Anti-choice campaigners are shifting tactics. They are trying to intimidate women from seeking an abortion in Ireland through confrontation. They are being encouraged by elements within the medical establishment and a weak response from the Minister for Health, Simon Harris.
Since January, anti choice campaigners have:
- Set up a website which mimics the HSE’s one which gives information on abortion.
- Staged pickets at hospital like the Lourdes in Drogheda.
- Used inside information to contact women seeking an abortion.
- Daubed a medical centre in Longford with graffiti.
These forms of intimidation rest on a deeply sexist assumption – that women cannot make up their own minds. They are also a blatant denial of Irish democracy as people have voted overwhelmingly for this service.
Fine Gael’s approach to the issues has added to the problem. To appease their own conservative flank, they insisted that a woman has to give three days notice of a request for termination. This means two visits to a doctor – and more time and opportunity for the fanatics to approach her.
The government has also set up an ‘opt-in’ system for doctors who are willing to perform an abortion. Instead of treating it a routine operation, the onus is on doctors to volunteer. At the very least, it should be the other way around – doctors who refuse to perform such operation should have to publicly register. Better still, it should simply be part of any contract they conclude with the state.
It is time we had a determined left led government to carry through a woman’s right to choose.