The Life Institute has said that the process by which the public can make submissions to the three-year abortion review seems designed to limit access to the public, especially in regard to minorities, those who were disadvantaged and those who were older.
The pro-life group was speaking as they urged people to make their voices heard to the Review, given what they described as the “horrific outcomes” of the abortion legislation thus far.
They said they had written to the office charged with gathering public submissions and to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, regarding the process.
“We are writing to you on behalf of a significant number of concerned citizens who feel that the process for public submissions is unnecessarily cumbersome and seems constructed to make accessibility more difficult for sections of the public, especially those who are disadvantaged, those who may have difficulty accessing an online form, and to older people,” the letter said.
They said that the undue emphasis on the public using a cumbersome online form could be interpreted as a bid to make the process “deliberately difficult”.
“We have been contacted, for example, by a large number of people who said that they sent a submission in by mail because they found the online form difficult to follow,” the Institute said. “After several emails to the office dealing with the matter, and with the Minister, the Bioethics 2 Unit informed us, after considerable delay, that those with “accessibility needs” would be supported with their submission.”
“Another concern we’ve heard is from people for whom English is not their first language,” they said. “A large group of healthcare workers who’ve come here from abroad said that they had hundreds of people who found the online form confusing, and wanted to send a written submission. These are key voices and must be heard.”
“It is unprecedented, as far as we are aware, for a Department to appear to suggest to members of the public that they are required to navigate an awkward and perhaps inaccessible online system to make their voices heard.”
The Life Institute said the Abortion Review was already fraught with concern since both the Chair and the lead researcher were on record as supporting repeal of the 8th or indicating support for same.
“Will the review look at the catalogue of horrors that has emerged from the sharp increase in abortion rates to the abortion of a healthy baby on the grounds of disability?” they asked. “This should be a transparent review, not a whitewash”.