Tag Archives: government

A Ticking Ticking Timebomb… the 8th amendment.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/1228/breaking1.html

The wording of the 1983 “pro-life” amendment to the Constitution was hastily approved despite one attorney general labelling it a legal “time bomb” and another expressing doubts about its merits, newly released State papers show.

On November 2nd, 1982, two days before a vote of no confidence in the Dáil, which led to a general election the following month, the then Fianna Fáil government announced the wording of the anti-abortion amendment, which went on to be approved by the electorate.

This was despite the government being warned by attorney general Patrick Connolly SC that a “pro-life” amendment “might well have the effect of threatening the right of the mother” to have a life-saving operation.

Foreseeing some of the problems thrown up by the 1992 X case, Mr Connolly noted that, “whatever my personal views be”, a rape victim could not be exempted from any constitutional prohibition.

Nor, “in the current climate of what it is sought to achieve”, could the amendment exempt abortion where the mental health of a woman was at serious risk.

The Fianna Fáil government also had advice from the previous attorney general, Peter Sutherland, who argued that the amendment would create serious legal ambiguities.

So everywoman who may need an abortion is a ticking timebomb which may bring down the government.

Time to, Repeal the 8th.

Irish abortion providers…

I was reading this, this morning and those 3 words jumped out at me. I am pretty certain I have never seen those 3 words in that configuration before. Here is where they came from and the context.

http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/20/on-abortion-we-need-spirit-of-67

When, this week, you read a headline saying, Ireland to legalise abortion; or see a statement from the Catholic church saying “Irish abortion reform is a ‘licence to kill innocent babies'”, you should treat it with great scepticism. For a start, nobody has suggested changing the law, nobody’s legalising anything, and innocent babies have more to fear, as ever, from the Catholic church, than from any Irish abortion providers.

Nobody has suggested, even out of respect for the recently killed Savita Halappanavar, the slightest modification in the law, so that an abortion might be permitted in a case where the mother would probably die without it, and the foetus would probably die regardless. There are no new ideas, and no concessions to anybody – all that’s been mooted is the codification of a supreme court ruling, so that the abortion provision they do have is no longer just precedent, it’s actually enshrined in law.

The rest of the the piece written by https://twitter.com/zoesqwilliams explains the legal and historical back drop to the legal situation on abortion. If you like the writers of Jezebel need to brush up on the facts, please do take the time to read the rest of it.

So this morning with my coffee I find myself wondering what Irish abortion providers would look like, ok so say with a wave of a magic wand we have legislation, even the most conservative legislation along the lines with which the majority of people agree. That is abortion to protect the life and health of women including cases of rape/incest and terminations for fatal fetal complication. What happens next?

Well medical policies and procedures would have to be introduced along with guidelines and best practices and insurance policies amended as well, which is a massive amount of paper work.

Currently even with all the Drs we train in this country none of them are trained to carry the procedures needed.
This point gets made time and time again by Drs for choice and Medical Students for Choice. So even when such legislation is passed there will be a long waiting time before a woman would get the timely treatment she needed and most likely will end up with the HSE paying for her to travel and have the procedure in the UK. Like they had to do in the case of Miss D.

So would we see private clinics being set up as Irish abortion providers?

This may cause a whole new get of issues. Part of the Ruling by the EU court of Human Rights in the ABC cases was that MS C right to privacy was breached and with Ireland being such a small place I would worry that such places would be heavily picketed as the anti choice lobbists have been known to picket family planning clinics here and take pictures of people going into them. It will still be that those who can afford to go privately will have more choice and privacy and may still choose to leave the country.

Irish abortion providers, I would prefer if they were just part of the general OB/GYM services in this country, but even these services suffer from the policies and practices which have them as an add on service and not part of holistic health care for women.

Even when we have less restriction on abortion in this country there will be still so much work to be done on ensuring women and transmen have the health care they need.

‘Pro-life’ change had little impact

'Pro-life' change had little impact.

“‘Pro-life’ change had little impact
In this section »

PAUL CULLEN Health Correspondent

UK route: At least 143,000 women have travelled from Ireland to have abortions in the UK since the Constitution was amended in 1983 to recognise the right to life of the unborn.

The British authorities maintain a comprehensive set of figures on abortion, which includes a classification by country of residence. In a typical year, women who give their address as the Republic of Ireland account for two-thirds of non-resident women having an abortion.

The figures show that the 1983 “pro-life” amendment had no visible impact on the rising trend of Irish women travelling to Britain for an abortion.

Their numbers had begun increasing significantly in the 1970s and this trend continued through almost three succeeding decades.

The figure for Irish abortions in England and Wales peaked in 2001 at 6,625 before beginning a slow but steady decline right up to 2011, when 4,149 abortions were carried out on Irish-resident women.

The Irish Times has compiled the figures from data provided by the British department of health and office of statistics, and from archived articles of this newspaper.

Figures could not be obtained for four years in the 1980s and 1990s, but an average was used to calculate the overall estimate.

The British figures are subject to a number of caveats. They do not include Irish women who travelled for an abortion but gave a UK address. They could include women of other nationalities who gave an Irish address. They do not include abortions carried out on Irish women in Scotland, which does not compile statistics for non-residents.

In addition, more Irish women have begun travelling to other European countries for an abortion, though their number is likely to be small compared to the UK figures.

Of the abortions carried out on Irish-resident women last year, 37 involved girls aged under 16, and 111 related to 16-17-year-olds. Some 1,404 related to women in their 20s and 1,801 to women in their 30s. Some 257 were performed on women in their 40s.

Studies show that Irish women who travel to the UK tend to have abortions later in their pregnancies than British women availing of local services.

In 1970, just 261 Irish women were reported to have travelled to Britain for an abortion, but the following year this more than doubled to 577. By 1973, the number had reached 1,200 and, by the end of the decade, 3,000.

We’ve been exporting abortion for far too long.

Reaction from pro-choice and anti-abortion groups

Reaction from pro-choice and anti-abortion groups.

The religious advocacy group the Iona Institute said the Government’s statement on its intention to introduce legislation for abortion next year was “not entirely clear” in relation to the issue of suicide, but that it would be “wrong and unnecessary” to allow for it in cases where there is deemed to be suicidal intent.

A combination of legislation and regulations will be introduced to comply with the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the A, B and C case, a statement from the Department of Health said today. The Government is expected to allow the fear of suicide as a ground for abortion but may not provide for rape or sexual abuse, neither of which formed part of the X case ruling.

Iona Institute spokeswoman Maria Steen said including the threat of suicide as grounds for abortion in the legislation “would not save a single life”.

“Irish law already allows the ending of a pregnancy when there is no other choice and there is a clear threat to the life of the mother,” she said.

“A decision to include a threat of suicide as a ground for abortion would also be wrong in principle because it would authorise for the first time ever the deliberate and direct destruction of unborn human life in Ireland.”

Pro-choice groups welcomed today’s announcement, but said the government must commit to a timeframe for the introduction of legislation.

In a joint statement, Irish Choice Network, Choice Ireland, Action on X, Galway Pro-Choice, Cork Women’s Right to Choose and Doctors for Choice said the proposed legislation “should only be considered a first step towards liberalising abortion laws in Ireland”.

Action on X spokeswoman Sinéad Kennedy called on the Government to deal with the issue immediately after the Dáil returns from the Christmas break.

She said it was vital that there be no curtailment of a woman’s right to access abortion on the ground that she is suicidal in the new legislation.

“We are aware that there are moves from some TDs to have this rolled back, however this is a constitutional right confirmed by the Supreme Court decision in the X Case and the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the ABC case,” she said.

The pro-choice groups have also called for a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment to the Constitution, which gives the unborn an equal right to life as the mother.

Choice Ireland spokeswoman Stephanie Lord said it was “inhumane” that the amendment has not been repealed before now.

“There are 4,500 women that travel overseas for abortion services every year, and many more that order pills online to induce abortions at home,” she said.

“Women have a right to make the best choice for them under their circumstances, and their right to health care must also be upheld. It is now time to introduce free, safe, and legal abortion on demand in Ireland.”

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) said the decision to put a legislative and regulatory regime in place would provide clear and effective procedures which would enable women to access lawful abortion in Ireland.

ICCL director Mark Kelly said the decision sends a clear message that the Government is committed to honouring its legal obligations to implement the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of A, B and C.

“There is no good reason why the Government should limit itself to the minimum action required to implement this one judgment,” he said.

“It should seize the opportunity to thoroughly overhaul Ireland’s antediluvian laws on abortion, including by rendering lawful the termination of pregnancies involving fatal foetal abnormalities.”

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik said the “tragic death” of Savita Halappanavar emphasised the need for legislation on abortion.

“We must act swiftly to ensure that pregnant women have access to necessary life-saving medical treatment,” she said. “We have waited 20 years for this law – it is long overdue.”

Labour Women chairwoman Sinead Ahern said Labour had gone through with its promise to be the first government to act on the abortion issue and legislate for the X case.

“Six governments in this State have failed to act on the Supreme Court judgement in 1992. Labour in government has ensured that this will not be the seventh,” she said.

Government unveils plans to address abortion ruling

Government unveils plans to address abortion ruling.

The Government announced today that a combination of legislation and regulations will be introduced to comply with the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the A, B and C case.

Minister for Health James Reilly presented a memorandum to this morning’s Cabinet meeting. The decision was taken to follow this route – the fourth option from the expert group on abortion – rather than proposing guidelines, an option favoured by anti-abortion campaign groups.

A statement released by the Department of Health said: “Having considered the report of the of the Expert Group on the judgment in A, B and C v Ireland the Government has decided that the implementation of this judgement by way of legislation with regulations offers the most appropriate method for dealing with the issue.”

In a statement, the Government said the drafting of legislation, supported by regulations, will be within the parameters of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the X case. “It was also agreed to make appropriate amendments to the criminal law in this area,” it said.

The Heads of a Bill will be published in the new year following deliberations by the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children in early January, before the Dáil resumes.This will be followed by a debate in the Oireachtas before the Bill and regulations are finalised.

“The Government has also noted and agreed to the request from the Health Minister Dr James Reilly for further decisions at a later stage related to policy matters that will inform the drafting of the legislation,” the statement said.

Dr Reilly said he was very conscious of the sensitivities around the issue of abortion.

“I know that most people have personal views on this matter. However, the Government is committed to ensuring that the safety of pregnant women in Ireland is maintained and strengthened. We must fulfill our duty of care towards them,” he said.

“For that purpose, we will clarify in legislation and regulation what is available by way of treatment to a woman when a pregnancy gives rise to a threat to a woman’s life. We will also clarify what is legal for the professionals who must provide that care while at all times taking full account of the equal right to life of the unborn child.”

Dr Reilly said the Government would not “preempt the debate that must follow by speculating on details to be decided later in the process”.

The Government is expected to allow the fear of suicide as a ground for abortion but may not provide for rape or sexual abuse, neither of which formed part of the X case ruling. On foot of the decision, the Government is also expected to repeal provisions in the Offences against the State Act 1861, which criminalises abortion.

Dear Leo, your never getting a preference from me.

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/kfkfidqlgbau/rss2/

Varadkar opposed to abortion for rape victims

By Mary Regan, Political Reporter

Monday, May 03, 2010

ALLOWING rape victims to terminate their pregnancies could lead to “abortion on demand” according to controversial Fine Gael TD, Leo Varadkar.

The front-bench spokes-person on enterprise also said he “went easier” on Tánaiste Mary Coughlan in the Dáil “because she is a woman” in an effort to dismiss claims that he had been sexist towards her.

The conservative TD and medical doctor said he would “not be in favour of abortion” and, although he is not religious, he would “accept a lot of Catholic social thinking”.

In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled in the X case that a woman had a right to an abortion if there was “a real and substantial risk” to her life. Mr Varadkar said: “The only thing that would be a grey area is if there’s a genuine threat or risk to the life of the mother.”

But he said he wouldn’t be in favour of legalising abortions for victims of rape: “I wouldn’t be in favour of it in that case, and, you know, first of all, it isn’t the child’s fault that they’re the child of rape.”

“How would that work practically? Would someone have to prove that they’ve been raped? I think where that’s been brought in in countries it has more or less led to abortion on demand,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Independent magazine. “You can say the same thing about disabled children. You know, some people would make that argument in favour of abortion. It’s not their fault they’re disabled. I wouldn’t be in favour of it in those circumstances either.”

It’s estimated that around 5,000 women travel from Ireland to Britain for abortions every year, but Mr Varadkar said there was no double standards on the issue. “People travel overseas to do things overseas that aren’t legal in Ireland all the time. You know, are we going to stop people going to Las Vegas? Are we going to stop people going to Amsterdam? There are things that are illegal in Ireland and we don’t prevent people from travelling overseas to avail of them.”

The 31-year-old said it was “very unfair” that he was accused of sexism in the Dáil because of the way he attacked Ms Coughlan when she was Minister for Enterprise.

If anything I went easier on her because she was a woman,” he said. “She’s accused everyone of sexism. Nobody that I know would ever say that I’m sexist. Most people would accept it was the last line of defence for Mary Coughlan.”

d

“Referendum inevitable…” the 8th needs to be repealed.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/1130/1224327302965.html

Doctors for Choice: A founder member of the Doctors for Choice group has said she believes another referendum is inevitable to allow even a limited form of abortion in Ireland.

Dr Mary Favier told a public meeting in Cobh, Co Cork, that the expert group’s report on abortion was to be welcomed.

However, Dr Favier pointed out that the expert group looked at only a very narrow section of the current law and she believed a referendum to change the Constitution was necessary.

“I think inevitably we are going to have to look at repealing the 1983 amendment, which was always a very faulty insertion into the Irish Constitution,” said Dr Favier.

“Until it is repealed, we will not be able to legislate in any circumstances to protect women who have been raped or who are pregnant as the result of incest,” she told Cork’s 96FM.

It is becoming more and more clear that to safe guard the health, life and equality of women in Ireland we need to remove the 8th amendment.

8th banner

“We should not pretend that limited measures, ensure true equality for all members of this republic.” Alan Shatter’s speech in the Dáil on Claire Daly’s most recent bill to legislate for X.

Chants of “Repeal the 8th” rang out outside the Dáil last Wednesday as people gathered in the cold to listen to the debate, it rang out every time a politician said that hands were tied due to the constitution.

For the last few years I have steadfastly said we did not need another referendum on abortion in this country, that we as a nation twice have voted no to not legislating for the X case.

I was wrong, any legislation is subservient to the constitution and can not conflict with our Constitution, so yes we do need a referendum. One to repeal the 8th amendment.

“Why I Voted No” and honest answer from a TD.

http://www.broadsheet.ie/2012/11/29/why-i-voted-no/

Sean Kenny, Labour TD for Dublin North East.

Lisa Powell writes;

I re-e-mailed my TDs re: legislation this morning, this was one response:

Hello Lisa,

You might be aware that Labour TDs including myself, did not support Clare Daly’s billon the X case last night. As your TD, I want to explain why I voted No.

In order to succeed in getting legislation for the X case, I, as a legislator, have to work with the reality of the political games that are being played in order to get X case legislation passed into law.

Fine Gael, Labour’s coalition partners would not support Clare Daly’s bill. I believe that Labour Ministers suggested to them that they should support it. But they did not wish to do so – they want to wait to debate the Expert Group Report which has been published recently. This is because Fine Gael and Labour agreed on the Expert Group process a year ago.

Fine Gael now want to see that through. It is clear on reading the Expert Group
report that the Expert Group believes legislation for the X case and regulations for doctors, is the way forward on this matter.

Fine Gael are a very conservative political party. They do not really want legislation. Labour will have to force them to support legislation.

It is very, very difficult getting them to move on this – but it is working previously, for example, Enda Kenny has said he will not be rushed. But earlier this week he said he would move swiftly.

The really conservative Fine Gael TDs and Ministers are now speaking out in the media about their opposition. They are doing that because they know that Labour is influencing Fine Gael and that they will have to support legislation. They are trying to re-assure their anti-choice voters.

All of that going on in Fine Gael is down to Labour Party TDs and Ministers pushing Fine Gael on this.

As part of that, if Labour, their coalition partner, were to antagonise Fine Gael by supporting Clare Daly’s Bill and breaking with the Expert Group route, Fine Gael will not trust Labour and then there never will be any legislation because Fine Gael will not support it.

I also would like you to consider the way in which Dáil seats are divided up in this Dáil. Each seat in the Dáil is worth one vote.

Labour have 37 seats in the Dáil.
Fine Gael have 74 seats in the Dáil.

Fianna Fáil have 19 seats.
Sinn Féin have 14 seats.
Independents have 20 seats.
ULA have 4 seats.
The Ceann Comhairle has one vote – this vote is cast only in the event
of a tie.
If Fine Gael seats (ie, votes) are left out of the equation, there are not enough TDs who will support legislating for the X case. A number of the FF and Independent TDs are very pro-life – some will vote against legislating and others will simply not show up to vote at all.

Just 27 votes supported Clare Daly’s Bill last night. Even if all the Labour TDs had supported it, it still would have failed to pass.

In other words, for X case legislation to be passed without question in the Dáil, Fine Gael AND Labour are needed to support X case legislation when it comes down to a vote on in the Dáil because they have the most seats, and therefore, the most votes.

Fine Gael control Dáil Éirean and Labour supporting legislation alone will not get that legislation voted through.

Fine Gael are required.Over the next couple of weeks, there will be a debate on the Expert Group report. After that, the Government will decide what steps to take. I
am confident that there will be legislation on the X case and that it will happen within the next two or three months.

Yours sincerely,

Sean Kenny TD

Playing Party Politics with women’s lives.

28th November is the full moon and there will be a lunar eclipse, it will also be one month from when Savita Halappanavar died in hospital in Galway.

That same day a bill to legislate for the X Case is tabled to be debated and discussed. Claire Daly as part of the ULA is bringing the bill forward and it will do what is needed.

Unfortunately despite it being a good bill and legally sound it is most likely it will be voted down by the government parties.

Who will not want to legislate someone else’s bill, who want to drawn out the process and will stall and then grudgingly create their own bill months later.

The Labour party does want to legislate as soon as possible but they are tied in coalition with the very conservative Fine Gael and even if there was a free vote in the Dáil the bill can not pass with out Fine Gael votes to support it.

So they are playing party politics with women’s lives.

Review of expert group report from Rte Primetime.

Reporter Oonagh Murphy reported on the excerpts of the report from the Expert group set up to review the X Case ruling.

http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/search/?q=primetime

It seems that the expert group reports back that the options are to put in place guidelines, legislation or regulations.

Guidelines, which can be put in place quickly can be easily amended but they would have no legal force behind them and would not meet the recommendations of the EU court of human rights.

Legislation would meet the recommendations of the EU courts of human rights, but it will mean time spent drawing them up, time spent debating for it to be passed. Legislation will take more time and has a lack of flexibility in the future as medical advances are made.

Regulations in conjunction with legislation may offer flexibility but will have to be backed with legislation which will allow the regulations to be changed as needed.

It was also reported that the X Case only deals with the risk to the life of the woman rather then the risk to health and as a result cases like those of Savita may not be covered by anything which the government put in place.

Tuesday the 27th of November has been given for the publication of the report.