Speaking in the Seanad this morning Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan called for urgency in the promised review of the Termination of Pregnancy Act so that women have access to the services people voted for three years ago.
Senator Gavan said:
“The reality is that currently just one in 10 GPs provide abortion care, and only 10 of the 19 maternity units now offer abortions. In the legislation passed three years ago there is a review clause to address access to services.
“Today it was stated in the Seanad in response to my raising the issue that a review has begun. I was glad to hear it will be led by an independent expert as chairperson but there was no clarity on when this appointment will be made, and when the review will be completed.
“The Minister is still finalising the approach to the review. There is urgency needed in this review given the lower access to services for many women, particularly in rural areas. There are also women still having to travel abroad for abortion services – 375 in 2019. It is particularly important that the voices of these women are included as part of that review.
“Another issue, and it is a commitment in the programme for government, is to establish safe access zones at maternity hospitals. Again there seems a lack of interest by Government to bring forward this legislation.
“We need effective safe access to healthcare services and we need to ensure that the legislation is working in the best interests of women. Government need to urgently move this issue on, appoint a qualified independent chairperson and get this review properly underway.”