#abortiontravel Cordelia Freeman on “The Chile-Peru Abortion Trail and the Irish Experience”

This post is contributed by Dr Cordelia Freeman of the University of Nottingham. It is based on a full-length journal article available at: Freeman, C. (2017). The crime of choice: abortion border crossings from Chile to Peru. Gender, Place & Culture, 24(6), 851-868.

The Chile-Peru abortion trail is almost unknown but provides a useful way to reflect on the experiences of Irish women who travel to Great Britain in search of abortion healthcare. Drawing on research on the Chile-Peru case, this post reflects on some similarities and differences with the Ireland-Great Britain example.

Chile has had some of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the world. Until last yearabortion was illegal in every single case and now it will be permitted in three very strict cases; if the pregnancy was a result of rape, when the woman’s life is at risk, and when a foetus is not viable. The criminalisation of abortion has not prevented women from procuring abortions but instead has pushed the practice further underground with fatal results. The primary cause of maternal mortality in Chile is complications arising from clandestine abortions and mortality due to abortion is between 10 and 100 times higher in Latin America than in most European countries. The National Health Service estimates that in 2014 there were almost 34,000 admissions after abortions which had gone wrong. Women are quite literally dying due to state legislation. Continue reading “#abortiontravel Cordelia Freeman on “The Chile-Peru Abortion Trail and the Irish Experience””

#abortiontravel Cordelia Freeman on “The Chile-Peru Abortion Trail and the Irish Experience”

#abortiontravel Sydney Calkin on “The Changing Geographies of Abortion Access”

This post is from Dr Sydney Calkin of the University of Durham

Abortion access is fundamentally geographical: looking at abortion as an issue of space and power can help us to understand the continuities between contexts where abortion is illegal and where it is legal, as well as the gaps between abortion law and access in practice. In this post, I draw on a geographical approach to abortion to make two arguments:  first, spatial strategies to restrict abortion access often take the form of regulation of medical care that do not directly attack the legality of abortion but make it practically unavailable by making willing doctors scarce or distant. Second, medication abortion is transforming this landscape by challenging medical control over abortion and is prompting the state to respond to re-assert control.

Laws that ban abortion do not operate in a geographical vacuum: in a world of increased mobility, low-cost travel, and cross-border social networks, women who live in states with highly restrictive abortion laws can (and do) access abortion by going abroad. In Ireland, for example, 9-10 Irish women still travel to Englandevery day in pursuit of abortion access. Irish women are dependent on medical services in England, so that changes in healthcare availability in England has serious consequences for non-residents. The reliance on abortion trails is not limited to inter-state travel between states with different abortion laws; it happens as well within states where abortion access is deliberately constrained and made scarce. In places where there is legal provision for abortion, opponents of abortion rights deliberately create extra-legal obstacles that widen the spaces between women seeking abortion and doctors willing to provide it. Geography becomes a useful tool for widening and compounding inequalities to access and making abortion access dependent on a woman’s mobility, as a factor of her wealth or migration status. Continue reading “#abortiontravel Sydney Calkin on “The Changing Geographies of Abortion Access””

#abortiontravel Sydney Calkin on “The Changing Geographies of Abortion Access”

#abortiontravel Kath Browne & Catherine Nash on “Love both?: Naming Heteroactivism”

This post is from Professor Kath Browne of Maynooth University and Professor Catherine Nash of Brock University

It is becoming increasingly important to give a name to the ways in which gender and sexual rights are being resisted.  Those opposed to gender and sexual rights no longer employ the spectre of the ‘disgusting’ gay man or heap scorn on ‘fallen women’, as such tactics are barred, both legislatively (including criminalising hate speech) and culturally (Ireland as an egalitarian place is becoming core to national identities).

However, resistances to sexual and gender rights remain and they now take a different form than in the past: they employ a framing we name as ‘heteroactivism’.  Heteroactivism operates distinctively in places where ‘unnaturalness’ cannot be linked to the figure of the ‘disgusting homosexual’ because this figure is now generally seen as accepted as part of the nation.  Instead, heteroactivists focus on ‘natural’ procreation and genetics, thereby seeking to reassert heterosexuality as the ‘normal’, common sense and unquestioned centre. Heteroactivism relies on a particular form of heterosexuality (married, childrearing couples, composed of normatively gendered men/women), claiming not only that it is  ‘best for children’, but that such configurations are the ‘best for society’.  Whilst it may seem that the notion of heteroactivism most clearly applies to opposition to same-sex relationships and families (as well as to the very existence of trans people) heteroactivism is also a useful term to understand those who are opposed to abortion/choice. Continue reading “#abortiontravel Kath Browne & Catherine Nash on “Love both?: Naming Heteroactivism””

#abortiontravel Kath Browne & Catherine Nash on “Love both?: Naming Heteroactivism”

#abortiontravel Katherine Side on “Medical Abortion Use: Post-Referendum Possibilities”

This blog post is from Professor Katherine Side of Memorial University, Canada

Despite the lengthy process leading up to the May 25, 2018 referendum on Article 40.3.3 (the Eighth Amendment) of the Constitution, there is little direct discussion about medical abortion. Legal access to abortion in Ireland is long overdue, and pending a ‘repeal and replace’ vote, the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste propose a “doctor-led” protocol [1]Where doctors’ involvement provides clarity and support for medical abortion, it is likely to be welcomed. Where doctors’ involvement limits access, impinges on timeliness, and breeches privacy, it is likely to be unwelcomed. Medical paternalism, legal scholar Sally Sheldon notes, can be just as restrictive as state paternalism.

The referendum outcome could provide clear legalisation, safe practices, and expanded access. Consideration must be given to who is involved and how they’re involved in abortion. Medical abortions are safer with expanded access, not restricted access. Better health outcomes could be achieved through a state-supported model that balances access to medication and a wider range of qualified practitioners, with rights to safety, security, and privacy. Continue reading “#abortiontravel Katherine Side on “Medical Abortion Use: Post-Referendum Possibilities””

#abortiontravel Katherine Side on “Medical Abortion Use: Post-Referendum Possibilities”

Should the pro-choice movement support a new constitutional provision on abortion?

In the run-up to the Citizens’ Assembly deliberations on abortion, there was a lot of discussion on the possibility of a ‘compromise’ or ‘moderate’ solution. Many envisaged (and feared) that instead of recommending outright repeal of the Eighth amendment, the assembly would instead recommend inserting a replacement clause that would permit slightly less restrictive abortion laws, but still enshrine specific, limited grounds for abortion. Indeed, such a supposedly moderate position was probably contemplated by the government as something that a mythical ‘middle Ireland’ might accept. Along with many others, I was adamant that it was a terrible idea to enshrine abortion restrictions of any kind at the constitutional level. This would have the effect of copperfastening a potentially oppressive regime for another generation.

And so the early debate was dominated by the question of ‘repeal versus replace’. Ultimately many of us were surprised that the Assembly deliberations unfolded along very different lines. In the first place, the Assembly clearly rejected the idea of inserting any revised abortion restrictions within the Constitution itself, partly because the majority rejected such restrictions, bar time limits, full stop. However, it also declined to recommend straightforward deletion of the Eighth amendment, which has essentially been the demand of the prochoice movement to date. Instead, it seems to have been influenced by the view that the revised text of the Constitution, minus the ‘eighth’, could still be interpreted as including residual rights for the ‘unborn’, and that this could be used to challenge liberalizing legislation of the kind it recommended. Therefore, it recommended inserting a new constitutional clause which, in the working of the Assembly report, would clarify that it is ‘solely’ within the power of the Oireachtas to legislate on ‘any rights of the unborn’ and ‘any rights of the pregnant woman’.

Continue reading “Should the pro-choice movement support a new constitutional provision on abortion?”

Should the pro-choice movement support a new constitutional provision on abortion?

Reflections on the Citizen’s Assembly (3): The Presentation of Dr. Joan McCarthy

We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Donnchadh O’Conaill, of the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies at the University of Helsinki. This is the third of a series of posts Donnchadh is writing on presentations of ethicists to the Citizens Assembly; the first can be found here, and the second here

While debates over the status of the foetus are central to ethical and philosophical discussions of abortion, the freedom of women to choose to have abortions is crucial to political debates on this subject. Dr. Joan McCarthy presented a defence of this freedom, taking as her starting point “the body and the life of the woman or girl who is pregnant”, considered as a moral agent, i.e., as making ethical choices in concrete situations.[1] In assessing the choices such women face, McCarthy draws on two principles: autonomy and justice. Continue reading “Reflections on the Citizen’s Assembly (3): The Presentation of Dr. Joan McCarthy”

Reflections on the Citizen’s Assembly (3): The Presentation of Dr. Joan McCarthy

A boon for parliament? An initial response to the decision in Kerins v McGuinness

We are pleased to welcome this post by Dr. Tom Hickey, School of Law and Government, Dublin City University.

Sometimes constitutional law has an ironic effect and one that perhaps goes against the intuitions of lawyers, and of people generally. It prevents one arm of government from doing justice in order to allow another arm of government to do its job well. In today’s High Court judgment in Kerins v McGuinness, we see something like that at play, although it is probably better to say that in this instance constitutional law prevented one institution (the courts) from considering whether to offer a remedy for alleged injustices done unto Angela Kerins in order to allow another institution (parliament) to freely carry out its functions.

Continue reading “A boon for parliament? An initial response to the decision in Kerins v McGuinness”

A boon for parliament? An initial response to the decision in Kerins v McGuinness

Problems in US Preclearance in Ireland? Lawyers & Others who can help

Throughout the day I have been contacted by lawyers and others who are ready and able to help anyone caught up in the administration and application of the Executive Order in Irish airports. Here is the list. If you want to be added to it, please either let me know on twitter (@fdelond) or make it known in a comment to this post. We will keep updating this list.

FLAC will try to arrange representation for anyone who needs it; contact them at www.flac.ie or directly on twitter @flacireland

The Immigrant Council of Ireland will also help anyone who needs it; contact at www.immigrantcouncil.ie or directly on twitter @immigrationIRL

Doras Luimní can offer support to anyone caught up in the application of the EO in Shannon Airport (Examiner report); contact them through their website


Gareth Noble @GarNob and all at KOD Lyons Solicitors www.kodlyons.ie

Albert Llussa, Daly Lynch Crowe and Morris Solicitors, The Corn Exchange, Burgh Quay, Dublin 2, T:+35316715618, +35314749134, E: albert@dlcm.ie, , W:

Miriam WIlson-Hughes @Griff101

Matthew Kenny of O’Sullivan-Kenny Solicitors was in touch to offer help from the firm

John Anthony Devlin of Barron Morris Solicitors

Simon McGarr of McGarr Solicitors

Cahir O’Higgins Solicitors info@coh.ie Tel: 018744744

Stephen Collins, Irish Refugee Council (see comments)

The Bar of Ireland runs a Voluntary Assistance Scheme for NGOs in need of assistance from barristers; we are sure they would help: @BarofIrelandVAS email: vas@lawlibrary.ie

Anne Fitzpatrick

Gavin Elliot @sgelliot

Emma Slattery @epslattery

Patricia Brazil 

Garrett O’Halloran

Colin Smith

Patricia Sheehy Skeffington

Rory Treanor

Aoife McMahon

David Lennon

Julie O’Leary

Ann K Stapleton

William McLoughlin

Roger Cross

Paralegals, Legal Research, General Legal Knowledge
Jo Willis @jobw

Maria Hennessy @MP_Hennessy

Joan O’Connell hello@joan.ink  @clicky_here

Catherine Thullier (see comments below)

Ciara Ní Ghabhann

Donna Lyons, researcher & attorney-at-law (New York) lyonsdm@tcd.ie

Patricia MacBridge @IRLpatricia

Jennifer Schweppe (Limerick) @jschweppe 

Darius Whelan (UCC) @dariuswirl

Siobhan Mullally (UCC) @smullallylaw

Fiona de Londras (Birmingham) @fdelond

Media, logistics and PR
Louise Williams @loureports

Practical Knowledge of CBP & Immigration

Colm Falherty @CJayFla

Colin Lenihan @colinlenihan

Problems in US Preclearance in Ireland? Lawyers & Others who can help

The ‘Muslim Ban’: Suggested text for letter to members of the APPG on Ireland and Irish in Britain

Irish citizens resident in the UK may be interested in hear that there is an All Party Parliamentary Group on Ireland and the Irish in Britain, the members of which are often receptive to correspondence from Irish citizens. Below is a text that might be useful for people who want to correspondent with them on the matter of the so-called ‘Muslim ban’ recently enacted in the United States of America.


Given your membership of the APPG on Ireland and the Irish in Britain, I am writing to you as an Irish person living in the UK to bring your attention to particular concerns relating to the so-called Muslim ban implemented by President Donald J. Trump.

As you may know, the Executive Order is to be applied in US preclearance areas, including in Dublin and Shannon Airports, as well as by air carriers worldwide. I am sure you will also be aware that an increasing number of UK residents travel to the US via Ireland, particularly to avail of the preclearance arrangements there.

I am writing to you to ask you to make enquiries of the Prime Minister and relevant other Ministers as to:

  1. Assurances that have been sought by the UK government from the Irish government that the rights of EU citizens, including UK citizens, while travelling through US preclearance in Irish airports are being fully protected.
  2. Details of representations from the UK government to the government of the United States of America to ensure its full compliance with international refugee law and international human rights law.

All over the United States this weekend lawyers and others have protested against this unlawful, cruel, Islamophobic and xenophobic attempt to undermine the rule of law. I ask you to ensure that the UK government stands with them.

Given the urgency of the situation, I would appreciate your swift response.

Yours sincerely,

The ‘Muslim Ban’: Suggested text for letter to members of the APPG on Ireland and Irish in Britain

US Preclearance and the ‘Muslim ban’: Write to the IHREC

Here is a suggested text to the Irish Human Rights Commission for those who would like them to take steps available to them to assess whether the public bodies’ human rights duty under s. 42, IHREC Act 2014 is being complied with. 

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner

Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission

16-22 Green Street

Dublin 7

D07 CR20


Dear Ms. Logan and members of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission,

As you will be aware, the US Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” is applicable in US Preclearance areas in Dublin and Shannon Airports.

Both the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Ireland on Air Transport Preclearance (2008) and the Aviation (Preclearance) Act 2009 make clear that an Garda Síochána and Customs and Excise officials of the Revenue Commissioners are involved in the administration of the preclearance arrangements and area.

I am writing to ask you to take the appropriate steps to assess whether all Irish public bodies involved in the administration of the preclearance area and agreement are acting in compliance with their duties under s. 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014.

Yours sincerely,

US Preclearance and the ‘Muslim ban’: Write to the IHREC