BREAKING: @Lawyers4Choice publish draft bill following Citizens Assembly vote.

A group of lawyers have  published a draft bill following the Citizens Assembly votes around reproductive health at the weekend. The bill:

gives effect to the Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendations for abortion law reform. The purpose of the Bill is to codify the Assembly’s proposals, and to show how simply and easily that can be done.”

Lawyers for choice

The group of lawyers that drafted the bill have stated  that “the provisions reflect the choices of the Assembly members’ and not those of Lawyers for Choice.”

You can read the draft legislation and accompanying full statement below.

For PRESS RELEASE

THE CITIZENS ASSEMBLY’S PROPOSALS: A DRAFT BILL

Lawyers for Choice has produced a draft bill that gives effect to the Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendations for abortion law reform. The purpose of the Bill is to codify the Assembly’s proposals, and to show how simply and easily that can be done. The provisions reflect the choices of the Assembly members’ and not those of Lawyers for Choice.

Regrettably, the Assembly’s deliberations on legislation were confined to grounds for accessing abortion only. Experience worldwide shows that, even where grounds are well-drafted, abortion can be difficult to access. The Oireachtas must pay attention to barriers to access such as obstructions outside of clinics, the circulation of misleading information on abortion, underfunding of services, and conscientious objection. Any final legislation must make provision for these matters.

In addition, we regret that the Assembly was unable to consider the decriminalisation of abortion, which is clearly required by international human rights law.

We welcome the Citizens Assembly’s recommendation that abortion be available on request up to 12 weeks, and on socio-economic and health grounds up to 22 weeks. However, we are concerned that the Assembly process did not always give members the opportunity to consider international best practice in the drafting of abortion legislation. To this end we note:

  • The Assembly has recommended making abortion available predominantly only in exceptional cases. ‘Exceptions-based’ legislation can stigmatise abortion by treating it as being different to other forms of medical care. It imposes burdens on pregnant people to establish that their abortions are ‘deserving’. It is also vulnerable to unduly conservative interpretation, which inhibits women’s access to services; for example, by distinguishing sharply between health and socio-economic grounds. We favour legislation which recognises and positively guarantees equal access to abortion care for all those who need it.
  • We recommend that no ‘rape ground’ should be included in any legislation. In other jurisdictions, accessing abortion on grounds of rape requires women to ‘prove’ their rape to the satisfaction of medics, police or courts. Such requirements reinforce damaging myths about rape victims’ credibility and lead to trauma and delay. Instead, the Oireachtas should ensure that other broader grounds (e.g. risk to health) can meet the needs of those pregnant through rape.
  • We do not support a specific disability ground short of fatal foetal abnormality. Its inclusion is stigmatising. Again, care should be taken to ensure that other grounds are drafted appropriately to ensure that they can meet the needs of those unable to continue a pregnancy after a diagnosis of severe foetal anomaly. The state is reminded of its international obligations to provide appropriate social and economic support, information and medical care to those in this position.
  • We regret that the Assembly’s recommendations include language from the case-law generated by the 8th Amendment e.g. ‘unborn’ and ‘real and substantial risk’ to life. These restrictive legal concepts have no place in Irish law once the Amendment is repealed or replaced and are unhelpful for medical practitioners.

ABOUT LAWYERS FOR CHOICE

Lawyers for Choice is a collective of legal academics, practising lawyers and law students, advocating for reproductive justice in Ireland.

lawyers4choice@gmail.com

FURTHER INFORMATION

For further comment or queries on this Bill please contact

Professor Fiona de Londras Máiréad Enright

Birmingham Law School Birmingham Law School

f.delondras@bham.ac.uk m.enright@bham.ac.uk

Dr Vicky Conway

Dublin City University

Vicky.conway@dcu.ie

GENERAL SCHEME OF

ACCESS TO ABORTION BILL 20171*

Part 1 – Preliminary and General

Head 1: Short Title and Commencement

  1. (1) This Act may be cited as the Access to Abortion Act 2017.

(2) This Act shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister for Justice and Equality may, following consultation with the Minister for Health, appoint by order or orders either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision and different days may be so appointed for different purposes or different provisions.

Part 2: Access to Abortion Care

Head 2: Abortion without restriction as to reason

  1. A pregnant woman may access an abortion until the end of the twelfth week of pregnancy without restriction as to reason if:
    1. She expresses the view to a registered medical practitioner that she does not wish to continue with her pregnancy;
    2. In the case of medical abortion: the medication is prescribed by a registered medical practitioner; or
    3. In the case of surgical abortion: the abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location

Head 3: Risk to Health

  1. A pregnant women may access an abortion until the end of the twenty-second week of pregnancy if
    1. A registered practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the continuance of the pregnancy would entail a risk to the pregnant woman’s health; and
    2. The abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location; and
    3. In forming her opinion, the registered medical practitioner has taken account of the pregnant woman’s views on the impact of the continuance of the pregnancy on her health.

Head 4: Non-Fatal Foetal Abnormality

  1. A pregnant woman may access an abortion until the end of the twenty-second week of pregnancy if:
    1. A registered medical practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the unborn child has a significant abnormality that is not likely to result in death before or shortly after birth;
    2. The abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location.

Head 5: Pregnancy Resulting from Rape

  1. A pregnant woman may access an abortion until the end of the twenty-second week of pregnancy if:
    1. She informs a medical practitioner that the pregnancy resulted from rape;
    2. The abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location

Head 6: Socio-Economic Factors

  1. A pregnant woman may access an abortion until the end of the twenty-second week of pregnancy if:
    1. She informs a medical practitioner that she is of the view that she lacks the necessary socio-economic resources to support a child that would be born if the pregnancy continued to full term;
    2. The abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location

Head 7: Serious Risk to Health

  1. A pregnant women may access an abortion if:
    1. A registered medical practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the continuance of the pregnancy would entail a serious risk of damage to the pregnant woman’s health; and
    2. The abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location; and
    3. In forming her opinion, the registered medical practitioner has taken account of the pregnant woman’s views on the impact of the continuance of the pregnancy on her health.

Head 8: Risk to Life

  1. A pregnant woman may access an abortion if:
  1. A registered medical practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the continuance of the pregnancy would entail a real and substantial risk to the life of the pregnant woman, whether physical risk or risk by suicide,; and
  2. The abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location; and
  3. In forming her opinion, the registered medical practitioner has taken account of the pregnant woman’s views on the impact of the continuance of the pregnancy on her life.
  1. “Risk to life” includes the risk of suicide.

Head 9: Fatal Foetal Anomaly

  1. A pregnant woman may access an abortion if
    1. a registered medical practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the unborn child has a foetal abnormality that is likely to result in death before or shortly after birth.
    2. the abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location;

Head 10: Emergency

  1. It shall be lawful for a single registered medical practitioner to perform an abortion on a pregnant woman if he is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the abortion is necessary to avoid an immediate risk to her life, or an immediate serious risk of damage to her health.

Head 11: Consent

  1. Nothing in this Act shall operate to affect any enactment or rule of law relating to consent to medical treatment.

1* Prepared and proposed for ‘Lawyers for Choice’ based on “General Scheme of the Access to Abortion Bill 2015” (2015) 5(1) feminists@law as prepared by Máiréad Enright, Senior Lecturer, University of Birmingham School of Law; Vicky Conway, Lecturer, Dublin City University; Fiona de Londras, Professor of Global Legal Studies, University of Birmingham School of Law; Mary Donnelly, Professor of Law, University College Cork School of Law; Ruth Fletcher, Senior Lecturer, Queen Mary University of London School of Law; Natalie McDonnell, Barrister-at-Law, Law Library, Dublin; Sheelagh McGuinness, Senior Lecturer, Bristol Law School; Claire Murray, Lecturer, University College Cork School of Law; Sinéad Ring, Lecturer, University of Kent Law School; Sorcha Uí Chonnachtaigh, Lecturer in Ethics and Law, University of Keele Law School.

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Enda Kenny predicts massive explosion of African continent.

Enda Kenny illustrating once again why his handlers want him to be less The Quiet Man and more the invisible man.

The Irish ‘leader’ recently gave a talk in Dublin were he suggested that the African continent will “literally explode” due to new trade agreements. These agreement will be quietly pushed through during the Irish ‘control’ of EU presidency in the first 6 months of 2013, though one would assume the resulting explosions might bring closer scrutiny to the specific details of them.   Kenny is every PR company’s nightmare, and for the most part remains a photo head of the present Irish gov. The strategy seems to be ensuring that Kenny says as little as possible so that the organised stupidity of current economic and political structures aren’t publicly accentuated by showing how a gobshite like him can actually be leader.  In this speech he also quotes US ‘leader’ Obama as saying that Ireland has the ‘best demographics’ in the EU, as if we are completely unaware that part of a US presidents job is to blow smoke up the asses of visiting minnows simply so it can be repeated to their own domestic audiences.  Neither Obama nor Kenny offered any clarity on precisely what or who Irish demographics are actually ‘best’ for.  Though Google do