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Monday, April 29

For Immediate Publication

Close to 1,500 young women between the ages of 18-24 travel to the UK each year for an abortion

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) will lead a student bloc at this evening’s Action on X protest at 6pm, which will gather at City Hall Plaza and protest outside Dublin Castle, where an EU conference on gender equality is taking place.

USI believes that access to safe and legal abortions in Ireland is critical to advancing gender equality and the position of women in Irish society.

USI calls for the implementation of comprehensive X case legislation without delay. It must include:

• The risk of suicide as grounds for abortion;

• The opinions of no more than two medical practitioners to approve an abortion;

• State-wide access;

• Access to abortion if a foetus has a fatal abnormality and cannot survive;

• Decriminalisation of abortion.

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

”The right to access abortions in Ireland is very much a student issue. In 2011, UK Department of Health statistics show that 4,049 Irish women availed of abortion services in England and Wales. Of these women, 1,404 were between the ages of 18-24 and 2,566 of these were under the age of 30. Crucially, these figures are probably an underestimation of the true numbers as many Irish women give no Irish address for reasons of confidentiality.

It costs at least €1,000 to travel to England from Ireland for an abortion, covering clinic costs, travel costs and accommodation. Students don’t have ready access to this kind of money. 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.

Ireland has an absolutely shameful track record as regards how we treat women and how we treat pregnant women. We only have to look at the Magdalene Laundries; women forced to have their children taken from them; our history of putting women into psychiatric hospitals, and at the women who had to undergo symphysiotomy procedures in Irish hospitals. The failure of successive Governments to legislate for X is another indelible stain on our history.”

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. 

-ENDS- 

For more information contact Ronan Costello, USI Media and Communications Executive, on 085 1164263 or email media@usi.ie

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