Irish women benefit from a wait time before abortions

Observers say the legally required wait time for women in the Republic of Ireland to further consider abortion plans after their initial consultation is resulting in fewer abortions being carried out.

Irish law has a required three-day wait time before an initial abortion consultation and the abortion procedure.

For pro-life advocates, this provision is significant.

About 1,500 Irish women in 2020 decided not to go through with an abortion after seeking an initial consultation.

“My primary concern here is to ensure that women and babies are protected and supported,” said Carol Nolan, an independent Deputy to the Dáil from Laois-Offaly.

She accused both the current Minister for Health and his predecessor, of having “a kind of cold-shoulder attitude toward those who seek to place the emphasis on the need to reduce abortions rather than promote them.”

“That is not acceptable, and I will continue to fight against it. We can and must do better for women and their babies,” she said.

The law in the Republic of Ireland allows abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks into pregnancy. It also allows abortion if there is a risk to the life or health of a mother, or if there is any condition likely to lead to the death of the unborn child.

“The 2020 figures show that 1,480 women decided against having an abortion during this crucial [three day wait period] window,” says Eilis Mulroy of the Ireland-based group the Pro-Life Campaign.

“Whilst the three-day waiting period may not have been the only or most important factor in all these cases, it was undoubtedly a significant and life-saving measure in many cases.

“Many lives have been saved by the three-day waiting period, which demonstrates its inherent value.”

Mulroy is encouraging the public and lawmakers to reflect on these numbers ahead of the Minister for Health’s three-year review of abortion legislation.

Another Irish woman supporting the three-day wait period is Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute.

“Clearly, without the reflection period the already shockingly high abortion rate would be even higher,” she said.

“No reasonable person wants that – or wants more abortions to take place. Attempts by abortion advocates to scrap the three-day waiting period should be strongly resisted.”

Right to Life UK is hopeful that a three-day waiting period can be legally required in Britain. About 79 percent of them support a waiting period, according to a May 2017 ComRes survey.

Right to Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson says: “Even supporters of abortion who typically frame the debate around ‘choice’, should favor the introduction of waiting periods. They clearly give women a chance to consider their options, and perhaps find the help they need to go through with their pregnancy.”

Besides Ireland, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain all require a waiting period of at least three days between an initial consultation for an abortion procedure and an abortion itself.


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