31.05.2023 – Basis for scrapping three-day reflection period “completely collapses” following admission at Oireachtas Committee meeting

“Highly inappropriate” for author of report to make personal call for legal changes – Mulroy

The Pro Life Campaign has said the recommendation in the report of the abortion review to scrap the three-day period of reflection has “completely collapsed” after it emerged at today’s meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Health Committee that the authors of the report never spoke to any women who availed of the three-day waiting period or examined the reasons why so many of them chose in the end not to proceed with the abortion. The Health Committee was meeting to discuss the Report of the review which was published last month and recommends legislative changes to widen the grounds for abortion in several areas.

Commenting on today’s meeting of the Health Committee, Eilís Mulroy of the Pro Life Campaign said: “It is simply incredible that the author of the report made a recommendation to scrap the three-day period of reflection without ever consulting with any of the thousands of women who went for their first abortion appointment but didn’t proceed with the abortion after the three-day period of reflection had elapsed. The justification for this recommendation has completely collapsed and it raises lots of other questions about the thoroughness and impartiality of the report.

“As a result of the questions asked by Peadar Tóibín TD at today’s committee meeting, more light has been shed on the shortcomings of the review report. The report itself references a small study from the START doctors group as the basis for the recommendation to do away with the three-day waiting period. Inexplicably, the author made no reference in her report to the much more comprehensive Health Service Executive (HSE) research and figures which show that between 2019-2021, 3,951 women did not return for the second and final abortion appointment after the three-day wait. It is clear beyond any doubt that the three-day wait contributed to many women changing their minds and as a result many children are alive today who would otherwise have been aborted. It is reckless and inexcusable for the author of the report to make such a sweeping recommendation to do away with the three-day waiting period without having any concrete evidence whatsoever on which to base her decision. Those who claim there is no ‘medical reason’ for the three-day wait cannot point to any other area of medicine where the intent of the procedure is to end a human life and not preserve it.”

Regarding the call today from the Chair of the review for legislative change on foot of her report, Ms Mulroy said: “It was highly inappropriate and revealing the way the Chair of review personally called for specific changes to the law at today’s meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Health Committee. It puts paid once and for all to any suggestion that the review was independent and impartial given the Chair’s decision to use her position to advocate for specific changes to the law.

“Any fair-minded person who watched today’s proceedings could not have missed the fact that the entire meeting was devoted to broadening the grounds for abortion with zero reflection or concern expressed by members regarding Ireland’s soaring abortion rate since the law changed. The devastating result of the new law is that for every seven babies now born in Ireland, one baby has his or her life ended through abortion. This appalling tragedy doesn’t appear to bother most members of the Health Committee as they call for even more abortion. There was no time set aside at today’s meeting to make room for the voices of women who regret their abortions or to talk about the women who have been coerced into having abortion since the law changed. The entire focus of the meeting was about making way for more abortion. Aside from the questions asked by Peadar Tóibín and one or two others, the meeting made for a very sad and troubling spectacle.”


*The witnesses before today’s Joint Oireachtas Health Committee were Chair of the review, Ms Marie O’Shea BL and Dr Catherine Conlon who conducted the UnPAC study as part of the review.