Tough laws don't stop abortions but make them unsafe for poor women
Stabroek News
March 12, 2002

Related Links: Letters on abortion
Letters Menu Archival Menu

Dear Editor,

On March 6, by less than one per cent, citizens of predominantly Catholic Ireland voted in support of a court decision that allows legal abortion in the event of threatened suicide.

This is Ireland's third referendum on abortion in 19 years. In 1983, voters approved an amendment forbidding lawmakers from permitting abortion in Ireland without a referendum.

Then in 1992, voters approved an amendment recognizing the right of Irish women to information about foreign abortion services and the right to travel overseas for abortions.

Also in 1992, the Irish Supreme Court ruled that abortions were legal where the continuance of a pregnancy threatened the life of the woman, including probable suicide.

But, without specific legislation, doctors in Ireland refused to provide abortion services on grounds that suicide was likely. The referendum of March 6 has removed that obstacle.

The vote is a defeat for Prime Minister Bertie Ahern only two months before national elections.

Of course, the vote is of little significance since about 7,000 Irish women travel to England every year for abortions. About 10% of Irish pregnancies end in abortion every year.

Even the strictest codes do not prevent abortions. They only make them unsafe for poor women, expensive for rich women and wasteful for taxpayers who face the hidden cost of treating complications in public hospitals.

In spite of our modern law, we continue to face these unnecessary costs. Poor women still need access to safe abortions. Public hospitals should provide abortion services. That would be far less expensive than treating complications.

Yours faithfully,

Sita Rampersaud