18.10.23 – Chair of abortion review not even aware of existence of mandatory abortion waiting periods abroad

18.10.23 – Chair of abortion review not even aware of existence of mandatory abortion waiting periods abroad

“How can the chair recommend removing the life-saving three-day wait period when she’s clearly misinformed on the issue?”, says Mulroy

Marie O’Shea, chairperson of the government established three-year review of the abortion law, appeared earlier today before the Oireachtas Health Committee to answer questions on the report which she submitted to the government in April. She was accompanied by Drs Catherine Conlon and Deirdre Duffy, whose research was consulted during the review process.

Responding to today’s committee meeting, Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Eilís Mulroy said:

“When queried by Senator Martin Conway on whether other countries have a mandatory waiting period similar to Ireland’s, the chairperson of the review, Ms O’Shea, answered that she was not aware of any. This is a shocking oversight on the part of the supposed expert-led review. Many countries internationally have mandatory waiting periods which aim to provide women with sufficient time to reflect on whether to have an abortion, as a way to mitigate against abortion regret and ensure that informed consent is achieved. Along with other countries, Belgium has a mandatory six-day waiting period, whilst Germany has a mandatory three-day waiting period and counselling.

“In claiming that Ireland is somehow an ‘outlier’ in the world due to the presence of its three-day wait period, Ms O’Shea misled the committee and betrayed her own lack of awareness of abortion policy in general. Given she advocates removing the three-day wait period, one must ask how can the chair recommend this when she’s clearly misinformed on the issue? It’s ironic that Ms O’Shea would accuse others of disseminating ‘misinformation’, when she is guilty of this herself despite allegedly being an expert in charge of this so-called ‘independent’ review.

“Also during the committee meeting, in reply to a question on why the review did not conduct any research on the experience of women who made an initial abortion appointment but did not proceed to the final appointment, Ms O’Shea’s colleague, Dr Conlon, suggested it would be ‘unethical’ to ask a woman who considered an abortion but then proceeded with a pregnancy, as part of a voluntary academic interview, to explain her decision. Dr Duffy described this as ‘traumatising’ towards a woman. This simply does not stand up to scrutiny. Elsewhere, these researchers have interviewed women who have been been through abortion, been victims of sexual assault and other cases which are far more traumatic. It’s apparent the researchers are trying to shirk responsibility for conducting one-sided and limited research which has produced a slanted recommendation to scrap the three-day waiting period. As noted by Deputy Peadar Tóibín during the meeting, 6,728 women who made an initial appointment did not proceed to the final abortion during the period 2019 to mid-2023.

“It is clear from today’s Health Committee meeting that the extreme recommendations by Ms O’Shea in her report have been made without proper consideration of the evidence. Indeed, the review report reads more like a wish-list of NGOs and campaigning groups who want to see the abortion law in Ireland made even more extreme.”