Senator Higgins joins EPF colleagues in calling on governments to ensure sexual and reproductive rights are protected during the COVID-19 emergency

Alice Mary Higgins 02 Blue
Alice Mary Higgins 02 Blue

Even during a crisis, women have sexual and reproductive healthcare needs which cannot wait. Governments should be supporting access to essential SRHR services - unfortunately some are actively using this as a chance to block it. As a member of the the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, I have been pressing governments across Europe to actively support access to SHRR in their own countries and across the wider world. Last week we produced a report on ’Sexual and Reproductive Rights during the COVID-19 pandemic’ which described how many women and girls are being left without essential medical services such as contraception and abortion care, HIV and STI testing, reproductive cancer screenings, and adequate pre and post-natal healthcare.

An IPPF survey showed 5.633 community-based care clinics closing across 64 countries, with African countries being the most heavily impacted. EU member states should be giving humanitarian and health support and including SHRR. In terms of particularly time-sensitive healthcare such as abortion, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Portugal have made provisions for remote support of medical abortions, while Poland and Romania seem to be using this crisis to undermine women’s access to rights and reproductive healthcare.

Amid this crisis we have also seen a huge increase in sexual and gender-based violence, an issue that all governments must address head on.

 

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Senator Higgins calls for the 26th Seanad to convene

Senator Higgins, Senator Lynn Ruane and Senator Frances Black wrote to the Taoiseach to affirm their position that the Seanad should be allowed to sit. They agreed with the analysis of the Constitution put forward by Senators Bacik, McDowell and others and believe that the 26th Seanad can indeed convene prior to the appointment of the Taoiseach’s eleven nominees and that the 49 members who have been elected should be allowed to express their mandate.

 Moreover, they noted that the Dáil has been meeting for a number of weeks now to engage with non-legislative parliamentary work including scrutiny and oversight of public policy and that the Seanad should also have the opportunity to engage in such scrutiny. 

They believe that as an absolute minimum, a date must be set for a sitting of the Seanad for the purpose of selecting a Cathoirleach and re-establishing a committee to order the business of the house.