Updated: May 4, 2020
It’s been a minute, so let’s get caught up.
Where did you go?
Nowhere exciting. La Batarde is a volunteer-led labour of love and we just got sidetracked, but we’re really happy to be back, with a very urgent cause.
Big things have happened with regard to abortion access in Ireland. Isn’t your work here done?
Yes, they have! No, sadly it’s not!
Let’s talk about the south first. After the 2018 referendum, a new law took effect in the Republic of Ireland in 2019 that allows abortion on request up to 12 weeks and beyond 12 weeks in very limited circumstances. However, there are major restrictions built into this law that can make access difficult for abortion seekers, such as a a three-day waiting period after requesting an abortion. This has real consequences. In 2019, the Abortion Support Network heard from 25 people in Ireland who were prevented from accessing a free, legal, and local abortion because this three-day period put them over the time limit. The law is especially onerous for marginalised groups, including those living below the poverty line, migrants, Irish Travelers, and more, who already experience financial and legal barriers to health care. In short, many people still have to travel to access safe abortion care and we still need strong advocacy. So, we’ll keep raising money.
As for the north. The British government has had a long-standing policy of leaving Northern Ireland’s draconian abortion laws to the region’s devolved government at Stormont, which was effectively defunct from early 2017 until January 2020. In summer 2019, Labour’s Stella Creasy and Conor McGinn tabled amendments on abortion and same-sex marriage, citing human rights obligations. The bill passed in Parliament overwhelmingly and stated that Westminster would be required to extend the right to abortion to Northern if Stormont couldn’t get its shit together by October 21, 2019.
Reader, they couldn’t. Despite the DUP’s very on-brand eleventh-hour attempt to restore the assembly after 1000+ days with the sole objective of thwarting some basic human rights, the law passed. In April 2020, amid a global pandemic, health trusts in NI were finally authorised to provide early medical abortion. So, we’ll see how that goes. At the time of writing, the DUP is desperately trying to block access to telemedicine abortions while stay-at-home orders remain in place. As it stands, women more than 10 weeks pregnant still need to travel for abortions.
What’s this new urgent cause?
About those stay-at-home orders. The UN Population Fund predicts at least 15 million more cases of domestic violence around the world this year as a result of pandemic restrictions. Over two-thirds of survivors who responded to a recent Women’s Aid survey said that domestic abuse is escalating under lockdown. 72 per cent said that their abuser has more control over their life since Covid-19. The need is urgent, and we’re doing all we can to help raise the money that domestic abuse charities need to support those in crisis.
How can I help?