Tag Archives: human-rights

We have had legal pagan weddings for the last two years…

We have had legal pagan weddings for the last two years but it seems that some of our TDs are unaware of this fact.

http://www.limerickleader.ie/news/local/o-dea-backs-humanist-wedding-ceremonies-draws-line-at-satanism-1-4618629#.UNwNKqAv2SI.twitter

An article in the Limerick leader this morning quotes Willie O’Dea TD as being supportive of legislation to allow for Humanist soleminisers.

An amendment to the 2004 Civil Registration Act, the bill passed in the Dail last week, comes on foot of representations from the Humanist Association of Ireland.

Figures from last year’s census show that 5.3% of the population of Limerick city described themselves as having no religion.

Speaking on the bill, Deputy O’Dea commented: “I have never attended a humanist wedding but I recently attended a humanist funeral in Limerick. I was impressed by the dignity and solemnity of the occasion. People of the humanist persuasion espouse an ethical philosophy of life and are required to act with reason and compassion. I do not doubt that many of them live their lives far better than people who claim to be members of particular religious organisations.”

But it seems that there are some groups he think should not be able to apply to have soleminisers.

Mentioning scientologists, “pagan associations and the Universal Church of Satan”, Deputy O’Dea said “most people would find it undesirable that such organisations might be authorised to solemnise marriages … in this country simply because they happen to be part of a religious group as per the broad definition set out in the principal act”

Oh dear.

I’ve already emailed the Deputy to make him aware that we already have legal pagan marriage in this country for the last two years.

http://www.freewebs.com/paganfederationireland/paganweddings.htm

Legal Pagan Marriage

With effect from 15th December 2009,
the National Coordinator of Pagan Federation Ireland,
has been registered on the Register of Solemnisers,
under the terms of Section 53(3) of the Civil Registration Act 2004.

Consequently, it is now possible to be legally married
in a Pagan ceremony in Ireland

If you wish to be legally married in a Pagan ceremony,
please contact paganfederationireland@gmail.com
to discuss the necessary requirements and availability.

In fact I know of a fair new which have even happened in his constituency,
I guess he wasn’t invited.

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.

The Snapper and Ireland’s attitudes to “unmarried mothers” and unplanned pregnancy..

Last night while radio and tv stations broadcast debates on the announcement by government to bring in legislation in relation to the X Case (which is 20 years overdue), Roddy Doyle‘s The Snapper was also broadcast.

While the film was released in 1993 the book was written in 1990. Back when condoms were for sale with prescription only, the morning after pill was not legal and the Magdalen Laundries were still up and running. Sharon Curly was lucky her parents loved her and she was not sent ‘away’ either to relatives or to a laundry to have the child and to have it put up for adoption. In 1990 a unmarried mother was becoming less and less of a scandal and The Snapper helped break down some of those taboos.

With the availability of abortion in the UK the moral standards in Ireland changed, being an un married mother was preferable to the other choice women were making. to travel. So to limit that the taboo was lessened and financial supports put in place to include these new families long with widows/widowers/deserted spouses.

Eventually we stopped called them ‘unmarried mothers’ but single parents, and then lone parents, but with the greater access to contraception and the morning after pill (which in it’s current form only became legal here in 2001) there is now a move to remove those supports. So women are damned if they have the baby or damned if we don’t.

There is still so much ignorance about contraception, we don’t have comprehensive health based sex and sexuality eduction in our schools. What is doled out is ad hock and influenced by staff and the ethos of the school and the majority of schools are patroned by education trusts which are at least christian and usually catholic.

Many people (and a fair % of them are men)  seem to think that all women can use hormonal contraception and that it is 100% effect and so women who end up pregnant must want to be or are too stupid to use contraception correctly. This lack of education is a social issue and does lead to assumptions and stigma.

We have moved on a fair bit from the early 90s but we still have far to go, at part of that has to be about the rights of children who are born from unplanned pregnancy and their rights and the father’s rights and the many presumptions made in the family courts. These days the term ‘unmarried father’ or single Dad or is at least heard.

But we will have a long way to go and comments made in the Dáil this week show it’s even harder when our TDs come out with comments stilling saying that lone parents are the reason we are in a recession and not the golden circle of Anglo Irish Bank.

http://www.irishexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/colette-browne/facts-about-lone-parents-rubbish-claims-they-abuse-welfare-system-217380.html

Facts about lone parents rubbish claims they abuse welfare system

By Colette Browne

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

SOME of you halfwits have been blaming bankers and politicians for savage cutback, but righteous truth merchant, and Fine Gael TD, Derek Keating, has finally had the courage to identify the real cause of our current woes — single mothers.

What were you fools thinking, believing that dapper fraudsters in designer suits had led us to our current sorry impasse when clearly young women pushing buggies are the real reason the country is going to hell in a handcart.

Now, there are some who would argue that single mothers in this country have historically had enough odium heaped upon them and their children by pious politicians, but Mr Keating has decided the time is right to dump another digger-load of sanctimony over their heads.

In an extraordinary rant in the Dáil on Wednesday night, before voting for the many regressive measures contained within the Social Welfare Bill, the Fine Gael TD revealed that he had done some research of late and was appalled by what he found.

Budding anthropologist Mr Keating said he has discovered a sinister subset of single mothers, those with “three and four children”, who only stop spreading their legs to stick out their hands to ask for more benefits.

“I came across a case recently and when I examined it I noted multiple such cases. I discovered young women who find themselves caring, not for one child or two, but for three and four children by multiple fathers who are uncaring and failing in their duties of care and support with the consequences picked up by the taxpayer,” he thundered.

This proliferation of promiscuous women and feckless fathers “who do not accept their responsibilities”, is creating “a new lifestyle of welfare economy” which is “morally and socially wrong”.

While Mr Keating was quick to note that there were some “deserving” cases in receipt of social welfare, he said the State simply couldn’t afford to continue to support these naïve, wastrel women and their exponentially increasing broods.

Unfortunately for Mr Keating, the only thing he seems to have failed to uncover, in all of his painstaking research, is any evidence to support his judgmental dirge.

So lone parents are still being rebuked, reviled and scapegoated, but sure shouldn’t they be grateful that they are not locked away for the good of the rest of us, to work as slave labour for nuns and to have the honour of washing the sheets from the Áras, while the babies are adopted and under Irish law still have no legal right to find out who their parents are.

We still have so much growing up as a nation and as a people to do and we need to do it with compassion.

Thank you, Youth Defence

A wonderful piece on the mis step by Youth Defense and how it sparked an uprising of activist.

Thank you, Youth Defence.

Words by Fiona Hyde, who co-edits Siren magazine, a gender equality-focused publication.

I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to Youth Defence. I owe those guys a lot. The anti-abortion lobby group, housed together with An Cóir and the Life Institute down on Capel Street, have really done a huge amount for me this year. True, they actually haven’t delivered on any of their promises to me. And sure, they haven’t done any favours for my mental health whatsoever, nor have they “saved the lives of the 100,000 babies” as they say. Hey, alright, I suppose I also find both their methods and rhetoric deeply repulsive. Well, despite all that, I want to say thanks – because this Christmas, Youth Defence played a significant part in giving women the long-awaited gift of provision for abortion in Ireland.

Six months ago, Youth Defence ran a well-funded nationwide campaign, advising the general public that there was “always a better answer” than abortion, and that abortion “tears her life apart”. These completely false assertions, coupled with imagery of foetuses and sonograms, provoked disgust all across the country. Counter-campaigns were launched, complaints were brought to TDs, Senators and Councillors, queries were raised regarding advertising standards and accountability – and, ultimately, protests were organised leading to marches being attended.

Unwittingly, Youth Defence had recruited a new generation of pro-choice activists with these billboards. This new wave joined the solid vanguard of Irish feminists and politicians who had long advocated the introduction of legislation for abortion in Ireland. These men and women were united under one purpose, and united in their disbelief at the twenty year paralysis of successive Irish governments.

Youth Defence and their ilk certainly aren’t the only problem. Several major barriers stood and stand in the way of safe, legal access to abortion in Ireland. In 1983, the 8th Amendment was inserted into the Irish Constitution – the so-called “pro-life amendment”, otherwise known as Article 40.3.3. It was actually adopted during a Fine Gael and Labour coalition government, which certainly sounds a bit familiar. Ever since then, the “right to life of the unborn” has been enshrined in our Constitution as “equal” to that of a woman. Absolutely no qualifications exist regarding what constitutes “the unborn”, nor what exactly “as far as practicable” means when saving the life of a woman – nor does it mention her health. It is a vague, almost meaningless, deeply problematic element of our shared laws in this country and it still exists. It still exists, and any legislation brought in in 2013 by Fine Gael and Labour will never and can never change that without complete repeal. Our decades-long national wrangling with abortion is a direct result of this knotty part of our Constitution.

The 8th Amendment has real and frightening ramifications for the well-being of women in Ireland. Savita Halappanavar’s death this year from complications due to an extended miscarriage proved this. Her untimely passing after days of agony shocked not only the newest pro-choice advocates that Youth Defence helped create, but also sparked outrage in people who had never considered the issue before. The comfortable safety valve of “catching the boat across” had massaged most of us into a dull acceptance of our lack of abortion laws. Savita’s death made painfully apparent the fact that most women can travel to access the medical care we need – except those who are too sick or too poor. Groups such as the Pro Life Campaign, the Catholic Church, the Iona Institute and Youth Defence had always told us – and in fact continue to repeat – that we in Ireland enjoyed the best maternal healthcare in the world, and that abortion is never necessary to save the life of a woman. In the aftermath of a case such as Savita’s, these half-truths rang empty and cruel.

Though Savita’s recent passing undoubtedly precipitated the action, it is the twenty year old X Case ruling of 1992 that we will now receive legislation and regulations under. The Ms X in question, a child who fell pregnant from abuse and threatened suicide over her lack of right to choose abortion, was granted travel for termination under the Supreme Court’s interpretation of that pesky old 8th Amendment. The judge rightly recognised that mental health is real health, and that suicide is a real risk for pregnant women. However, despite the quite liberal interpretation of the flaws in the Constitution, we will never have true and unencumbered protection for women’s health, well-being and livelihoods without a deletion of the Article in its entirety.

In 2002, ten years after the X Case Supreme Court ruling, Fianna Fail contested the general election with the swagger-filled poster tagline: “A lot done – more to do”. They won that election with that slogan, and continued their decades of power, proceeding to ride the country directly into an economic abyss. As Fianna Fail won election after election, they also held two referendums on abortion. One of these was alongside that general election in 2002, their second attempt to try and twist the X Case ruling via referendum.

Twice they asked the Irish electorate if they were totally sure that the threat of suicide was grounds for access to abortion. Twice the electorate said yes. For years, because they didn’t quite get the answer they liked, they failed to legislate on X to protect half of our population or even to countenance genuine discussion of the issue. At the time of that general election and referendum, I was twelve years old. Though always an irritatingly precocious child, I still had no true conception of politics as having a genuine impact on me, no understanding that the decisions of suited older men affected my life. Ten years further down the line, these things feel a lot more real. The slogans on billboards in 2012 bothered me. Ultimately, they motivated me. They were telling me that there was “always a better answer” and I knew that it wasn’t true. I knew that nothing had been done, and that we have everything to do.

So, yes, this proposed action is a fantastic beginning, especially considering what’s come before. I’m delighted that the Irish government has decided that inaction caused by acute cowardice is no longer a viable strategy. Regulations, legislation and a review of the archaic law from the 1800s that criminalises abortion are on the horizon. After a long twenty years of fumbling and the tragic, preventable death of a woman in an Irish hospital, this is a step forward. But the abortion issue will hit another stumbling block if nothing is done about the 8th Amendment. So please, don’t forget the words of your dearly departed forbears, Enda. A lot done – more to do.

‘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.

Review shows maternal deaths under-reported – irishhealth.com

Review shows maternal deaths under-reported – irishhealth.com.

Review shows maternal deaths under-reported

[Posted: Fri 23/11/2012 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]

Ireland’s maternal mortality rate is twice as high as has been previously reported, new figures show.

The first report from the recently-established Maternal Death Enquiry – MDE Ireland system shows that our maternal death rate is 8 per 100,000 births, compared with 4 per 100,000 reported by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The MDE Ireland report, which uses wider criteria for defining maternal death than that used by the CSO, found that in the years 2009 to 2011 inclusive, 25 mothers who attended maternity hospitals with their pregnancies died.

The Irish report adopted the more comprehensive British classification system for determining maternal death, and collated detailed data on mortality from hospitals. It classified two of the deaths in the period as being due to suicide.

In the wake of the death of Savita Halappanavar, assurances have been made by health authorities and the medical profession that Ireland has one of the lowest maternal death rates in the world. However, the new report shows that while our maternal death rate is still relatively low by international standards, it is higher than has been previously reported in official statistics.

According to the report, seen by irishhealth.com, six of the 25 deaths were classified as direct maternal deaths, 13 as indirect maternal deaths, while the remaining six were attributed to ‘coincidental cause’. Forty per cent of the deaths recorded were in women not born in Ireland.

It says of the 25 deaths MDE Ireland recorded between 2009 and 2011 inclusive, among the six direct maternal deaths, three were due to pulmonary embolism, one from amniotic fluid embolism, one due to uterine rupture and one due to multi-organ failure secondary to the HELLP syndrome, a life-threatening pregnancy complication related to pre-eclampsia.

The report says of the 13 indirect maternal deaths recorded during the period, five were due to heart disease, two due to suicide, two were due to swine flu, two due to epilepsy, one due to serious lung disease and one due to an oesophageal bleed.

Of the six ‘coincidental’ deaths, two were due to metastatic cancer, one due to a road traffic accident, one due to lymphoma and two due to substance abuse.

The MDE Ireland system, set up in 2009 and run by leading medical and midwifery experts, is linked to the Confidential Maternal Death Inquiry system for England and Wales. This system is regarded as the ‘gold standard’ for confidential maternal death inquiry.

MDE Ireland classifies maternal deaths under the criteria of:

* ‘Maternal’ deaths of women while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy.

* ‘Direct’ deaths resulting from obstetric complications of pregnancy, from ‘interventions, omissions, incorrect treatment or from a chain of events resulting from any of the above’.

* ‘Indirect’ deaths resulting from a previous existing disease, or a disease developing during pregnancy and which was not due to obstetric causes, but where the disease was aggravated by the physical effects of the pregnancy.

* ‘Coincidental’ maternal deaths, from unrelated causes which happen to occur in pregnancy or the during or just after childbirth.

* ‘Late’ deaths occurring between 42 days and one year after abortion, miscarriage or delivery that are the result of direct or indirect maternal causes.

Figures used by the CSO for maternal deaths rely on the cause of death as recorded on the coroner’s death certificate alone, which experts believe limits the definition of a maternal death and has led to under-reporting of the true rate.

The most recent CSO figures recorded only one maternal death in 2010 and three in 2009.

The MDE Ireland report says its aim is to investigate why some women die during or shortly after pregnancy, and to learn how such tragedies can be avoided in the future.

The new figures mean our maternal mortality rate is on the same level as that of France, it is still less than that of the UK and the US, but is higher than that of Sweden and Norway.

Referring to the significant number of maternal deaths in Ireland among women born outside the country, the report says the issue of how these women engage with our maternity services needs to be dealt with, and highlighted the importance of the availability of interpretive services.

A particular concern, the report says, is the issue of engagement with maternity services by non-national patients getting alternative medical advice from outside the country.

The MDE Ireland report says there was reluctance in some hospitals to share maternal death data due to concerns over data protection, potential litigation and anticipated review of cases by other agencies.

It says pregnant women with pre-existing medical and mental health disorders should have risk assessment on booking into a maternity hospital, and they should be afforded high priority when referred for assessment by doctors in other medical disciplines.

The report recommends that a question on pregnancy status at time of death, similar to that on the medical death cert, should be included on the coroner’s death cert.