The government hoped that the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013, which came into operation in January, would stifle the demand for change in favour of women’s rights. But the opposite has happened. There has been a new spate of protests over the first reported case under the new legislation. ‘Miss Y’, an asylum-seeker who arrived in Ireland early in the year, sought an abortion on the grounds that she was suicidal. Despite her clear desperation she was refused the procedure and forced to continue the pregnancy. Yet another victim of the misogyny embedded deep within the theocratic Catholic state and its institutions.
The 2013 act was reluctantly introduced by the government in response to immense pressure from the population. Opinion polls have consistently shown an overwhelming majority in favour of some abortion rights. One published in the Irish Times in June 2013 showed over 80% in favour where there is a risk to the health of the mother: ie, the British system. A similar number supported abortion on the grounds of rape, foetal abnormality and other difficult circumstances. Almost 40% supported the proposal that women should be able to access abortion on the grounds of choice. It was a population very clearly out of kilter with its government.
Clare Daly, then a Socialist Party TD, introduced a private members bill in November 2012 demanding legislative action for abortion. She argued that the government needed to implement the decision in the ‘X case’ – a leading high court judgment from 1992, which ruled that women should be allowed an abortion if their lives were at risk from suicide. She claimed that this was a way of getting the issue discussed for the first time by Leinster House; it was a step in the right direction. Certainly it did spur a major debate, with many women coming out for the first time to talk openly about their abortions. It coincided with outrage over
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