It’s a historic day in the Republic of Ireland as abortion is completely legalised for the first time in almost 200 years.
In 1861 abortion was first banned when the country gained its independence from Britain, meaning women have often had to travel aboard.
Since 1980, 170,000 women and girls have travelled from Ireland to another country for an abortion – 3,000 travelling to Britain in 2018 alone.
In the 2018 referendum, just over 66 percent of the electorate voted to repeal the much-disputed amendment in the Irish constitution that meant all abortions were illegal unless in ‘extremely limited circumstances’.
Abortion was first banned in 1861 when the country gained its independence from Britain. Credit: PA
The new act means pregnancies can be terminated at up to 12 weeks, and will provide abortions if there is a serious risk to the life of the pregnant woman.
Under the act, an abortion can go ahead in cases of a ‘fatal foetal abnormality’ along with cases where the mother is in danger with physical or mental health issues.
In an interview with Sky News, Irish health minister Simon Harris said the changes represent a ‘very significant day for women’s healthcare’ but added that it would take time to fully evolve and fully embed termination services into Irish healthcare.
He said: “When a woman picks up the phone and looks for her options there will be many, many locations across the country where [she] can access this service.”
Since 1980, 170,000 women and girls have travelled from Ireland to another country an abortion – 3,000 travelling to Britain in 2018 alone. Credit: PA
A spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), an organisation that has helped around 3,000 women travel from Ireland to Britain for an abortion each year, said they expect to see the number of women travelling to access a termination service will fall.
Clare Murphy, BPAS’ Director of External Affairs, told the Guardian: “That number will definitely drop, without a doubt.”
She also added that the organisation thinks the requirement of a three-day cooling off period after making the decision was simply there for pro-life activists and not added on the basis of medical evidence.
Murphy said there was also fears for women seeking abortion after 12 weeks, saying: “We expect there will be a significant cohort of women who won’t be catered for.”
Although there are still some obstacles for women in Ireland seeking an abortion, this is still a significant day in history for the country.
Featured Image Credit: PA