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A chance to protect women’s lives

In Ireland and elsewhere, many opposing access to abortion do so claiming the “sanctity of life”. I write this, you read this, and we all understand that this refers to the “life” of the foetus.

Where are the lives of Savita Halappanavar, X case and the countless women who face unplanned and problem pregnancies in this picture, this conversation, this legislation and political game? They are invisible — not to themselves, their families or the international audience, but to the pro-life lobbyists, the Catholic Church and Irish law which effectively erases women and girls.

We Australians and Irish have similar foundations in 19th Century British common law. A key difference now? Australian health law has radically progressed in response to advances in women’s social, political and legal standing, and to medical innovations of our era. In the most progressive of our States, abortion is legal without needing a doctor’s ‘approval’. In the most backward Australian scenario, abortion is legal when two doctors deem continuation of the pregnancy endangers a woman’s health – not just life, health. While this is poor for choice, Australian reproductive healthcare unequivocally trumps Ireland. Ireland’s existing 1861 legislation simply does not value the lives of Irish women. The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill claims to justly balance the pregnant woman’s life and a foetus. While it makes vital steps towards recognising and protecting the inherent worth of women’s health and lives, it is desperately lacking. Requirements of excessive medical hoop-jumping, arbitrary distinctions between mental and physical risks to life and astonishing jail terms disrespects choice, the right to health and life, and women’s liberty — fundamental democratic principles of which the bill is devoid.

I urge the Irish people to support this bill to help prevent the death of any more pregnant women, and to demand the law further support access and choice as per Australia.

Australia’s progress shows that Irish women are being left behind. Ireland is being left behind. Ireland, now is your chance to protect the sanctity of women’s lives.

Casey Burchell

Committee Member

Reproductive Choice Australia

Melbourne

Australia


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