Press Release

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

For Immediate Publication

Hypocritical legislation allows women to travel for abortion, yet threatens prison or unlimited fines to underprivileged women who can’t afford to go abroad

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has criticised the proposed abortion legislation published by the Government last night.

USI has criticised the proposed legislation for its inherent hypocrisy. It enshrines the already existing situation which makes abortion a class issue. Young women from lower socio-economic backgrounds are discriminated against because of their inability to afford the significant costs of traveling abroad for an abortion. It costs at least €1,000 to travel to England for an abortion, including clinic costs, travel and accommodation. Young women, whether students or not, normally don’t have ready access to such funds.

This legislation makes it possible for such women to be sentenced to jail for a period of up to 14 years or be fined an enormous amount of money if they induce an abortion in Ireland.

The legislation also provides for legal abortion in the event that the mother can satisfy three doctors that she is suicidal. If she fails to meet this threshold, she has the option to lodge an appeal, which will be heard by a further three doctors. USI has criticised this provision as being excessively onerous and calls for no more than two doctors to be involved in the examination. Young women, in particular, would likely be further traumatised by such excessive scrutiny of their mental wellbeing.

The failure to provide services in Ireland creates considerable psychological, physical and financial hardship for those who either are forced to travel outside the country for abortion or forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term because of the restrictions imposed on them.

The Union of Students in Ireland reaffirmed its pro-choice mandate at its annual Congress last March and also supports calls for the repealing of the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution. 

Laura Harmon, USI Vice President for Equality and Citizenship said:

“This bill does not go far enough. USI has consistently said that the professional opinions of no more than two medical practitioners should be needed. We need to trust women to make decisions about their own reproductive rights. USI also believes that abortion should be decriminalised. The Government cannot continue to export the abortion issue and USI will continue to advocate for a repeal of the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution.”


For more information contact Ronan Costello, USI Media and Communications Executive, on 085 1164263 or email