PP v HSE: Practicability, Dignity and the Best Interests of the Unborn Child.

Posted in politics on January 3rd, 2015 by monika

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.

Read full article: humanrights.ie

Abortion Rights Campaign renews appeal for new abortion referendum

Posted in politics on January 3rd, 2015 by monika

breakingnews.ie, 27/12/2014

ReferendumVotinga2013_largeThe 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.”

Read full article: www.breakingnews.ie

“Putting the abortion laws into the Constitution was a mistake”

Posted in politics on January 3rd, 2015 by monika

thejournal.ie, 29.12.2014

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Labour TD Ruairi Quinn has said there is “no question” that Ireland’s abortion laws will change.
FORMER MINISTER FOR Education Ruairí Quinn has said that it was a mistake to add the 1983 amendment to the Constitution which gives equal rights to the unborn.
The Labour TD also said that he believes there is “no question” that Ireland’s abortion laws will become more liberal, and that the current regime means women with money can access abortion in ways that poorer women can’t.
“Putting the abortion laws into the Constitution was a mistake at the time, and it is still a mistake now,” he said.
“In our unequal society, those that can afford to go and get abortions in England will be able to do so, and those that can’t afford to will always suffer the consequences,” he told The Sunday Show on Newstalk.
He made the comments amid renewed calls for a referendum on the 8th Amendment after the recent case involving a pregnant woman who was clinically dead but was kept on life support against her family’s wishes.
The former Minister for Education also said that he believes Labour’s poor showing in opinion polls over the past two years is not permanent.
“Look, I don’t know how many times the Labour Party has been buried, but it keeps on coming out of the ground,” he said. ”I can tell you the number of parties that have disappeared [during the same period”.

Read full article: www.thejournal.ie

Abortion ban a bitter pill to swallow, say campaigners

Posted in politics on October 30th, 2014 by monika
A GROUP of pro-choice campaigners took banned abortion pills after travelling over the Border by train to collect them from the North.

A GROUP of pro-choice campaigners took banned abortion pills after travelling over the Border by train to collect them from the North.

campus.ie, Oct. 2014

Socialist TD Ruth Coppinger took the “safe, non-surgical abortion pill” during a rally held outside Connolly Station in Dublin yesterday afternoon, after the group of 30 campaigners returned from collecting the abortion pills in Belfast.
They had ordered them online on ‘Women on Web’ and had them delivered to addresses in the North.
A number of women from pro-choice campaigns, including ROSA, Action for Choice and Real Productive Health, also took the abortion pill, which is illegal to purchase here. None of the women who took the pills is currently pregnant.
The Dublin-West representative said their journey to Belfast was an attempt to re-enact the contraceptive train of the 1970s, and they were joined by several other TDs, including the recently elected Paul Murphy, Richard Boyd Barrett and Joe Higgins.
“The main purpose of this event was to highlight the ongoing hypocrisy of the ban on abortion in this country. Because, despite the ban, thousands of women leave the country every year, or go to the North to collect these pills, and that’s not going to stop by banning abortion,” the mother of one said.
“We need to repeal the eighth amendment (to the Constitution) now and it’s absolutely urgent for women’s health and lives.”
Read full article: campus.ie

Majority of voters want abortion law liberalised

Posted in politics on October 14th, 2014 by monika

irishtimes.com, Mon, Oct 13, 2014, by Stephen Collins


Referendum posters on a pedestrian bridge in Dublin in 2002

A large majority of voters would like to see another referendum on abortion to liberalise the current law, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.
Asked if a referendum should be held on whether or not to permit abortion in cases of rape or where the foetus will not be born alive, 68 per cent said they were in favour, 23 per cent against and 9 per cent had no opinion.
Labour voters were the most strongly in favour, with 72 per cent of them backing the move.
Supporters of all parties were almost equally strong in support of a referendum on the issue, with Fianna Fáil voters being the least enthusiastic about the prospect.
There was a significant variation across the age groups, with the older voters less inclined to support another referendum with the over-65s being least enthusiastic.
Among the over-65s, 51 per cent said they wanted another referendum, but 40 per cent said they did not.
By contrast, 77 per cent of the 18- to 24-year-olds favoured a referendum with just 12 per cent against. Middle class voters were marginally more supportive of another referendum than working class voters, but there was no significant variation.
Read full article: www.irishtimes.com

Protest at treatment of suicidal, raped & pregnant migrant denied an abortion, Dublin, 20th August

Posted in politics on September 1st, 2014 by monika

Watch the video © Paula Geraghty:

Thousands at Dublin pro-choice march over Irish abortion laws

Posted in politics on August 29th, 2014 by monika

Maja Todorovic from Blanchardstown during a pro-choice demonstration on O’ Connell Street, Dublin.Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

irishtimes.com, 20. August 2014,  by Aine McMahon

Not the church, not the State, women must control their fate’, protesters chant.
Some 2,000 people turned out at the Spire on Dublin’s O’Connell street to protest at Ireland’s abortion laws.
The demonstration was organised by a number of pro-choice groups, including Choice Ireland and the Abortion Rights campaign in the midst of the latest abortion controversy.
Protestors chanted “not the church, not the State, women must control their fate” and “abortion rights now.”
Many protestors held signs which said “repeal the eighth” while other slogans included “I’m not a vessel” and “Raped, Pregnant, Suicidal, Forced C-Section – Ireland 2014”.

Gardaí at the march estimated that 1,500 to 2,000 people attended while organisers said up to 3,000 people had attended.

Protester Niamh Hanley said “I don’t believe in our political system and I don’t think anything will change unless we stand up and use our voice.” Jennifer Brennan said “I think this young woman has been treated appallingly. I think that we can do alot better for women in this country and for women who come from overseas.” Richard Hamilton said he came out to march because “the current law does not seem to be workable.”
Read full article: www.irishtimes.com

Abortion and the law – an open letter

Posted in politics on August 23rd, 2014 by monika

irishtimes.com, Sat, Aug 23, 2014

Sir, – Any women who has the right to travel and sufficient funds will be able to go to England to have an abortion, if she decides to do so. Any women whose right to travel is restricted or who does not have access to that money will, however, be subject to the new legislation, having to face a panel that decides on her fate. The issue of being suicidal is not really of any consequence here.
The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution and the new legislation only ever affect an already disadvantaged and marginalised minority. Everybody else deals with a termination the way they decide for themselves and does not have to worry about these things too much, as there is always the option of a trip to England.
At the inevitable next abortion referendum, most Irish voters will therefore again be in a position to contemplate the sanctity of life and the right of the unborn in the safe knowledge that the issue is really only an academic one for them.
And they might even feel pleased with themselves for having taken a “moral stand”. – Yours, etc,
Co Roscommon.
Sir, – When will the conversation turn from women’s reproductive rights (which are many, let’s be frank, from myriad forms of contraception to the morning-after pill to the freedom, albeit fiscally defined at present, to decide to abort a pregnancy) to men’s reproductive rights, which are basically nil? When are we going to discuss a father’s rights? – Yours, etc,
Ballinlough Road,
Sir, – I would like to thank Ruth Cullen for her considered and intelligent column on abortion (“Advocates of abortion ignoring a little truth”, Opinion, August 21st). It is by far the most level-headed and caring piece I have read on the subject.
I need to add that I am not a practising member of any religion and my thoughts on the subject centre on the care we should give young women and their babies in a crisis pregnancy. – Yours, etc,
Seafield Court,
Co Dublin.
Sir, – In her trenchant defence of the pro-life campaign’s position on Article 40.3.3 of Bunreacht na hÉireann, Dr Ruth Cullen writes: “Thanks in significant part to our constitutional protection of the unborn child the Irish abortion rate is far lower than Britain’s”. If the Eighth Amendment were to be repealed, it’s fair to assume there would be a marked decrease in Britain’s abortion rate. – Yours, etc,
Beacon Hill,
Co Dublin.
Sir, – We are people in or from Ireland. We are under the age of 50. We could not vote in the 1983 abortion referendum which profoundly limited women’s autonomy. No subsequent referendum has provided an opportunity to undo that damage. Many of us have lived our whole lives under an abortion regime in which we have had no say. As a generation we have grown up knowing that the State would compel us to travel if we wished to exercise substantive control over our reproductive lives. We never allowed ourselves to think, at least since Miss X, that we lived under a regime willing in principle to marshal its power against a distressed young woman to compel her to carry her pregnancy to viability.
We have never been given the democratic opportunity to expand the circumstances in which an abortion can be sought in Ireland. We have repeatedly asked for this chance, but the State failed to listen. The law punishes women in our name, but never bore our mark. We are disappointed and concerned by the latest news, but we know that disappointment and concern are not enough. It is time that this generation had its referendum. That referendum must transform the law on access to abortion care.

Read the full letter: www.irishtimes.com/letters

The case for repealing the Eighth Amendment

Posted in politics on August 19th, 2014 by monika

irishtimes.com, Tue, Aug 19, 2014

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, enacted following the death of Savita Halappanavar, was meant to bring to an end the agonising about Ireland’s abortion regime and the long failure to legislate for the existing constitutional provision. The news that a vulnerable and suicidal young rape victim was denied an abortion in a timely way and ended up having a Caesarean section to deliver her baby prematurely shows that it has signally failed to do so.

The facts of the case, as we know them, are horrific. The young woman came to Ireland following a traumatic rape in her own country, resulting in pregnancy. She immediately told certain statutory authorities (though apparently not the HSE) she wanted an abortion. She was not directed to the appropriate medical services. Her circumstances were such that she could not travel abroad for an abortion, so she was forced to continue with the pregnancy against her will, as evidenced by the fact that she went on hunger and thirst strike. When she eventually obtained medical help she was found by the panel of experts to be suicidal, but they considered it was too late for an abortion and medical intervention, also against her will, became necessary to save her life and that of the child.

Read full article: www.irishtimes.com

The Guardian view on Ireland’s new abortion law: no choice at all

Posted in politics on August 17th, 2014 by monika

The Guardian, Sunday 17 August 2014

Inquest into miscarriage deathLittle seems to have changed in the Republic of Ireland’s profoundly anti-abortion stance since Savita Halappanavar died of sepsis in a Galway hospital two years ago.’ Photograph: The Irish Times/PA

Ireland’s abortion act promised access to abortion at least in a few cases. In practice, it seems to have made no difference at all.
A vulnerable young woman in Ireland has been forced to give birth by caesarean section, even though she was so desperate for an abortion she was ready to starve to death rather than have the baby. These are almost the only known details of one of the first appeals for permission for an abortion to take place since the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act – allowing for the first time very limited abortion – came into effect at the start of the year. Scant as it is, the news appears to confirm that little has changed in the country’s profoundly anti-abortion stance since Savita Halappanavar died of sepsis in a Galway hospital after being denied an abortion two years ago.
The act, which was a response not just to the Galway tragedy but to a 20-year-old supreme court ruling, was supposed to be revolutionary. But it is so tightly drawn that only where a mother’s life is physically at risk, or where she is suicidal, could the process of approving an abortion even be launched. Victims of rape and incest are explicitly excluded. Then, earlier this month, the Guardian obtained the clinical guidelines under which it operated. They are so restrictively framed that women and girls in severe distress because of unwanted pregnancies continue to face cumbersome and distressing barriers. They could have to see as many as seven different medical professionals before a request for a termination is granted. In effect, as this weekend’s case appears to show, it makes abortion all but impossible even for a suicidal woman.
Read full article: www.theguardian.com