- 17 May 18
The Government has outlined a series of measures planned to improve supports for women and reduce crisis pregnancies, as they continued their campaign for a Yes vote in the Referendum on May 25th.
There will be a focus on"increased supports for women, sexual health education and enhanced access to contraception to reduce crisis pregnancy", it was stated yesterday.
The series of measures were jointly outlines in a press conference by Ministers Harris, Madigan, Bruton and Senator Catherine Noone
The measures include a comprehensive education, information and promotion programme, as well as an extension to the availability and distribution of free barrier contraception.
This will be supported by a coordinated and integrated approach to sexual health promotion which will support 'safer sex' behaviours, increase awareness of risks and promote testing, counselling and other services.
The Government is also progressing measures to improve maternity and support services in line with the Maternity Strategy including extra capacity in perinatal hospice care.
Senator Catherine Noone, Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment said: “In other countries where termination of pregnancy is available in tandem with free contraception, counselling and enhanced crisis pregnancy supports, the number of terminations reduce.
“In addition to introducing doctor-led, safe and regulated termination of pregnancy, the Joint Oireachtas Committee felt very strongly about the need for the Government to act on these ancillary recommendations to reduce crisis pregnancies, and I am very pleased that this is progressing.”
Minister for Health Simon Harris TD said: “Earlier this year I established a group to put together an effective and comprehensive response to ancillary recommendations in the report of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.
"In the same way that we successfully reduced the number of teenage pregnancies in Ireland in recent years, the Government has now approved measures designed to further reduce crisis pregnancies and to support women who choose to continue with their pregnancy in crisis situations.
“The measures include enhanced provision of services aimed at reducing negative sexual health outcomes, including crisis pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, in line with the aims of the National Sexual Health Strategy 2015–2020.
This will include a comprehensive education, information and promotion programme. We are also increasing the availability and distribution of free barrier contraception to help reduce crisis pregnancies, and consideration is being given to the extension of the provision of emergency hormonal contraception.
“To better support women in pregnancy, the National Maternity Strategy is providing additional consultants in obstetrics and gynaecology, neonatology, anaesthesia as well as midwives and allied health professionals to standardise care, in terms of quality and safety, geographic location and socio-economic status. We will also provide extra support for the implementation of the National Standards for Bereavement Care following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death and extra capacity in perinatal hospice care to ensure that palliative care services are available.”
Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton TD, said: “Every student has a right to access information about sexual health, relationships and sexuality and this must be delivered in a factual manner in every school.
"We need to make sure that what is being taught in our schools meets the needs of young people today, who face a range of different issues to those faced by young people in the late 1990s, when the curriculum was last updated.
He added: “Further to the Committee’s recommendations, I also want to ensure that teachers feel comfortable delivering the curriculum and that external providers are being used in an appropriate way.
“That is why I have recently announced a review of Relationships and Sexuality Education in our schools.
"This review will cover the curriculum, how it’s being taught and how external providers are being used.
"I’ve asked my officials to specifically address; Consent, what it means and its importance; Developments in contraception; Healthy, positive sexual expression and relationship; Safe use of the internet; Social media and its effects on relationships and self-esteem; and LGBTQ+ matters.
“I look forward to the outcome of that review and to working with my colleagues in government to ensure that regardless of the outcome of the referendum on May 25th, that we are giving our young people, appropriate and relevant information.”
Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan TD and Campaign Coordinator said:
“I am pleased that the Government has agreed initiatives to further reduce crisis pregnancies and enhance services for pregnant women. These measures will be funded in 2019 and they will go ahead, whether the Referendum on May 25th is passed or not.
“However I want to be very clear. Unless we vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment on May 25th, women and girls will have to travel abroad for terminations due to rape or incest or in the case of a fatal foetal anomaly and will continue taking illegal abortion pills alone on their own in their bathrooms, with no medical supervision.
“This Referendum is about giving the people of Ireland a say on how we treat women at one of the most difficult times in their lives. It is about our sisters, daughters, wives, mothers, friends and colleagues.
"It is about putting in place a caring and compassionate system that is doctor led, regulated and safe, where terminations are lawful in certain restricted circumstances and where they will remain unlawful in all others.”