Ireland: Reproductive Health and Abortion

  • Legality:
    • In May 2018, the Irish people voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment and thus to legalize abortion.
      • The new law will allow abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy with no restrictions, and beyond 12 weeks in cases of fatal fetal abnormalities or serious risks to the woman’s health.
    • Prior to this legalization:
      • 3,265 people left Ireland every year for abortions.
      • ~5 Irish women and 2 Northern Irish women requested an abortion pill every day from telemedicine websites.
      • Women and girls took risks despite the threat of up to 14 years imprisonment for procuring an abortion.
  • Contraception:
    • The government is considering offering free contraception for all, now that the Eighth Amendment has been repealed.
    • From 1946 to 1979, Irish law criminalized contraceptives.
    • In 1985, new legislation allowed for the distribution of non-medical contraceptives (condoms and spermicides) at doctors’ offices, hospitals, and family planning clinics and these contraceptives became available without prescriptions to people over 18 at pharmacies.
    • In 1993 contraceptives were fully legalized. It is now legal to purchase contraceptives, but accessibility remains limited.
  • Complications:
    • Two main arguments to legalize abortion were both bodily autonomy and maternal mortality.
    • In 2012, Savita Happalanavar, a dentist, died after being denied an abortion despite severe pregnancy complications.
    • Highly restrictive abortion laws “can have a broad range of physical, psychological, financial and social impacts on women, with implications for their health and well-being”.
  • Sources:

Doctors for Choice Ireland: Recent Accomplishments 

  • Engaged in political advocacy:
    • Dr. Mary Favier was featured in a Tedx Talk “Impossible to possible,” during which she shared the role of doctors in the Irish Repeal the Eighth referendum campaign.
    • Successfully campaigned to remove the Eighth Amendment – and thus helped end the Irish constitutional prohibition on abortion.
      • Presented in Parliament, actively briefed all main political parties and representative organizations, and made public appearances with the Minister of Health who was promoting the repeal.
      • Led an organized media and social media campaign, produced factsheets used by activists and the media, and actively debunked myths:
      • Provided language for the new law, including abortion provision in a primary care setting and mitigating conscientious objection.
      • Continue to collaborate with key political leaders on the implementation of this legal change, including the provision of abortion in a primary care setting.
      • Has been involved in preparations for the implementation of the new law, including providing expertise for the implementation timeline, helping ensure institutional structures were in place to enable provision, providing input for the production of clinical guidelines, training of medical professionals and auxiliary staff, and engaging with academic medical colleges.
    • Continue to advocate with key political leaders and recruiting medical professionals to provide early medical abortions and to proactively mitigate conscientious objection.
  • Increased knowledge and capacity for advocacy:
    • Created and published medically accurate and evidence-based information on abortion on their website, including articles, fact sheets, press releases, and resources, in order to help influence medical professionals, the general public, and political leaders.
  • Honored for their work:
    • Dr. Mary Favier was awarded the annual 2018 Bram Stoker award from Trinity College Dublin Philosophical Society on behalf of Irish Doctors for Choice. Each year the Bram Stoker medal is awarded to an individual who has made “an outstanding contribution to shaping the future of Ireland.”
    • Dr. Mary Favier was elected vice president elect of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), effective in May 2018 for one year. In May 2019 she will become president for one year, and then remain on the ICGP board as immediate past president for one additional year starting May 2020.

Doctors for Choice Ireland: Leadership

Doctors for Choice Ireland is led by Dr. Mary Favier and consists of a group of physicians from a variety of medical specialties, all committed to increasing access to comprehensive reproductive health services.

Doctors for Choice Ireland: Lead Doctor Profiles

Mary Favier, MD, MBChB

Lead Doctor and GDC Board Member

Dr. Mary Favier is a founding member and executive committee member of Doctors for Choice Ireland, which was founded in 2002 to support the right to choose abortion and that campaigns for the provision of safe legal abortion in Ireland, including the decriminalization of abortion.

Dr. Favier is a principal and partner in family medicine since 1998, a Member of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), and a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners (UK). She is a guest lecturer to the undergraduate Medical School and the Postgraduate Family Medicine training programme in University College Cork. She also sits on the ICGP Council and the ICGP Professional Competence Committee. Previously, she was an ICGP executive member, Chair of the ICGP Education Committee, and an ICGP Educational Fellow and a Continuing Medical Education Tutor. She served on the board of the local Rape Crisis Centre and was medical advisor to a local Sexual Health Service. Additionally, Dr. Favier was elected to the Medical Council and also served on the board of the Medical Protection Society, the world’s largest provider of medical indemnity. She dedicates ¾ of her time to clinical practice and ¼ to providing expert legal opinion reports on breach of duty.

Advocating for access to safe reproductive health care for all.