Abortion Controversy in Ireland Provokes Rape Debate

Ireland’s Attorney General Michael McDowell claimed on July 30th that women would make false rape accusations if the Irish government allowed survivors of rape to have abortions. Abortions remain illegal in all cases except endangerment of the mother’s life in the Republic of Ireland. But little evidence exists to support McDowell’s claim, according to Olive Braiden, director of the Rape Crisis Center. In fact, the new focus on false accusations of rape neglects the reality of this pervasive crime, while trivializing the debilitating experiences that rape survivors undergo. “When you consider the time a rape victim has to wait, the trauma, the lengths you have to go to and the low number of convictions, I felt the point he made absolutely jarred with any woman in this situation,” Braiden commented.

Recent reports indicate that approximately 6,000 women a year travel to Britain for abortions. Amid recent criticism from the United Nations Human Rights Committee, legislators and religious groups, most prominently from the Catholic Church, are mired in an intense debate over a possible reform of abortion laws.


Reuters 31 July 2000

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