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
 
 
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has moved to defuse public controversy and tensions between the Coalition parties over abortion by promising swift action and calling for a “calm, rational and sensitive discussion”.

However, there was adverse reaction within his own party, with a number of Fine Gael backbenchers complaining that they were being “press-ganged” into moving too rapidly to deal with the matter.

Speaking this morning, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said leaving suicide out the discussion surrounding abortion was not an option.  “The Supreme Court is absolutely clear upon this issue and the people have been absolutely clear. There were attempts made by previous Governments in 1992 and 2002 to remove suicide as an issue. The people on both occasions turned that down.”

During a private members’ time in the Dáil last night, Mr Shatter said that some citizens were more equal than others.

He moved to clarify his comments today. “When men in this country require medical treatment there are no barriers to their obtaining it," he said. "In these particular areas, for example, there are barrier to women obtaining treatment and in that sense they are less equal as citizens in one particular area of our life.”


Full article 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
 
 
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has moved to defuse public controversy and tensions between the Coalition parties over abortion by promising swift action and calling for a “calm, rational and sensitive discussion”.

However, there was adverse reaction within his own party, with a number of Fine Gael backbenchers complaining that they were being “press-ganged” into moving too rapidly to deal with the matter.

The report of the expert group set up after the 2010 European Court of Human Rights judgment against Ireland on abortion was discussed at Cabinet yesterday morning and subsequently published online.

The report contained four options for the Government, but leaned heavily in favour of a flexible combination of legislation and regulations.

A Dáil debate on the report starts on Tuesday, and Mr Kenny said he would “provide as much time as people desire”.

The Taoiseach said that prior to the Dáil going into recess for Christmas “the Government will make its view known, arising from those discussions and our own views, regarding which option it decides to pursue”.

From January 8th-10th and before the Dáil resumes the Joint Committee on Health and Children will hold public hearings on whatever option is chosen.

Full article by Deaglán de Bréadún and Mary Minihan here

 
 
The Master of the National Maternity Hospital is a woman under pressure. When I arrive at the agreed time for an interview, I am told at the front desk of the antiquated building on Holles Street that there are others waiting ahead of me. The “others” sitting in the small entrance hall waiting for Dr Rhona Mahony include a significant one – the Minister for State at the Department of Health, Alex White.

When Dr Mahony arrives about 10 minutes later to greet White, an apologetic secretary says that she is not sure how long I’ll have to wait as the master also has to go down to theatre.

Being the head obstetrician at a hospital with 700 staff and where about 27 babies are born each day is an onerous responsibility. She wears the stress lightly, although with the country convulsed over the death of Savita Halappanavar and the issues arising from that, everybody working at the coalface of the maternity services must be particularly deeply affected.

Full article by Sheila Wayman here
 
 
The father of the late Savita Halappanavar has made a public appeal to the Government to hold a public inquiry into his daughter’s death.

Andanappa Yalagi, speaking to a freelance video journalist at the family home in the Srinigar neighbourhood of Belgaum, Karnataka, in southwest India, said he was not happy with progress so far in finding out why his daughter died in Galway University Hospital on October 28th.

“We would like to appeal to the Irish Government to please consider funding a public inquiry. We are not happy with the progress made so far. We all don’t understand the HSE investigation. So once again I ask the Irish Government to consider funding a public inquiry.”

The parents of Ms Halappanavar (31) also said in an interview with the Times of India that they hoped her death might lead to legislative change that could save other people’s daughters in the future.

Full article by Kitty Holland here

 
 
Every day 12 women leave Ireland to access abortion services in the UK. Who are these women and girls? You might be surprised. Women who have abortions come from all walks and all stages of life. They are women you know.

Abortion in Ireland is a new video developed by the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) as part of an initiative to facilitate an open, honest dialogue on abortion and to dispel myths that stigmatise women who seek abortion services. The video provides accurate factual information on abortion in Ireland.

The IFPA produced this resource because we want to change the way people talk and think about abortion in Ireland—we think discussions on abortion should be informed by facts. We believe that for too long abortion has been left in the shadows and the women who have had abortions have been stigmatised. This animation is intended as a contribution to changing opinions, informing discussions and breaking the stigma. 

Join us in the change and pass on this video to others to ensure the debate about abortion in Ireland is informed by facts, not misinformation.