How permissive will the Government’s proposed abortion law be compared with other Western European countries? The short answer is, as permissive. In most West European countries, it is very rare for a woman to be refused an abortion, and it will be very rare here also. It is very dishonest, therefore, for the Government to pretend its proposed law is ‘restrictive’.
The planned law will permit abortion without requiring any justification in the first three months of pregnancy, which is when about 90pc of abortions take place.
This 12 week provision is very common around Europe. Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Norway all permit abortion on request in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.* (Britain does not. At no stage of a pregnancy is abortion available on request meaning that, theoretically speaking, Britain’s abortion regime is more restrictive than that of most West European countries).
All of the aforementioned countries have high numbers of abortions. In Belgium there is one abortion for every six births. In Denmark there is one in four, in France the figure is also one in four, in Germany there is (officially) one in eight**, in Norway, there is just over one in five, in Italy there is just under one in five. (In Britain, there is one abortion for every four births).
The Irish figure, even allowing for a high estimate for the number of abortion pills being use here, is one in 15 or so. (See here).
After 12 weeks, these countries permit abortion on various ‘health’ grounds at various gestational limits. In Germany, for example, the limit is 22 weeks, in Italy it is 22 weeks.
The Irish law will permit abortion after 12 weeks on grounds of ‘health’ until viability, and after that a viable baby will be delivered, not aborted (that is, killed). But at early viability there is a high chance the baby will be disabled due to prematurity. For example, if delivered at 23 weeks, there is a 50 percent chance the baby will still be disabled at age three. (See here for more details). How can a law that permits this be considered in any way ‘humane’?
So, as we can see, the Government’s planned abortion law is not restrictive compared with the typical West European country, and those countries all have high numbers of abortions. It is therefore misleading in the extreme for the Government to pretend our law will be restrictive.
It is incumbent upon our media to give the facts about the planned law and not play along with the Government line that it will be restrictive.
* See ‘Grounds for Legal Abortion in 46 European Countries’ (presented to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment by the Centre for Reproductive Rights).
** According to this article, the official German figure is too low.