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
Here are five key statements repeatedly made by anti-abortion campaigners. Every one of them is factually wrong:
1. Ireland is the safest place in the world for a mother to have a baby.
This claim is repeated endlessly – for the very good reason that, if true, it would be powerfully persuasive. There are, however, two enormous problems with it. Firstly, the figures on which it is based are extremely dubious. They come from a 2005 report, Maternal Mortality in 2005 estimates developed by WHO, Unicef, UNFPA and the World Bank. It does indeed show Ireland with the lowest rate of maternal death in the world at just one per 100,000 live births. This is a spectacularly good result – the average in the developed world is nine per 100,000.
The figure in Ireland’s case represents the number of deaths recorded on death certificates as having occurred during or immediately after a pregnancy. No independent expert believes these figures to be accurate. The whole basis on which they are collected is currently being changed – the new, more accurate results should be available next year.
Read full article from Fintan O'Toole here
"International human rights groups" have contacted the husband of the late Savita Halappanavar and have pledged to help him in his European court battle.
Praveen Halappanavar’s solicitor, Gerard O’Donnell, revealed the situation to the Irish Examiner after the deadline the widower gave for an independent State inquiry to be set up passed yesterday without progress.
Mr O’Donnell said that three days after he wrote to Health Minister James Reilly on the matter, the only response had been a note on Wednesday evening confirming the correspondence had been received.
Mr O’Donnell said he and his client are now committing to taking a European Court of Human Rights case against the State — with the move receiving "international" support.
"Given the huge amount of international attention this has received we do have offers of help from people in human rights groups [in relation to the case].
"There are a wealth of people, from Britain and elsewhere, who said they want to offer their services to Praveen. Some of these organisations are known internationally, although I don’t wish to name them yet," the solicitor said.
Full article by Fiachra Ó Cionnaith 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
The expert group report on abortion arose from a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights in 2005 by three women, alleging that restrictions on abortion in Ireland were in breach of their human rights.
One of the women was in acute distress. She lived in poverty and had four children already, all of whom were in care. She was attempting to reunite her family when she became pregnant accidentally. She felt she could not possibly cope with a fifth child, nor with the pregnancy. She could not get an abortion in Ireland, where, irrespective of her circumstances, she risked penal servitude for life. She went to Britain, where she had an abortion.
Another of the three women had been in treatment for cancer for three years and she too became pregnant unintentionally. Medical tests were contraindicated during the early stage of her pregnancy. She was unable to get clear medical advice and feared that her pregnancy would lead to a recurrence of her cancer. She, too, felt obliged to go to Britain for an abortion. The third case was less clear-cut.
The third and first cases were dismissed on technical grounds but on the case concerning the woman with cancer, it was found that the absence of clear guidelines in Ireland for when abortion was permissible was a breach of human rights. It was this ruling which led to the expert group report published yesterday.
Full article by Vincent Browne 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
Sinead Redmond is 8 months pregnant. Anyone who expected this condition had caused her to mellow her views on women's fertility would have those prejudices brushed aside once she took the mic.
Speaking for all women who find themselves in her circumstances she shelved her inevitable fear of birthing to express sympathy to Savita's. Sinead reserved her venom for the spineless politicians who refused to facilitate an environment which could have saved Savita's and other women's lives. She is down on a medical profession that chose not to provide adequate support to a mother in severe risk of death, and is ultimately angry and critical at her fellow citizens who seek to justify indignity Savita endured by appealing to some form of divine reason.
Sinead's child will be from to become the prevailing standard.
Mr Halappanavar objected to the inclusion on the panel of three employees of the hospital and within 24 hours they had been dropped amid concerns of a conflict of interest.
The replacements are: Professor James Walker, Professor and honorary consultant of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in St James Hospital in Leeds, Dr Brian Marsh, consultant in Intensive Care Medicine, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and immediate past-Dean, Joint Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine of Ireland and Professor Mary Horgan, Consultant Physician in Cork University Hospital and Professor in the School of Medicine, University College Cork.
Ireland's President Michael D Higgins says he hopes women will be safer in the wake of the death of an Indian dentist after a miscarriage.
He expressed his wish that Irish women will get the medical services they are entitled to internationally after Savita Halappanavar, 31, died 17 weeks into her pregnancy.
Her husband Praveen is battling the Irish Government and health chiefs to hold a sworn, public inquiry into her death, which he claims happened after she was denied an abortion on medical grounds.
Mr Higgins, on a three day trip to Liverpool and Manchester, rejected suggestions that Ireland's reputation around the world has been damaged by the controversy.
"I think that what is very important and what is very moving to me as president is to see the enormous response among the Irish public to the sad death of the wonderful Savita and how tragic it all is," Mr Higgins said.
"My wish, frankly, is that there be some form of investigation which meets the needs of the concerned public and meets the needs of the family and meets the need of the state."
At least 10,000 people marched through Dublin on Saturday demanding reform of abortion laws. Further protests and candlelit vigils have taken place in New York, India and elsewhere, including another demonstration at Ireland's Dail parliament tonight.
Mr Higgins urged respect for the Irish constitution, which gives equal right to life to the mother and unborn child, and for a 2010 European court ruling which found a woman living in Ireland had her human rights violated by being forced to travel overseas for a termination for fear she would suffer a cancer relapse during pregnancy.
"The Irish constitution and later European court cases have to be respected and we have to move on," he said.
Ms Halappanavar died in Galway University Hospital on October 28 after losing her baby. She contracted septicaemia.
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