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.”
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”.
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.
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
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