The abortion Bill that Fianna Fail and the PDs are railroading through the Dail criminalises, exiles and silences tens of thousands of Irish women.
Government ministers tell us that their Bill is a reasonable abortion law for Ireland. But what resonable person wants a law that would deny an abortion to a despairing young woman - pregnant from rape (as in the 'x' and 'c' cases) - if she sees suicide as her only way out of an enforced pregnancy? And what reasonable person wants the courts to prosecute a woman - with the threat of a 12 year jail sentence - who induces an abortion herself? Would a reasonable person, even if they would not choose abortion themselves, deny that choice to a woman in crisis - 'specially a woman they know? This Bill is not reasonable. It criminalises Irish women who are desperate to end crisis pregnancies.
Éamon DeValera once said: "No longer will our children be brought up for export". Bertie's Bill however, will continue to send women into exile at their moment of crisis. At a time when support and compassion are what these women need, the Irish state abandons them with their fears, anxiety and possible illness to get abortions alone and far from home. For poorer women, the callous moneylender is often the last resort. For those unable to travel - too bad. There is no compassion in this Bill. It hypocritically exiles the problems that the Government doesn't want to deal with at home.
By criminalising abortion, Bertie's fundamentalist Bill will keep the blanket of silence over Irish women who have abortions. Not one Irish woman - out of an estimated 100,000 who have had abortions in Britain since 1983 - felt able to tell the recent Oireachtas Committee about her experience. There is no acknowledgement of Irish abortions - then or now. The proposed law will feed this culture of denial and shame.
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