RCNI press release – Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018

RCNI urges TDs to ensure survivors of rape are empowered in their decision making within the General Scheme of the Health (Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 debated at second stage in Dáil Éireann on Thursday October 4th
RCNI call on legislators to ensure that the Health (Termination of Pregnancy) Bill is survivor-centred. The Bill should provide for the voice of the patient in abortion care and that requirements should not impede access to health care for survivors of rape.
A rape survivor’s perception of their own wellbeing must inform access. 
It is proposed that a termination of pregnancy may be carried out where two medical practitioners certify that there is a risk to the life, or of serious harm to the health, of the pregnant person (Section 10). The certifying medical practitioners are currently not required to consult with the pregnant person on their own perception of the risks of harm.
Clíona Saidléar, RCNI Executive Director said, “Many of those accessing abortion care under Section 10 will be survivors of rape and/or people living in coercive relationships. Any over-medicalisation of the decision-making process has the potential to restrict access and distances a survivor of rape further from control over their own body. We would urge legislators to ensure that the opinion of the pregnant person is included throughout this legislation.”
Further Section 13 provides for terminations where a medical practitioner certifies that the pregnancy concerned has not exceeded 12 weeks since the patient’s last menstrual period. Following this certification, a mandatory 3 day waiting period is required before an abortion can be accessed.
“We believe this is an unnecessary barrier to medical care which will prolong the harm and suffering of the survivor,” Dr. Saidléar said. “We must ensure the least traumatic and most empowered pathway to care and therefore urge the removal of unnecessary barriers and delays in accessing Section 13. Survivor-centred legislation will ensure the greatest possible recovery for those pregnant following rape who decide on a termination.”