Irish Government Poised to Fund Abortions Overseas
The Irish government has removed a ban on the use of overseas development aid for abortions. The Department of Foreign Affairs says it will launch a new initiative on “sexual and reproductive health and rights” in the developing world as part of the work of Irish Aid, the development aid programme of the government. The new plan is likely to take account of the changed Irish position on abortion and will set aside a previous rule against funding abortion. The ban on funding for abortion was in place because of a rule that aid should not be used for purposes in conflict with domestic Irish policy. In the past, Irish embassies abroad have specifically requested of aid recipient countries that they do not use Irish funding for abortion services.
In a statement, the department said: “Coherence with our domestic policies has always been a key priority for Ireland in our international development programmes and this will continue to be the case.
“With regard to sexual and reproductive health rights, we are liaising very closely with other government departments, in particular the Department of Health, and we are currently engaged in analysing the implications of the changes in our national legislation for our work in this area,” the department said.
Previously, Irish Aid said that it did not provide funding for abortion services, and stipulated a condition for aid that it should not be used for such activities as they were in conflict with Irish law.
Last week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney launched A Better World, a new policy on development aid which will guide the work of Irish Aid for the next decade. It promised “a new initiative around sexual and reproductive health and rights”.
“Access to health services, including access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, is fundamental for realising sexual and reproductive health rights and transforming women’s health outcomes,” the document says.
“Prioritising gender equality” is one of the four priorities of the new policy, along with “reducing humanitarian need”, “climate action” and “strengthening governance”.
Last year, Ireland spent almost €750 million on development aid, and has pledged to reach the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNP by the year 2030. In cash terms this will require increases of €100-€150 million every year for the next 10 years, Mr Coveney said at the launch of A Better World.
The Irish Times. March 4.