RTÉ Investigates: Ireland’s Abortion Services programme reveals issues with legislation

RTÉ Investigates is releasing a new programme tonight surrounding abortion services in Ireland.

The author of a landmark review of Ireland’s abortion law has called on the Government to prioritise ongoing issues with the legislation.

In her first interview, Barrister Marie O’Shea criticised a lack of action on many of the legislative recommendations contained in the report which was delivered to the Government last year.  

O’Shea was commissioned by the Department of Health to conduct her review following the introduction of abortion legislation in Ireland in 2019, after a majority rejection of the 8th Amendment in a May 2018 referendum. 

The Termination of Pregnancy Act had provided for such a review three years after its implementation.

Alison Gibney. Credit: RTÉ Investigates 

According to the report by Barrister Marie O’Shea, aspects of the legislation lack clarity and are difficult to implement in practice.

For example, ‘When a foetal anomaly is detected, an abortion can only be carried out if two doctors agree, having examined the pregnant woman, that the condition affecting the foetus is likely to cause its death before it’s born or within 28 days of birth’.

Marie O’Shea explained, “What I have said to the Minister of Health is that this 28-day [rule] is an absolute and utter nonsense. It’s cruel and it’s too prescriptive. It’s not good law and it leads people to be in absolutely profoundly sad conditions”.

The Abortion Support Network, a charity in the UK which helps women who need to travel to access safe, legal abortion, told RTÉ Investigates that since abortion laws were introduced in Ireland in 2019, almost 1,000 people here have contacted it about accessing termination services abroad. Most clients from Ireland are women affected by foetal anomaly diagnoses. 

RTÉ Investigates Reporter Aoife Hegarty. Credit: RTÉ Investigates

In that time, the charity has spent over €300,000 supporting people from the Republic of Ireland to travel for an abortion.

In RTÉ Investigates: Ireland’s Abortion Services, a number of women will be telling their own stories, with some still having to travel to the UK to have access to an abortion. 

For seven months, RTÉ Investigates reporter Aoife Hegarty has been examining Ireland’s abortion services. The documentary will also go undercover to expose some counselling services that are misleading women about what they offer in this unregulated sector. 

Watch RTÉ Investigates: Ireland’s Abortion Services tonight, Monday April 15 at 9.35pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player.

Watch the trailer below:


Feature image: Barrister Marie O'Shea. Credit: RTÉ Investigates