just been devastated by miscarriage, stillbirth, or a diagnosis of fatal fetal abnormality.
Health Minister Simon Harris said he was “appalled” by the protest, which is to be welcomed, but his condemnation rings a little hollow considering that pro-choice activists have been telling him for years that exclusion zones outside abortion providers are vital to enabling people to access such services, as is their right in this country now.
Mr Harris said on the same day of the protest: “A year ago today we fulfilled a commitment to the Irish people and introduced free, safe and legal abortion services... I want to thank all the advocacy groups who engaged and worked so hard.”
The ugly scenes outside the National Maternity Hospital are a direct result of the health minister reneging on his commitment to legislate for exclusion zones.
If he truly wants to thank the grassroots activists who led the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment,Mr Harris could do worse than to heed the warnings from experts about flaws in the legislation and its provision — the lack of exclusion zones, the needless and patronising three-day waiting period, the refusal to provide, and so on.
Mr Harris should honour his commitments and give Ireland proper abortion services that are accessible to everyone.