The continent’s abortion laws are a patchwork of progress and setbacks. And for many, accessing the right care at the right time is still a lottery.
BY GRACE BROWNE
JUN 22, 2023
ON MAY 26, 2018, Irish women spilled onto the streets to celebrate a historic win for reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. The staunchly Catholic country had overwhelmingly voted to scrap the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, under which abortion was essentially illegal—one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world.
Five years on, the mood has sobered. Under the new laws, those seeking an abortion have to undergo a mandatory waiting period, adhere to strict time limits, and contend with a lack of providers. From 2019 to 2021, 775 people made use of their right to travel freely between the United Kingdom and Ireland to head to Britain to access abortion services. In 2020, despite the pandemic, nearly 200 people still traveled across the Irish Sea to get abortion care in the UK. The Abortion Support Network (ASN), a charity that helps people in Europe access abortion through telemedicine or by supporting travel, says every three days they hear from someone in Ireland looking for help.