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Dateline: Ireland's Abortion Debate
Ireland's Abortion Debate
Season 1  |  Episode 15  |  SBS  |  May 22, 2018
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In Ireland, women can go to jail for getting an abortion, even in cases of rape. As the country votes on whether to change its conservative abortion laws, we take the pulse of a nation divided down the middle.
On May 25, Ireland heading to the polls in a landmark referendum that could finally overturn its abortion laws.
Enshrined in the country's constitution is the protection of the unborn’s right to life – but at what cost?
Dateline reporter Shaunagh Connaire goes to the heart of the referendum debate to meet women and families from both sides of a bitterly divisive issue.
Hitting the streets of Waterford, Shaunagh meets a new generation of young, grassroots campaigners called the Youth Defence who are fighting hard to keep Ireland abortion free.
“This is a human rights issue," explains Christine Darcy, a trainee teacher working for Youth Defence.
"We have constitutional protection of the unborn, like an equal right to life for the mother and the baby. Why would we take that out of our constitution?"
For many Irish women, the current laws are driving them to extreme lengths - In 2016, 3,265 Irish women travelled to the UK to get an abortion.
Due to the expense, and lack of local support, most make the trip in one day, risking their health in the process.
"I was given a card with a number on it in order to protect your identity," says one such woman Cathy, who paid £400 for her surgical abortion in a Manchester clinic.
“It’s really heartbreaking to know that you are almost being exported; that this country doesn’t want to know about your problems or your issues.”

In Ireland, women can go to jail for getting an abortion, even in cases of rape. As the country votes on whether to change its conservative abortion laws, we take the pulse of a nation divided down the middle.
On May 25, Ireland heading to the polls in a landmark referendum that could finally overturn its abortion laws.
Enshrined in the country's constitution is the protection of the unborn’s right to life – but at what cost?
Dateline reporter Shaunagh Connaire goes to the heart of the referendum debate to meet women and families from both sides of a bitterly divisive issue.
Hitting the streets of Waterford, Shaunagh meets a new generation of young, grassroots campaigners called the Youth Defence who are fighting hard to keep Ireland abortion free.
“This is a human rights issue," explains Christine Darcy, a trainee teacher working for Youth Defence.
"We have constitutional protection of the unborn, like an equal right to life for the mother and the baby. Why would we take that out of our constitution?"
For many Irish women, the current laws are driving them to extreme lengths - In 2016, 3,265 Irish women travelled to the UK to get an abortion.
Due to the expense, and lack of local support, most make the trip in one day, risking their health in the process.
"I was given a card with a number on it in order to protect your identity," says one such woman Cathy, who paid £400 for her surgical abortion in a Manchester clinic.
“It’s really heartbreaking to know that you are almost being exported; that this country doesn’t want to know about your problems or your issues.”

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