The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today launched Every Woman – Affordable, accessible healthcare options for women and girls in Ireland. The Every Woman model is based on extensive consultations with NWCI’s members and women and men across Ireland. With the launch of Every Woman, NWCI calls on others to join them in facing with openness and compassion, complex issues relating to life choices, fertility control and pregnancy care.
Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said:
“Reproductive health matters at all stages of our lives, from sexual health education in schools to menopause services. Access to reproductive healthcare is fundamental to women’s family and life decisions and essential for women’s equality. Currently, the Eighth Amendment is a barrier to ensuring that all of women’s healthcare needs are provided for in this country. The Eighth Amendment only permits legally ending a pregnancy in Ireland if the pregnant woman will die as a direct result of the pregnancy continuing. This means that some women’s medical treatment is being denied or delayed to protect the developing pregnancy or due to understandable caution on the part of the woman’s medical team. Unlike in any other medical decision, the parity given to a woman’s pregnancy prevents doctors in Irish healthcare facilities from putting their patients’ health and wellbeing first. ”
Orla O’Connor continued:
“With Every Woman we are putting forward a model where medical professionals can care for all women and girls in this country. Instead of focusing on criminal sanctions, restrictions and limits of care options, it focuses on women’s health needs. It acknowledges that each person or couple choosing to end a pregnancy has real needs and their own personal and private reasons for making healthcare decisions. We believe that our approach is in line with the views of many people in Ireland who so far have not felt represented in public discussions on abortion.”
Orla O’Connor concluded:
“Every Woman includes a proposal for a possible way forward. It advocates for a complete removal of the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution. Every pregnancy is different, every decision is personal. The complexity of healthcare decisions has no place in the Constitution. What women need is legislation that will allow for the availability of abortion in early pregnancy for all women who need it. This would allow for early abortion care on the basis of need, including in the case of rape or incest, and allow medical professionals to care for women and girls in an appropriate medical setting in Ireland.
Where a wanted pregnancy turns into a crisis pregnancy at a later stage in pregnancy, we advocate for legislation that would allow for restricted access to abortion where it is considered medically necessary to protect the mental and physical health of the woman, and where there is a nonviable pregnancy. These ‘protected treatments’ would allow medical professionals to care for women in sometimes extremely difficult and distressing circumstances and support women, couples and families in making these decisions.
With the launch of Every Woman today, we are inviting everybody to join in our conversation about what reproductive healthcare services we need for women and girls in Ireland.”
Speaking at the launch were also Sonya Lennon, Designer and Entrpreneur, Suzy Byrne, Disability Rights Activist and Alison Cowzer, East Coast Bakehouse and Investor on Dragon’s Den. The event was chaired by Ellen O’Malley- Dunlop, Chairperson of NWCI.
More information about Every Woman is available on www.everywoman.nwci.ie