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
TV3 PLANS TO broadcast a debate on the issue of abortion tomorrow night.
Among the speakers will be writers for the Irish Times and Irish Independent, as well as a patron of the Iona Institute and a Labour Senator.
Arguing against legislating for the X Case will be:
Arguing in favour of legislating for the X Case will be:
- Breda O’Brien, Patron of the Iona Institute and columnist with the Irish Times
- William Binchy, Regius Professor of Laws at Trinity College & Legal Advisor to the pro-life campaign
The debate will be pre-recorded at 8pm and broadcast at 10pm on TV3.
- Dearbhail McDonald, Legal Affairs Editor at the Irish Independent
- Ivana Bacik, Labour Senator and Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Trinity College
The debate comes the same day that the Expert Group report on the A, B and C case is presented to Cabinet. Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, will present the report tomorrow. According to what has been seen in purportedly leaked copies, the report puts forward a number of recommendations, including primary legislation; the issuing of guidelines without primary legislation; legislation alone; or legislation plus regulations.
The government will put an Action Plan to the Council of Europe on the issue on 30 November.
We'll probably be live tweeting it over at @SavitasLaws, see you there?
How anybody thought an investigation panel into the death of a person in a hospital controlled by the Health Service Executive could include medics from that hospital and a representative of the HSE itself would be beyond belief were it not devised by the hapless James Reilly.
So too is the absence of any clear legal basis for investigation, made worse by the absence of legal expertise on the panel.
A commission of investigation such as that constituted under Judge Yvonne Murphy to inquire into child abuse in the Dublin archdiocese should have been instituted. Such an inquiry, limited to the circumstances surrounding the death of Savita Halappanavar, would be brief, inexpensive, conclusive and credible.
If, following yesterday’s removal of the University Hospital Galway consultants from the panel, another cobbled-together panel proceeds, there are likely to be legal challenges, complaints about procedures, refusals to co-operate and, finally, a report (if the process does not collapse) that will have limited, if any, authority.
Whatever the Government does on legislation or otherwise on the X case judgment is also likely to be a fiasco, because the complexity of the issues to be addressed are such, largely because of difficulties with the Supreme Court’s judgment in the X case (if a possible suicide is a justification for abortion, then how is a possible death from other causes not a justification?).
And that complexity arises, in the first instance, from the terms of the 1983 abortion amendment. The case for amending this amendment is now compelling and this will require the Irish people to reconsider their mindset on abortion.
But how in any individual case could anyone tell that the reasons for a pregnant woman opting for an abortion were trivial? How could anyone’s moral judgment be substituted for hers? Isn’t it obvious that only the woman herself is the person to make that moral judgment? Isn’t it obvious too that the criminalisation of a woman’s decision to end a pregnancy is but yet another instance of a patriarchal society seeking to control women?
A new amendment is required permitting the termination of pregnancy if a woman so demands and if medical – including psychiatric – reasons support her demand. The unborn do not have an unqualified right to life: that qualification centres crucially on the pregnant woman and only she should decide.