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
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
CATHOLIC bishops have insisted that "Catholic teaching" had no role to play in the death of pregnant Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar, inset.

It is the first public comment by Catholic bishops on the issue that has sparked a debate on abortion around the country.

Ms Halappanavar's husband said that she had been told by doctors that "this is a Catholic country" when requesting an abortion to try to save her life.

The statement from the bishops came as the members of an independent committee set up to inquire into Ms Halappanavar's death were announced.

The standing committee of the Irish Bishops' Conference – which is made up of seven bishops from around the country – discussed the case at their meeting in Maynooth.

In a statement, they said that they wanted to re-affirm their position on the right to intervene where a mother's life was at risk. "Where a seriously ill pregnant woman needs medical treatment which may put the life of her baby at risk, such treatments are ethically permissible provided every effort has been made to save the life of both the mother and her baby," they said.

And the bishops insisted that the Catholic Church had never taught that the life of a child in the womb should be preferred to that of a mother.

Full article here

'Should the constitutional amendment succeed, Ireland I will once again become a beacon in the true sense," claims Dr. Julia Vaughan, one of the leaders of the prooamendment campaign. Another says "it could tum the tide in the Western World" - the tide of permissiveness and morallaxitude. 

These are claims repeatedly made by those involved in the pro-amendment campaign, for they view their efforts not just as securing an all-time constitutional prohibition on abortion but as the start of a moral crusade against those liberalising trends in Irish society which have led to the legallisation of the sale of contraceptives, sex education, a greater public willingness to permit divorce, sexual permissiveness, the breakdown of marriage and an abandonment of formal religion. 

This is a story of how a small group of zealous catholics have mounted a rearguard action against these permissive trends around the emotive issue of abortion - an issue which they, rather than the pro-abortionists, have managed to catapult into the forefront of national debate. '

Full Article Here
A slightly strained week, which was spent trying to explain to Americans here in San Francisco how it is that healthy young women have to die in Irish hospitals.

Ever since Savita Halappanavar’s lovely face appeared on page three of Wednesday’s New York Times, it has been kind of uncomfortable to be an Irish person in certain circles here. But sure that’s pregnant women for you, always a source of embarrassment. Always making fools of us in front of the whole world.

Perhaps America is tired of Ireland’s excuses. The sad bewilderment among liberals here, when they heard the news of Savita Halappanavar’s death in a Galway hospital in October, is worse than any aggression. The thing is, Americans just can’t understand why surgical treatment for a miscarriage can be withheld from a woman on the grounds that the foetal heart is still beating, when medical staff have already agreed that the pregnancy has no chance of survival, as is claimed to have happened in this case. This is proving rather difficult to explain.

It is surprising how much Americans know about Irish abortion law, or the lack of it. “The mother’s life has priority, right?” they ask. Since Wednesday there has been no clear answer to that question. Is it, “We would like to think so”? Is it, “Well, it depends on where you are in Ireland, and also where in Ireland the pregnant woman is at the time”? Or is it “Er, we’d prefer not to think about that, if you don’t mind. Now bung us a couple of call centres, and leave us in peace”?

Full article here

'Call for legislation Groups demanding legislation on abortion following the death of Savita Halappanavar have vowed to hold repeat demonstrations in an effort to force the Government’s hand.Thousands of people have taken part in vigils and protests in many parts of Ireland to pay tribute to the Indian dentist and her husband, Praveen, and to highlight a growing public appetite for change.

The weekend’s largest demonstration took place in Dublin on Saturday with attendance estimates ranging between 6,000 and 20,000.

Events were also staged in Galway, Cork, Ennis, Clonakilty, Carlow, Limerick, Letterkenny, Kilkenny and Sligo.'

Full article here

"Amid the anger and shock, there are already voices urging cowardice, writes Gene Kerrigan

THERE was an eerie feeling on Molesworth Street, last Wednesday, at a few minutes to 6pm. People moved towards the Leinster House end of the street, in greater numbers than the usual homeward trekkers – moving purposefully, but in ones and twos. No marching, no chants, no banners. Just people taking some time out to gather at the national parliament and make a quiet, despairing statement of political anger. The patchy sound system was open to anyone who wanted to speak."

Read more.