Yes campaigners say proposed abortion laws would allow 'compassionate care' for rape victims

Women's Aid says the Eighth Amendment "brings additional trauma" to women experiencing violence

Yes campaigners say proposed abortion laws would allow 'compassionate care' for rape victims

Margaret Martin (Director of Women’s Aid), Maeve Eogan (Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Rotunda Hospital); Niamh Ní Dhomhnaill (rape survivor, campaigner and assistant psychologist); and Orla O'Connor (Director of the NWCI), at the Together For Yes Campaign Headquarters in Dublin. Photograph: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

The pro-choice group Together for Yes has launched a paper highlighting the importance of removing the Eighth Amendment for rape victims.

Campaigners in favour of repeal say the Government's proposals for abortion legislation if the referendum is passed are 'workable and reasonable'.

The Government is proposing access to abortion without restriction for up to 12 weeks, with a 72 hour cooling-off period between a termination being requested and carried out.

After 12 weeks, abortions would only be allowed in exceptional circumstances - such as a fatal foetal abnormality, or when there is serious risk to the health or life of the woman.

Pro-life campaigners have argued repeal 'equals abortion on demand', suggesting 'there is no such thing as restrictive abortion'.

In contrast, the Together For Yes campaign - the umbrella group including dozens of agencies in favour of repeal - suggests the proposed legislation would ensure women and girls have "appropriate medical care and support, counselling and post-abortion care".

They also say removing the Eighth Amendment will allow for the "provision of compassionate, non-judgmental care to women and girls who are pregnant as a result of rape".

'Additional trauma'

Together For Yes today launched its policy in support of the Government's proposals.

Groups such as the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) and the Rape Crisis Network are among those supporting the proposals.

Women's Aid is among the agencies calling for a 'Yes' vote in the referendum, saying they believe the Eighth Amendment "brings additional trauma to women experiencing sexual and domestic violence".

The organisation's director Margaret Martin says domestic and sexual abuse has consequences on women's reproductive health - including potential forced or unplanned pregnancies.

She also observed: "Something that might not be to the fore of people’s minds when discussing the impact of the Eighth Amendment is the very real restrictive methods domestic abusers use to track their partners. We hear from women who are being stalked and monitored online.

"Abusive partners use a range of digital tools to monitor women, find out her online and bank account passwords and keep track of her whereabouts. These tactics significantly impact on her freedom of movement, her privacy and her help-seeking, for example, her ability travel outside the jurisdiction or to source abortion pills from outside Ireland."

Together For Yes campaign co-director Orla O'Connor added: "Women and girls who become pregnant as a result of rape must have access to all healthcare supports they need. This means that a woman pregnant as a result of rape must be protected and allowed to end the pregnancy if that is what she decides to do.

"Allowing a woman or girl in these circumstances up to 12 weeks to access an abortion will provide her with the time and support she needs, and means that she will not be forced to disclose or report a rape to access the healthcare she needs."

The referendum on the Eighth Amendment will take place on May 25th.