Ireland’s strict anti-abortion laws violate fundamental human rights and endanger the health of women, according to human-rights group Amnesty International. In a new report released on Tuesday, the group said more than 4,000 women travel to England and Wales each year to get an abortion, despite the loosening of Ireland’s laws in 2013 that allowed an exception for an abortion if the woman’s life is at risk. Irish law remains unclear on what exactly constitutes a risk to a woman’s life, however, and many women are prevented from getting an abortion legally. “Women and girls who need abortions are treated like criminals, stigmatized and forced to travel abroad, taking a serious toll on their mental and physical health. The Irish state can no longer ignore this reality, and the appalling impact it is having on thousands of people every year,” said Amnesty International’s secretary general Salil Shetty. The report comes on the heels of last month’s referendum, where more than 60 percent of voters backed a constitutional amendment to legalize same-sex marriages, an outcome interpreted by many as the sign of a “shift in attitude” in one of western Europe’s most Catholic and conservative societies. Amnesty International is now actively calling on Ireland to decriminalize abortion. “The outcome of the marriage referendum shows that Ireland is ready to dismantle the architecture of discrimination and anti-gay views. It is about time to dismantle the discrimination that women face,” said Christina Zampas, Amnesty International’s Senior Legal Advisor and author of the report.
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