SECOND OPINION: At last women who give birth in Irish hospitals may have at least one of their human rights respected and vindicated. The Report of the Expert group on the Judgment in A, B and C v Ireland says that legislation to regulate access to lawful termination of pregnancy in Ireland is “constitutionally, legally and procedurally sound”.

The State must “provide effective and accessible procedures to establish a woman’s right to an abortion as well as access to such treatment”.

Maternal mortality rates are often quoted by anti-abortion campaigners to show that new legislation is not needed because Ireland’s maternity services are among the best in the world. These rates are meaningless when used to support an anti-abortion stance.

A 2012 analysis of maternal mortality in European perinatal health surveillance systems, including Ireland, shows that current data are insufficient for comparison between countries, because the tiny numbers and statistical variability from year to year are difficult to interpret.

Read full article by JACKY JONES here
 
 
THE ABORTION BILL put forward by Clare Daly was defeated by a remarkable 101 votes to 27 last week, despite the blustering showboating of many TDs following the death of Savita Halappanavar.

We need legislation to allow Irish doctors to make confident decisions on the care of their patients; there’s no getting around that. Our public representatives are aware of that. The question, really, is not if legislation will be enacted, but when. Ireland’s politicians will dither, waffle on about the need for reflection, and hop from foot to foot wringing their hands, their delaying the inevitable conveniently acting as a sort of political appeasement to those who would oppose the legislation.

In short, they’ll sit on the fence up to the point where they can claim they only moved because they were pushed off.

And this is for medically-necessary abortion: termination in cases where pregnancy endangers the mother’s life, including by risk of suicide. Many of those who are advocating abortion legislation stress this. Medically-necessary. Extreme situations. Last resorts. Abortion-on-demand, we are told, is a different kettle of fish entirely.

Even the term is loaded, isn’t it? Abortion-on-demand. It suggests unreasonable women stamping their feet until they get their own way, abortion as another facet of a culture of insufferable entitlement. Its structure dissuades objection, but all the same it begs the question: what’s so terrible about abortion-on-demand?

 
 
THERE is broad agreement that the Dáil must provide a legislative framework for a woman’s right to an abortion when her life depends on it, yet division persists about the inclusion of suicide as a risk to life.

People on the anti-choice side of thedebate, citing the UK’s 1967 Abortion Act, say that inclusion of suicide in any legislation would open the floodgates to abortion-on-demand in this country. 

This claim is specious. Legislation here would have to comply with the constitutional position that an abortion can only be countenanced when there is "real and substantial risk" to the life of the woman. 

In contrast, the UK’s decades-old liberalisation of its laws provided for an abortion in circumstances where "the termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman" or when "there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped". 

You don’t have to be a legal expert to appreciate that the Oireachtas is precluded, by the pre-eminent legal authority in this country — the Constitution — from enacting similar provisions here. 

Full article by Colette Browne here

 
 
The Irish Catholic Bishops have seen fit to clarify the church’s view on gynecology given Savita Halappanavar’s death from sepsis at 17 weeks in her pregnancy and the concern that evacuating her uterus was delayed because the fetus still had a heart beat. The full statement is here, but this is the excerpt I find most troubling:

- Whereas abortion is the direct and intentional destruction of an unborn baby and is gravely immoral in all circumstances, this is different from medical treatments which do not directly and intentionally seek to end the life of the unborn baby. Current law and medical guidelines in Ireland allow nurses and doctors in Irish hospitals to apply this vital distinction in practice while upholding the equal right to life of both a mother and her unborn baby.

I spent quite sometime trying to understand how one could possibly translate this statement into medical care. I’ve been a doctor for 22 years and an OB/GYN for 17 years and I admit that I am at a bit of a loss. My three interpretations are as follows.

  • Terminating a pregnancy is “gravely immoral in all circumstances.” All circumstances includes 17 weeks and ruptured membranes. Unless I misunderstand the meaning of “all,” then Irish Catholic Bishops also view ending a pregnancy at 17 weeks with ruptured membranes and sepsis, either by induction of labor or the surgical dilation and evaluation (D & E), to be “gravely immoral.” They must also view ending a pregnancy for a woman who previously had postpartum cardiomyopathy and a 50% risk of death in her pregnancy as “gravely immoral.” So if you have a medical condition that is rapidly deteriorating because of your pregnancy, too bad for you if you live in Ireland. Because the mother and unborn baby have equal rights to life, Irish law spares women the anguish of choosing their own life. Neither can be first, so both must die.

Full article by Dr Jen Gunter here
 
 
TIMELINE: This is the story of one woman’s death in an Irish hospital, based on the account given by her husband and friends

Savita Halappanavar was admitted to Galway University Hospital with back pain. She was 17 weeks pregnant. Seven days later she was dead. The hospital has said it cannot comment on individual cases and in relation to Ms Halappanavar, it must await the outcome of official investigations.

October 20th 

It’s a Saturday night, and Savita Halappanavar (31) and her husband Praveen (34) are holding a small get-together at their home in the Roscam area of Galway. It’s both a farewell dinner for her parents who are returning to India soon and an opportunity to announce to friends they are expecting a baby. Savita is 17 weeks pregnant. “Savita was very excited, very happy,” recalls Praveen. “All our close friends came to congratulate us.”

Picture

 
 
Moving, incredible video of the protest today. 
 
 
Over 2,000 attend another vigil and protest at the Dail. We will not be ignored. Never again! The next protest is on Wed 28th at 7pm - details HERE.

Tweets during Sinead Redmond's emotional speech

Sinead Redmond, Pro-Choice activist and heavily pregnant talks about the 8th amendment as a '152' year old relic. #Savita

New campaign @SavitasLaws http://www.savitaslaws.com/ and Facebook #Savita #rtept #legislatenow

Redmond talks about website 'Savita's Laws' established this week. #Savita

Pregnant speaker says civil and political opinion should have no role in her care #savita #dail

That last line came from a speaker who is 8 months pregnant. "My life and health are worth protecting." #Savita #LegislateForX

Very moving speech by Sinead Redmond & what I feel as we in the fucking dark ages #savita

Great emotional address from @sineadredmond calling for immediate legislation & removal of 1861 act #Savita #SavitasLaws #NeverAgain

"This is not a time to be calm. This is a time to be angry. A woman died a preventable death in an Irish hospital in 2012" #Savita

"I cannot sleep with rage, with fear"- 8 month pregnant Sinead Redmond #Savita

Sinead Redmond, of Unlike Youth Defence, says "we need movement and we need it now. Never again." #savita

Sinead Redmond cries "SHAME ON THEM!" on the steps outside Leinster House. Crowd erupts with shouts of 'shame' #Savita

"Civil and criminal law has no place in my pregnancy, in my medical treatment"- Sinead Redmond's voice breaks with emotion #Savita


Video of Clare Daly at the protest tonight


Photos from the march tonight


 
 
THE husband of Savita Halappanavar has repeated his insistence that he will not meet the chairman of an inquiry into his wife’s death following a miscarriage.

Praveen Halappanavar said in an interview to be broadcast tonight on RTE's Prime Time that he would not co-operate with an HSE-run inquiry.

"We are just not confident in the whole family about the HSE leading this investigation," he said.

"These people are salaried by the HSE. They pay them. We think that there would be some kind of bias during the investigation.

"We are requesting a public inquiry basically funded by the Irish Government."

 
 
Savita Halappanavar died from infection after being refused an abortion in an Irish hospital even though she was miscarrying. Her death has reignited the abortion debate in the Catholic country where abortion is allowed only to save the life of the mother. Should Ireland’s abortion laws be changed or are current laws sufficient? The world is watching this case with #Savita. Join the conversation at 19:30GMT. 

In this episode of The Stream, we speak to

Niall O’Dowd
Founder, IrishCentral.com 

Dr Seán Ó Domhnaill @lifeinstitute
Director, The Life Institute 

Sarah McCarthy @galwayprochoice
Spokesperson, Galway Pro-Choice 

Michael Nugent @micknugent
Chairperson, Atheist Ireland 

Colette Browne @colettebrowne
Irish Examiner Columnist 

Rory Fitzgerald @roryfitzgerald
Journalist and Lawyer 

 
 
As was made clear by Sarah McCarthy of Galway Pro Choice on last night’s Prime Time programme on RTE, Galway Pro Choice were approached by the friends of Savita Praveen Halapannavar on 3rd November 2012. They came to us before going public with her story. Their only wish was to try to make sure that what happened to Savita would never happen to another woman again in Ireland.

After an initial phone call on 3rd November from a friend of Savita and Praveen’s, Savita’s friends sent Galway Pro Choice an email containing more details of the case. A meeting between Galway Pro Choice and approximately ten of Savita’s friends then took place, during which they explained the facts of the case as they saw them. They believed that a termination may have saved Savita's life. They requested the assistance of Galway Pro Choice in deciding how to proceed.

Galway Pro Choice presented Savita’s friends with a number of options, including the option of not releasing the story at all. The option of releasing the story anonymously, without a name or place being mentioned, was also discussed. However, Savita’s friends and her husband Praveen felt that going fully public with the tragic story of Savita’s death was what they wanted to do in order to bring home to the public how Ireland's abortion laws can place pregnant women in danger. A phone call between Galway Pro Choice and Savita's husband Praveen, in India, also occurred, in which Praveen reiterated his desire to go public with the story.

Galway Pro Choice then put Praveen and his friends in touch with the Irish Times. We explicitly made clear to Praveen and his friends that if they were uncomfortable in any way, at any stage, with any of our activities they should just say so and we would immediately do what they wished. We have informed them in advance of all of our planned activities so far, and they have been supportive of all of them. Savita's friends were present at the candlelit vigil we held on Saturday in Galway, and expressed their amazement that anyone could say that we were 'taking advantage of' or 'hijacking' the tragedy of Savita's death.

Now that these facts have been made clear, any and all implications by anti-choice campaigners or politicians to the effect that Pro-Choice groups are taking advantage of this tragedy should stop. If they do not, they must be interpreted as deliberately misleading statements. As well as being false, they are offensive and potentially upsetting to Savita's family and friends.

Galway Pro Choice would also like to make the following points:

- We must legislate on the X Case immediately; Government statements that it will take months to get legal clarity are unacceptable.

- Minister for Health James Reilly must instigate a fully independent public inquiry now.

- The Expert Group Report should be released to the public immediately.

- The only way to safeguard the health of pregnant women in Ireland is to guarantee access to free, safe, and legal abortion for all women.

We will be holding a public meeting this Thursday, 22nd November, at 7:30pm in the Harbour Hotel in Galway on the urgent need to legislate for the X Case. Speakers include Clare Daly ULA TD; Mary Smith, a retired midwife and pro-choice activist, and Ailbhe Smyth, former Head of Women's Studies at University College Dublin, and women’s rights activist. Sarah McCarthy of Galway Pro-Choice will chair the meeting.

On Saturday, December 1st we will be hosting a national demonstration in Galway on the need to immediately legislate for the X Case. The demonstration will assemble at the Spanish Arch at 2pm.

For more information email us at prochoicegalway@gmail.com or call 0860621503 or 0877060715.