Human Rights and Equality Commission Calls for Conscientious Objection and Access Provisions to be Clearly Set Out in Abortion Legislation  

 The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) has called on Oireachtas Members to ensure that legislation governing access to abortion in Ireland does not create barriers to safe, timely and equal access to medical care for women and girls.

The Commission has submitted its legislative observations to the Minister of Health and all Oireachtas Members on the general scheme of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018, focusing specifically on two prime areas of concern: conscientious objection and equality of access to services.

The Commission recommends that provisions governing conscientious objection, and related obligations to refer a pregnant woman to an alternative care provider, should cover a broader range of health and social care professionals than is currently allowed for.  The Commission is also of the view that providing for the early declaration and registration of such objections by medical practitioners will help provide for accommodation of conscientious objection in a way that does not adversely affect equal and timely access to services by women and girls.

Focusing on access, while welcoming that services for the termination of pregnancy will be provided on a universal basis, the Commission points to the need to ensure all publicly funded healthcare institutions and services fall within the legislation’s scope. Regional gaps in access to services must be identified, with measures taken to ensure safe, timely and equal access to care.

The Commission, which is Ireland’s national human rights and equality body, appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment in October 2017. It has made its legislative input to the Bill under its statutory mandate to review the adequacy and effectiveness of law and practice in Ireland as it relates to the protection of human rights and equality.

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“The Commission welcomes the priority being given to the enactment of this bill, following the decisive result of the recent referendum.

In order for women and girls to have an effective right to a legal termination of pregnancy in Ireland, the State needs to make sure that, in reality, there are no barriers to safe, timely and equal access to services.  This means that, in practice, the right to conscientious objection needs to be effectively balanced with women and girls’ right to legal medical care, and that access to a termination of pregnancy should not be determined by what part of the country you live in.”

 

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

 

Notes to editor:

The full text of the Legislative Observations made by the Commission are published at the following link:

Observations on the General Scheme of a Bill Entitled Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

 

 

 

 

 

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