The wording of the 1983 “pro-life” amendment to the Constitution was hastily approved despite one attorney general labelling it a legal “time bomb” and another expressing doubts about its merits, newly released State papers show.
On November 2nd, 1982, two days before a vote of no confidence in the Dáil, which led to a general election the following month, the then Fianna Fáil government announced the wording of the anti-abortion amendment, which went on to be approved by the electorate.
This was despite the government being warned by attorney general Patrick Connolly SC that a “pro-life” amendment “might well have the effect of threatening the right of the mother” to have a life-saving operation.
Foreseeing some of the problems thrown up by the 1992 X case, Mr Connolly noted that, “whatever my personal views be”, a rape victim could not be exempted from any constitutional prohibition.
Nor, “in the current climate of what it is sought to achieve”, could the amendment exempt abortion where the mental health of a woman was at serious risk.
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A LABOUR TD has said that Cardinal Seán Brady’s Christmas message ‘misrepresented’ the legal position within which the Oireachtas is required to legislate for abortion.
Clare Labour TD Michael McNamara expressed his “disappointment that Cardinal Brady took the opportunity of his Christmas message to again misrepresent the legal position within which the Oireachtas is required to legislate, as well as the proposed content of that legislation” this morning.
In his Christmas message yesterday, Cardinal Brady urged Irish people to protest against plans to legislate for abortion.
Read full article by Aoife Barry here
Some of the language used in the ongoing debate on abortion in the State is “disconcerting”, Minster of State for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch has said.
Ms Lynch said she found it “very worrying” to hear phrases such as “culture of death” being used by some of those who were opposing the Government’s plans to introduce legislation and regulations to allow limited abortion.
The Labour Party TD said there was a need to ensure there was a tolerance and acceptance of other views in the State.
Leo O’Reilly, the Bishop of Kilmore, said earlier this week that the Government proposals represented “the first step on the road to a culture of death”. He added that “once you say one human life can be directly destroyed, no human life is safe”.
His comments came after the Cabinet this week announced how it intended to respond to a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the abortion situation in Ireland. The Cabinet decided its preferred option was a combination of legislation and regulation that would give effect to the 1992 X case judgment. That judgment held that abortion was permissible where there was a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, as distinct to her health. Such a risk included the threat of suicide.
Ms Lynch said the church had a right and a duty to express its opinions on the subject but that some of the language that had been used was “unfortunate”.
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WHERE was Cardinal Sean Brady’s conscience when he helped hush-up the crimes of a child rapist?
It is a timely question, because he is now lecturing us on what our consciences should lead us to do.
The statement he issued with the three other Catholic archbishops, in response to government plans to legislate for the X-Case ruling, is big on the concept of conscience — it is a shame the cardinal’s own conscience was lacking when he had abuse victims sign secrecy agreements, instead of speaking out and saving other children from being raped.
Regarding the X-Case legislation, the archbishops’ statement says: "On a decision of such fundamental moral importance, every public representative is entitled to complete respect for the freedom of conscience. No one has the right to force or coerce someone to act against their conscience. Respect for this right is the very foundation of a free, civilised and democratic society."
The dictionary definition of the word ‘conscience’ is: "The awareness of a moral or ethical aspect to one’s conduct, together with the urge to prefer right over wrong."
In 1975, Cardinal Brady was part of team of clerics that interviewed a 14-year-old boy who had been abused for two years by the paedophile, Fr Brendan Smyth.
The boy told the panel about other victims of Smyth, yet he was sworn to secrecy.
One of the other victims was interviewed by Brady. The boy’s parents were never told about the interview, nor about the abuse he suffered.
Full article by Shaun Connolly here
The husband of the late Savita Halappanavar is “not at all happy” at the failure to deliver a preliminary report into his wife’s death before Christmas.
Praveen Halappanavar and his solicitor, Gerard O’Donnell, met Minister for Health James Reilly in Athlone on Wednesday night, at the request of the Minister.
They had been assured last month that they would receive a preliminary report “before Christmas” from the Health Service Executive inquiry into the death on October 28th of Ms Halappanavar (31) at Galway University Hospital. Mr O’Donnell says they expected to receive this at the Athlone meeting.
Ms Halappanavar died at the Galway hospital seven days after she had presented with back pain at its maternity unit. She had been 17 weeks pregnant and was found to be miscarrying. Her husband says she asked repeatedly over a three-day period for a termination but was refused as there was a foetal heartbeat present and they were told “this is a Catholic country”.
An autopsy carried out by Dr Grace Callagy two days later found she died of septicaemia “documented ante-mortem” and E.coli ESBL.
The HSE inquiry into her death was established on November 20th under the chairman ship of Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George’s Hospital, University of London.
Read full article by Kitty Holland here
The Government announced today that a combination of legislation and regulations will be introduced to comply with the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the A, B and C case.
Minister for Health James Reilly presented a memorandum to this morning’s Cabinet meeting. The decision was taken to follow this route – the fourth option from the expert group on abortion - rather than proposing guidelines, an option favoured by anti-abortion campaign groups.
A statement released by the Department of Health said: "Having considered the report of the of the Expert Group on the judgment in A, B and C v Ireland the Government has decided that the implementation of this judgement by way of legislation with regulations offers the most appropriate method for dealing with the issue."
In a statement, the Government said the drafting of legislation, supported by regulations, will be within the parameters of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the X case. "It was also agreed to make appropriate amendments to the criminal law in this area," it said.
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THE Cabinet has decided to bring in legislation and regulations on abortion.
A statement clearly indicates the regulation and legislation will include the threat of suicide being grounds for abortion.
“Having considered the report of the of the Expert Group on the judgment in A, B and C v Ireland the Government has decided that the implementation of this judgement by way of legislation with regulations offers the most appropriate method for dealing with the issue.
“The drafting of legislation, supported by regulations, will be within the parameters of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the X case. It was also agreed to make appropriate amendments to the criminal law in this area.”
Full article by Fionnan Sheahan here
The Government is to introduce legislation and regulation to allow for abortion in certain cases when a woman's life is at risk, including the threat of suicide.
Legislation in line with the Supreme Court X case will be drafted over the coming months by Health Minister James Reilly.
But, controversially, the legislation will be in line with the Supreme Court interpretation in the X case, meaning the threat of suicide will be legislated for as a risk to the life of a woman.
In a statement the Government said they will provide clarity for the medical profession about what is permissable. Doctors will still have to take full account of the equal right to life of the unborn child.
The option was favored in the report of the expert group on abortion law which was considered at Cabinet today.
The Government said in a statement on the form of action to be taken in the light of the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in 'A,B and C v Ireland' that "legislation with regulations offers the most appropriate method for dealing with the issue".
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Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald has rejected suggestions that women might use the threat of suicide as a way of securing an abortion.
She said it made no sense to brand women as “duplicitous and untrustworthy, likely to claim suicidal thoughts and pull the wool over the eyes of the medical profession in an effort to seek the option of an abortion”.
Ms Fitzgerald added: “Since when has it become permissible to make such bald and dismissive statements about women and people presenting with serious mental health problems?”
Read full article by Michael O'Regan here
Fine Gael: More than a dozen Fine Gael TDs have indicated publicly ahead of today’s Cabinet decision on abortion that they have reservations about legislation that would include the risk of suicide among the grounds for abortion.
While most of the TDs have said inside and outside the Dáil that they will study the proposals and partake fully in the extended debates, a number have publicly stated they oppose the proposition that the threat of suicide constitutes a risk to the life of the mother.
They include the Mayo TD John O’Mahony and James Bannon, who represents Longford and Westmeath.
Speaking ahead of today’s announcement by Cabinet, Mr O’Mahony said: “There is a lot of concern about the suicide. I will support any measures that supports the life of the unborn and that of the mother.
“I have to be convinced about any inclusion of suicide. I feel very strongly about this. People know my views. I will be voting according to my views on it,” he said.
When asked about suicide being included in the legislation, he said: “I hope that good judgment will prevail and I hope that [suicide] will be outside the legislation.”
Full article by Harry McGee here