The Elephant in The Room, No Longer that Invisible?

The issue that normally simmers away in the background of Irish politics has taken the headlines again today thanks to an interview in the Irish Times about the the death of a mans wife. The man is Praveen Halappanavar and he was talking about the death of 31 year old Savita Halappanavar, a dentist in Galway, following a miscarriage. She had attended the hospital complaining of back pain and they discovered she was miscarrying. She had then requested a Medical Termination but it was refused “because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country””.

She spent 2 and half days in agony until the foetal heartbeat stopped. She was then transferred to the High Dependency Unit and then the Intensive Care Unit before dying of septicaemia on the 28th October.

This is shocking!

This should never have happened!

I have previously called the abortion the political debate the Elephant in the Room, but following today’s news adding to the ABC v Ireland case further demonstrates the need for an Abortion Act in Ireland.

In a strange co-incidence the Minister of Health received the Report of the Expert on the ABC v Ireland yesterday evening. The Government will soon have to make a decision on this and the sooner the better.

There are many protests being planned in Cork there is one tonight (7pm outside Opera House) and on Friday (1pm on Daunt Square)

There are also protest in Dublin (tonight and Saturday), Galway (Saturday), Belfast (Thursday 15th) and London. More details being added to Una Mullally’s blog on the Irish Times.

As a Country we have had 20 years to sort this out. Government’s of all hues have failed to sort out this issue. Its time our Government legislated for this. Hopefully they will be shamed into acting after this.

Enhanced by Zemanta

ABC v Ireland (European Court of Human Rights)

Court room of the ECoHR
Image via Wikipedia

Today the European Court of Human Rights (not an EU body!) handed down its judgement on the case of ABC v Ireland on the issue of provision of Abortion in Ireland.

As kind of expected the court declared A and B inadmissible as

the existing prohibition on abortion in Ireland struck a fair balance between the right of the first and second applicants to respect of their private lives and the rights invoked on behalf of the unborn.

They also stated that

prohibition in Ireland on abortion for health or well-being reasons was based on the profound moral values of the Irish people in respect of the right to life of the unborn

So the court did take this into account.

The difference in the case of C was that the life of the mother was under threat due to the cancer she was suffering from. As the Irish Constitution allows an abortion in this case, the court ruled

that neither the medical consultation nor litigation options, relied on by the Irish Government, constituted effective and accessible procedures which allowed the third applicant to establish her right to a lawful abortion in Ireland. Moreover, there was no explanation why the existing constitutional right had not been implemented to date.

This is an issue that has been dodged by successive governments since the eight amendment was passed. This will now force the Goverment to amend the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 which has had the “chilling” effect on any sort of abortion service in Ireland.

It is interesting as well to see the groups who intervened in this case.

  • the Lithuanian Government (one of the applicants being Lithuanian);
  • the European Centre for Law and Justice in association with Kathy Sinnott (Member of the European Parliament);
  • the Family Research Council (Washington D.C.)
  • Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (London); the
  • Pro-Life Campaign;
  • Doctors for Choice (Ireland)
  • British Pregnancy Advisory Service;
  • Center for Reproductive Rights
  • International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme.

This case has been welcomed by Pro-Choice activist and condemned by Pro-Life activists, which is strange considering all the judgement is doing is telling us to enact our own constitution!

So will we finally get our abortion act?

Full Judgement and ECHR Press Release (PDF’s)

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Elephant in the Room

Aer Lingus Airbus A320 jet
Image via Wikipedia

There is a very large elephant in the room in Irish politics. It is a very important issue and it cause fierce tensions and divides, but not only in Ireland.

I blogged a few years back that Ireland needs an Abortion Act and recent events are making that point more necessary!

The recent poll in the Irish Examiner showing that “60% of young people want abortion legalised here” shows that young people do care about this issue.

Todays report by Human Right’s Watch, A State of Isolation, which calls on the Government to decriminalise “all abortion for women living in Ireland” (Full list of recommendations)

Abortion is a polarising issue in Ireland. At the moment it is unresolved. Ireland has two choices. We can amend the Offences against the Person Act, 1861 to take account of the constitutional rights. Or we have a new referendum on Abortion and try and introduce the freedom to have an Abortion.

(The right to an abortion is something I am not sure of, so I refrain from using that terminology)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Lisbon Debate gets going – A bit of a round-up

Treaty of Lisbon
Image via Wikipedia

You mightened have noticed it but the Referendum Commission was set up yesterday and Mr Justice Frank Clarke has been appointed as its Chair. According to the website

The new Commission is currently planning its information campaign for this impending referendum.

I am sure we are all looking forward to that campaign.

So today I got another email from the European Movement Ireland, this time they were point out an opinion article in todays Irish Times by Richard Greene, who claims

If you are against abortion, you should reject the treaty

Read the full article for the rest of the argument. The EMI of course point out the following:

The Lisbon Treaty will not bring abortion into this country.

  • Since 1991 we have had a protocol in EU Treaty law clarifying our position on abortion. That’s eighteen years now. And still no piece of EU legislation that has questioned or affected this Protocol. In fact, since 1973 there has not been a piece of EU law that has sought to change our position on abortion.
  • The Catholic Church has confirmed that our position on abortion is not affected by the Lisbon Treaty. During the first Lisbon Referendum, Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin said that ‘Catholics could vote for the Treaty in good conscience’.
  • We are not alone. There are in fact five countries that have clear restrictive measures on abortion – Malta, Spain, Poland, Portugal and us. In fact, Malta has even stricter rules than we have.
  • Just to make sure, we got an extra guarantee a couple of weeks ago from our European partners reassuring us that reasserts that our original 1991 protocol cannot be touched.

Moving on from the abortion issue which has raised its head early in the debate, Suzy has picked up on a Press Release by Lucinda Creighton TD (FG) who could have titled her PR a little better or of course maybe been a bit clearer to what she was on about in the PR. This is how the Yes campaign lost first time round folks!

Jim Murray over on blogactiv looks at another bad argument for the Yes side. It seems the problem on the Yes side is we can’t get the right thing across. Jim does raise the point though, that gratitude is not a good reason.

Of course the past is not irrelevant, and there are good reasons for voting for Lisbon on the basis of past experience – but gratitude is not one of them

You can’t fault that!

Also the first online poll is up and running on the Munster-Express site. The Generation Yes folk kindly notified me of this one on Twitter. Its about half-way down the front page, do give it a vote!

I will be doing this round up every so often, so if you see anything let me know on twitter or drop an email off to stephen[at]stephenspillane[dot]com and I will have a sconce.

UPDATE: Don’t forget about the Generation Yes meeting on Thursday in Cork! See the Generation Yes website for details of the other meetings

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

What Ireland Needs: An Abortion Act

Okay so the title of this post is a bit of a headline grabber but bear with me as this is not a pro-choice or pro-life rant but a discussion on the legal situation of abortion in Ireland. I recently read a book where this is brought up and hence this post. The book in question is “Moments that Changed Us” by Colum Kenny (Goodreads.com link)

Article 40.3.3 of Bunreacht Na hÉireann (Constitution of Ireland) states:

3° The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state.

This subsection shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state.

According to the case Attorney General vs X [1992] IESC 1 Chief Justice Finlay states

I, therefore, conclude that the proper test to be applied is that if it is established as a matter of probability that there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother, which can only be avoided by the termination of her pregnancy, such termination is permissible, having regard to the true interpretation of Article 40,s.3, sub-s. 3 (Quoted above) of the Constitution.

Of course this means that the Oireachtas should set out legislation how this procedure should be allowed take place in Ireland instead of forcing the mother to travel abroad for a termination which can legally under the constitution take place in Ireland. Unfortunately under the Offences against the Person Act, 1861 there is a penalty of life imprisonment for any person who carries out an abortion even if this abortion is allowed by the constitution. As you can see there is a case for the changing of the 1861 act least alone that is does need updating.

While I am not an expert in law or medicine I do not like to see ambiguities in the law, especially when it comes to life. The sooner our politicians wake up and amend the Offences against the Person Act, 1861 or try again to amend the constitution we are stuck with this ambiguity of the law.

ATTN: South Dakota Readers!!!

The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families is a coalition of concerned citizens and groups fighting the abortion ban in South Dakota. We are a political committee registered with the South Dakota Secretary of State and the IRS and formed in an effort to repeal HB 1215, the ban on abortions.

The Campaign is co-chaired by 16 prominent South Dakota leaders from all corners of the state, from both political parties, young and old, ministers, doctors, nurses, the leader of the largest Native American tribe and two students.

Click here for more inf