A United Nations watchdog has raised concerns about the welfare of women in Ireland since the death of a woman after she miscarried.
Anand Grover said abortion should be legal if a pregnancy is adversely impacting on a woman’s health, and not just her life.
Arguing that the life of a mother is much more important than the right of the unborn, the UN special rapporteur on the right to health also accused countries that criminalise abortion of discriminating against woman, particularly the marginalised, poor and minorities.
“You cannot limit availability and accessibility of health services, goods and facilities only on the basis of life exception,” said Mr Grover speaking on the grounds for terminations.
“If it impacts adversely on the woman’s health or the right to health, that should be a ground.”
The Cabinet is due to decide tomorrow on whether it will introduce legislation, or a combination of legislation and regulation, to reform the country’s limited ban on abortion in the new year.
Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar died at Galway University Hospital on October 28th, 17 weeks into her pregnancy. She suffered septicaemia following her miscarriage.
The dead woman’s husband Praveen claims doctors refused to carry out an abortion because a foetal heartbeat was present. He says they were told Ireland “is a Catholic country”.
A statutory inquiry and an HSE clinical inquiry in to the death of the 31-year-old are continuing.
Mr Grover, a lawyer, was in Dublin to give a keynote address at a conference and not in his official role.
But he said he has already had discussions with Government officials in Ireland over the abortion controversy.
“I am concerned about women’s situation all over the world, particularly in Ireland, because of the Indian woman who died,” he said.
“It had an impact in India and actually made me look in this issue slightly more in detail, so I’m concerned about it.”
Mr Grover maintained if treated in India, Ms Halappanavar would never have died, as the law allows a woman to access reproductive and health services, including abortion, on the basis of adverse impact on her health.
Mr Grover spoke out at Realising Women’s Right to Health, a conference organised by the Women’s Human Rights Alliance (WHRA) and the National Women’s Council of Ireland to mark the second anniversary of the A,B and C v Ireland judgment.
He maintained criminal laws and other legal restrictions on sexual and reproductive health interfere with human dignity and disempower women, who may be deterred from taking steps to protect their health, in order to avoid liability and out of fear of stigmatisation.
“As a result, women and girls are punished both when they abide by these laws, and are thus subjected to poor physical and mental health outcomes, and when they do not, and thus face incarceration,” he added.
Today, Anand Grover, the UN special rapporteur on the right to health, is visiting Ireland to give the keynote address at a conference of the Women’s Human Rights Alliance. As a renowned advocate for women’s right to health, he is aware that there are many barriers when it comes to the realisation of this right for women in Ireland.
He will have heard already that we have a highly inequitable two-tier health system which offers privileges to those who can afford private health. The 48 per cent without private health insurance have to wait longer to access hospital and specialist services.
Read full article by Orla O'Connor here
Praveen Halappanavar, 34, pens heart-wrenching diary of days leading to death of wife Savita, 31Savita died in hospital in Galway, Ireland, after surgeons didn't remove her miscarrying babyThey told her it wasn't possible in Catholic country
Two months ago Savita and Praveen Halappanavar were looking forward to the birth of their first baby.
Praveen, 34, an engineer at a firm that makes medical equipment, and dentist Savita, 31, lived in Galway city, Ireland, moving there from India after marrying.
When Savita was 17 weeks pregnant she was admitted to University hospital in Galway with back pain - and told she was miscarrying.
Her repeated requests for a termination were refused on the grounds that Ireland 'is a Catholic country'.
A week after arriving in hospital, she died holding Praveen's hand. Her death sparked an international storm, with calls for Ireland to immediately change its abortion laws.
Here Praveen chronicles his wife's heartbreaking story, from her first scan to her tragic death . . .
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19: We're thrilled to see the baby on the screen Savita and I have been waiting weeks for our first scan. When we finally see it, we couldn't be more happy.
When she became pregnant over the summer, we were over the moon. We are told the baby is 'absolutely fine' and given a due date of March 30.
Early on, we decided not to find out if it was a boy or a girl, we really want it to be a surprise. Secretly though, Savita is wishing for a girl.
As we drive home, she and I excitedly plan the next few months. She shares the news with her parents who are visiting us from India for a few weeks. They are delighted: this baby is going to be their first grandchild.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20: We spend a lovely day celebrating with friends. That evening Savita's mum cooks us an Indian meal and we chat happily.
After watching television, we go to bed at 10pm. Savita is tired after a long but very pleasant day.
Read full article by
Three years ago, Nepal’s Supreme Court(SC) catapulted the nation to the forefront of the global women’s rights movement by unequivocally ruling that women have a constitutionally protected right to safe and affordable abortion services. The story behind that groundbreaking decision begins with Lakshmi Devi Dhikta. Lakshmi is an extremely poor woman from Dadeldhura who already had five children when she became pregnant for the sixth time. She and her husband knew having another child would be too hard on their family financially and on Lakshmi’s health — so they went to a government hospital to request an abortion.
At the hospital, they were told to pay 1,130 rupees for the procedure, which they did not have. As a result, Lakshmi had no choice but to continue her unintended pregnancy
Read full article by MELISSA UPRETI 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
The head of a European Parliament committee on women’s rights has said Ireland must clarify its abortion laws.
Abortion was a human rights issue, said Mikael Gustafsson, chairman of the committee, which raised its concerns during a meeting with Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch in Dublin this week.
“Ireland really has to have a law which says what is happening on this,” said Mr Gustafsson, a Swedish MEP.
“For me personally abortion is all about women’s choice ... it’s really a matter of human rights,” he said.
Abortion took up half of a three-hour meeting with Ms Lynch on Thursday, Mr Gustafsson said.
Childcare and the lack of women’s representation in the Dáil were other areas of concern to the committee, which was visiting Ireland ahead of the start to its EU presidency in January.
Mr Gustafsson said the 15 per cent representation of women in the Dáil was “really low” and without a proper childcare system women could not become “economically independent and can’t take part in decision-making”.
“Not having paid leave for fathers in Ireland is a political signal ... that this is something that is only a woman’s concern,” he told a meeting with the National Women’s Council, the Rape Crisis Centre, the Migrant Council of Ireland and Safe Ireland, which represents domestic abuse groups.
Full article by Judith Crosbie here
THE long-awaited report of the expert group on the judgment in A, B and C v Ireland was published yesterday, and much of what was contained therein will not have come as a shock to those who have been following the debate on the issue.
The creation of an expert group in the first place was a mechanism designed by the then government to put off the inevitable act of legislating for the X case judgment which was handed down by the Supreme Court in 1992 that said pregnant women had a constitutional right to an abortion where it was established that as a matter of probability she had a real and substantial risk to her life.
Full article by Stephaine Lord here
For those of us who don't speak politics, this means the parties vote as a block and not individually, meaning that Fine Gael TDs will all have to vote for the legislation the expert group says is necessary.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out a free vote for Fine Gael TDs on the issue of abortion.
Mr Kenny told reporters that his party had very clear rules and they involved people who were elected, voting in accordance with party decisions.
He was speaking in Cardiff where he is attending a meeting of the British-Irish Council.
Earlier, Junior Minister Brian Hayes said he still felt abortion was an issue on which TDs should be allowed a free vote.
The Dáil debates a motion from the Technical Group this week on abortion.
Mr Kenny also expressed confidence in Health Minister James Reilly, who he described as having taken on an enormous brief.
Meanwhile, Minister Reilly said there is no split between Government parties on how to proceed in dealing with the expert group report on abortion.
He said the Cabinet will only consider the report tomorrow, after which it is hoped there will be a good parliamentary debate with input from all sides.
Mr Reilly said there will hopefully be consensus in the debate on the way forward.
Minister Reilly repeated what he said in the Dáil some months ago, that this is an issue that he will not leave behind him as health minister.
He said that this will not be the seventh government not to take action required to clarify the issue.
Psychiatrist issues suicide decision warning
A leading psychiatrist, specialising in the care of pregnant women, has said legislators need to give "very careful consideration" to who has suffcient qualifications and experience to decide if a pregnant woman is at risk of suicide.
Dr Anthony McCarthy, one of only three perinatal psychiatrists in the country, warned against the introduction of what he called a "tick box" system of deciding whether or not a woman is entitled to an abortion.
Dr McCarthy, a consultant at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, was speaking ahead of the publication of the report of an expert group on abortion tomorrow, which is expected to recommend that two psychiatrists and an obstetrician be involved in cases where suicide poses a risk to the life of a mother.
Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Dr McCarthy said it is important that the risk of suicide is not ignored, or stigmatised. He said while cases are rare, they are real.
He said that one of the most common causes of maternal death in the UK and Ireland is suicide.
He said it is difficult to establish how common the problem is in Ireland, because most women in those circumstances here currently travel to England for an abortion, without presenting for care to professionals here.
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