Louth TD Gerry Adams has described Sinn Féin’s all-Ireland women’s healthcare policy document – ‘A Vision for Women’s Healthcare’ – as “a vital step forward for women’s health on the island of Ireland.”
Gerry Adams TD said:
“Fundamental inequalities confront women every day in the delivery of health services in both states on this island. Historically women have suffered many injustices and especially in the provision of health care. This year alone we have witnessed the scandal of cervical check and there is the current controversy surrounding the use of the vaginal mesh implant.
In the past women suffered from the use of symphysiotomy and of thalidomide. Symphysiotomy was essentially institutional abuse, involving acts of butchery against women citizens. Women have been the victims of bad government policy and social and economic discrimination, from the Magdalene laundries to the mother and baby homes.
According to Women’s Aid one-in-five women will be victim of male violence. For women, violence also includes, but is not limited to, domestic violence, forced marriage, rape and sexual assault, crimes in the name of honour, murder, trafficking and sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, sexual harassment and stalking. It causes physical damage ranging from death to miscarriages to broken limbs. Sexual offences can also result in sexually transmitted diseases and forced pregnancies, as well as leaving long-term psychological damage.
Mental health problems affect women and men equally but some are more common among women. Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders are found to affect women in higher numbers. The National Women’s Council of Ireland stated: ‘In examining women’s mental health we need to reflect that women are more likely to be poor, to parent alone, to be the main provider of unpaid care work, to be in precarious employment, to earn low wages and to be at risk of domestic or sexual violence.’
Sinn Féin believes that the voices of women must be heard when it comes to healthcare. In this comprehensive policy document, which makes almost 140 separate recommendations we are proposing a range of measures including:
- · the creation of a single tier health system where healthcare is provided free on the basis of need and not the ability to pay;
· a healthcare system that is sensitive to and reflects gender differences;
· healthcare standards that are consistent, evidence based and applicable to all providers; free proscription drugs;
· VAT on sanitary products to be removed;
· the provision of free mammograms for women in risk categories for breast cancer;
· education and awareness programmes for breast, cervical and ovarian cancer;
· the provision of contraceptives and emergency contraception free of charge;
· the provision of a termination in line with the recommendations of the Oireachtas 8th Amendment Committee and the draft legislation on termination of pregnancy which was published in advance of the 8th Amendment Referendum;
· the adoption of a health strategy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people;
· the establishment of peri-natal mental health units working together, located north and south.
Sinn Féin does not claim to have identified all the issues in the delivery of health services for women across Ireland. Nor do we claim to have advocated all the solutions. However, our policy document outlines Sinn Féin’s vision for women’s health care in Ireland, a vision that is based on the principles of fairness and equality which we can all work towards together.”
For further details on the document please visit sinnfein.ie