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Máiréad Enright @maireadenright
, 13 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Today is a good day to talk about decriminalisation of abortion after #repealedthe8th #legisl8
Under gov proposals it is an offence for a doctor to perform an abortion except as prescribed by law.
An offence attracting a penalty of between 12 mths in prison/Class A fine to 14 years. (So gov contemplates breaches from the minor to those where one or more women is seriously injured or killed)
The offence as defined doesn’t make reference to harm to the woman (eg forced abortion) or to ‘backstreet’ abortion. It could also catch terminations within the health service where the woman’s consent is free and informed.
(The JOC’s report by the way was focused on using criminal law to avoid abortion provision outside the health service.)
Now if you look at things from a doctor’s perspective this is worrying because the offence is performing a termination or terminations outside the scope of an ambiguous law.
A doctor might well think that if they don’t date a pregnancy accurately, or struggle with the “serious harm to health” ground then the guards might come knocking.
A lawyer would say yes, but the draft legislation clearly says a doctor has a defence if they act in “good faith” and the decision is “reasonable” (meets the ordinary standard of care applied by doctors in cases of the kind being treated).
Will that message secure doctors’ confidence? Or will we see repetition of the chilling effects we saw pre the PLDPA, and with the PLDPA itself where ambiguous language (remember “real and substantial risk”?) was not enough to reassure doctors and care was delayed/denied?
It would be better by far to decriminalise abortion completely. With the 8th gone, who’s to say the constitution requires it?
Alternatively, @SimonHarrisTD should consider much more narrowly drawn offences clearly designed to protect women from specific harms, leaving doctors to get on with their demanding new job.
@SimonHarrisTD Providers will be worried about stings, being reported by colleagues, risking reputations and livelihoods. Why risk women’s care to send a stigmatising criminalising message about abortion?
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