belfasttelegraph.co.uk, 02 May 2015 by Victoria O’Hara
Sarah Ewart had to travel to England for an abortion
Sarah Ewart said she feels let down by the First Minister, adding that male politicians need to stop “taking control over women’s problems”.
Speaking last night Mrs Ewart said that although politicians were sympathetic to women diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormalities, none were sympathetic enough to “put their neck out” and change the law.
She spoke out after Mr Robinson stated that proposed draft guidelines for abortion offered a better way forward than legislation. Mrs Ewart claimed the DUP had previously offered support to change the law.
Justice Minister David Ford said Mr Robinson had done a “U-turn” on his position of having a free vote on the matter in the Assembly.
Mr Robinson has defended his stance on abortion as “completely consistent”.
Mrs Ewart, who had to travel to England in 2013 for a termination after being told her baby had a fatal foetal abnormality, said she and her family had been led to believe they were going to get support on the issue from a number of people in the DUP.
Read full article: www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk
Decision will not be appealed after court told interests of unborn had been fully considered
The three-judge High Court, comprising the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, Ms Justice Marie Baker and Ms Justice Caroline Costello found there was no genuine prospect the somatic process would lead to the birth of a live baby.
A young pregnant woman declared clinically brain dead more than three weeks ago may be taken off life support because there is no genuine prospect of her baby being born alive, a three-judge High Court has ruled.
Due to the woman’s rapidly deteriorating condition, the prospect for the unborn is “nothing but distress and death”, the court said.
After giving the court’s ruling, the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, said he was “grateful” to be told there will be no appeal to the Supreme Court.
The fact there will be no appeal means the woman’s family and partner may proceed with her burial.
It is understood life support in the case is likely to be withdrawn within the next 24 hours.
Conor Dignam SC, representing the interests of the unborn, said the court had found the right to life of the unborn set out in Article 40.3.3. the Constitution was engaged in this case and his side believed the court had fully considered and vindicated the interests of this particular unborn. Cormac Corrigan SC, representing the interests of the woman, said he was not appealing the ruling.
Pro-choice demonstrators in Dublin in 2012 (William Murphy, CC BY-SA 2.0)
New “exceptions” to the country’s total ban on abortion are worthless in practice.
Last week in Dublin I was part of an event, “Too Loud a Silence: Abortion and Censorship in Irish Media,” organized by an Irish activist group, the Abortion Rights Campaign, at the Teachers’ Club in Parnell Square. The room was packed with women, young and not-so-young, which is something you don’t always see at an American pro-choice event. I read from my no-longer-quite-so-new book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, and a splendid panel—social policy researcher Goretti Horgan, journalist Carol Hunt and activist Angela Coraccio—dissected the sorry state of reproductive rights in Ireland now, where abortion is banned except, theoretically, when the woman would die or commit suicide (we have the horrific death of Savita Halappanavar in 2013 to thank for the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, which provides that extremely narrow exemption). Penalty for taking an abortion pill like those bought on the Internet by women all over the world? Up to fourteen years in prison.
opendemocracy.net, 23 March 2015 by Goretti Horgan and Emma Campbell
The latest challenge to Northern Ireland’s abortion law is a very small step in the right direction, away from a post-conflict settlement in which women can be treated as secondary citizens.
Pressure is mounting on the Northern Ireland Assembly to make changes in the current abortion legislation. On the 2nd February, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) was granted the right to judicial review. They are seeking a change to allow for termination in the case of serious malformation of the foetus or sexual crimes, such as rape or incest.
Recently, the U.N.’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women reiterated its recommendation of this change. Yet despite repeated advice from international rights bodies and recommendations from the World Health Organization, the Assembly at Stormont steadfastly refuses to engage coherently with women’s bodily autonomy. Importantly, the Department of Health has refused to be involved, underlining the public suspicion that it is guided by religiosity, rather than concerns for public health and women’s safety.
Read full article: www.opendemocracy.net
Posted in politics on February 9th, 2015 by monika
irishtimes.com, Feb 5, 2015 by Eamonn McCann
Dr Alasdair McDonnell, SDLP. ‘Asked about pregnancy as a result of rape, McDonnell replied: “I know a number of people who are very good normal people…who were conceived as a result of what might be termed a crime”.’ Photograph: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker
In the High Court in Belfast on Monday the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission was given leave to apply for a judicial review of the operation of abortion law.
The commission wants a declaration that women have a right to abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality or of rape or incest. A formal hearing has been set for June.
The commission intervened following the ending last month of a Northern Ireland Department of Justice consultation on proposed changes to abortion law.
The consultation recommended legalisation on the grounds of fatal foetal abnormality, but didn’t suggest change with regard to rape or incest.
It is not certain that even the recommendation in relation to foetuses with no prospect of independent life will result in action at the Assembly.
DUP and SDLP leaders have spelled out their view that a woman carrying a foetus with a fatal condition should continue to be required by law to carry the pregnancy to full term, whether or not this is what she wants and irrespective of the implications for her mental or physical health.
Posted in politics on February 9th, 2015 by monika
telegraph.co.uk, Feb 4, 2015 by Tim Martin
Tara came from Northern Ireland to west London for an abortion Photo: BBC/Adam Patterson
Abortion: Ireland’s Guilty Secret? (BBC Three) was aptly named. In 1967, the Abortion Act made it legal for registered practitioners to terminate pregnancies across the UK at the mother’s request – except, that is, in Northern Ireland, where abortion is still illegal except if the mother’s life is at risk. Women who have been impregnated by rapists, or whose babies have abnormalities so severe that they won’t survive outside the womb, are forced to join the thousand-odd Northern Irish women who take budget airlines to the UK mainland each year to have abortions.
This fascinating documentary spoke to participants on both sides of the debate. The presenter, Alys Harte, met the 16-year-old “pro-life” activists, male and female, who campaign against abortion in downtown Belfast.
Read full article: www.telegraph.co.uk
www.humanrights.ie, Dec 26, 2014 By Máiréad Enright
The High Court handed down judgment in PP v. HSE today. The Irish Times provides a useful summary here. P., who was 15 weeks pregnant, died on December 3rd, but her body was subjected to medical processes to ‘facilitate the continuation of maternal organ supportive measures in an attempt to attain foetal viability’ for several more weeks. We call the experimental treatment her body received ‘somatic care’. ‘Somatic care’ seems a benign phrase, but it involved a tremendous amount of intervention designed to postpone the inevitable collapse and decay of P.’s other organs following the cessation of blood flow to her brain, thereby sustaining the pregnancy. Medical evidence given in court made clear that the eventual effects of these interventions on her appearance, and the consequent distress to her family, undermined her dignity in death. Nevertheless, doctors in both hospitals where she was treated apparently believed that the law required them to follow this unusual course of action, given that the foetus still had a heartbeat. By the time the case came to court, P.’s body was deteriorating rapidly. There was no real prospect that, even if treatment were continued, the pregnancy could be maintained until viability. Her family and partner wanted the somatic treatment discontinued, and her father applied to the court for this purpose. This morning, the High Court exercised its inherent jurisdiction and authorised P.’s doctors to discontinue treatment, at their discretion.
The judgment is, to my mind, a very strange one. I happened to be in Dublin when the case was being heard, and watched both days of the hearing. While it seemed clear to me that the court would grant the order, I did not anticipate the reasoning. This is not a conservative or cautious judgment. It seems to me to go further than was necessary to resolve the precise dispute before the court and, as such, it is likely to have significance for future cases. This is the first reported medical law case in which a court has used the Eighth Amendment outside of the direct abortion context. The court was invited by the plaintiff to hold, following Roche v. Roche and Baby O, that this case, since it is not about abortion, has nothing to do with the Eighth Amendment. But it insisted that the Eighth also creates an independent right to life of the unborn which applies to other cases. In addition, the court invents a new concept of the ‘best interests’ of the unborn child out of thin air. It is hard to predict what might happen to this concept in future cases.
The Abortion Rights Campaign have renewed their appeal for the Government to call a referendum to change abortion laws here.
It comes after the High Court yesterday ruled that life support in the case of a pregnant woman could be turned off.
The group says that the case highlights the need for 8th Amendment of the Constitution to be repealed.
Legal advice had prevented the withdrawal of life support up until this point because of the rights of the unborn as set out in the 8th amendment.
The woman, who is 26 and has two other children, was 15 weeks pregnant when she was pronounced clinically dead earlier this month.
Cathleen Doherty from the Abortion Rights Campaign, said that even though this case was now over, the Government still needed to take action to change the laws around terminations here.
“Ten women a day are still travelling (for abortions), and women and their families who have been given diagnoses of fatal foetal abnormalities are obliged to travel,” she said.
“We’re going to continue to do the hard work around education and interacting with the public and our elected officials to show them just how important an issue this is.”