For Release: Woman Dies in UCHG after Being Denied a Life-Saving Abortion
On Sunday the 28th of October, Savita Praveen died at UCHG after being denied a termination which would most likely have saved her life. She was 31 years old, married for four years and hoping to start a family.
If legislation is not introduced immediately, more women will die. Under the X Case ruling, women in Ireland are legally entitled to an abortion when it is necessary to save their life. However, legislation has never been passed to reflect this. It is the failure of successive governments to do so that led to Savita’s death.
Savita was first admitted to the hospital on October 21st complaining of severe back pain. Her doctor initially told her that she would be fine, but she refused to go home. It became clear that her waters had broken, and she was having a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion). She was told that the foetus had no chance of survival, and it would all be over within a few hours.
However, her condition did not take its expected course, and the foetus remained inside her body. Although it was evident that it could not survive, a foetal heartbeat was detected. For this reason her repeated requests to remove the foetus were denied. By Tuesday it was clear that her condition was deteriorating. She had developed a fever, and collapsed when attempting to walk. The cervix had now been fully open for nearly 72 hours, creating a danger of infection comparable to an untreated open head wound. She developed septicaemia.
Despite this, the foetus was not removed until Wednesday afternoon, after the foetal heartbeat had stopped. Immediately after the procedure she was taken to the high dependency unit. Her condition never improved. She died at 1.09am on Sunday the 28th of October.
Had the foetus been removed when it became clear that it could not survive, her cervix would have been closed and her chance of infection dramatically reduced. Leaving a woman’s cervix open constitutes a clear risk to her life. What is unclear is how doctors are expected to act in this situation.
Rachel Donnelly, Galway Pro-Choice spokesperson stated:
“This was an obstetric emergency which should have been dealt with in a routine manner. Yet Irish doctors are restrained from making obvious medical decisions by a fear of potentially severe consequences. As the European Court of Human Rights ruled, as long as the 1861 Act remains in place, alongside a complete political unwillingness to touch the issue, pregnant women will continue to be unsafe in this country.”
Sarah McCarthy, Galway Pro-Choice member said:
“Galway Pro-Choice believes that Ireland must legislate for freely available abortion for all women. Deaths like Savita’s are the most severe consequence of the criminalisation of abortion, yet it has countless adverse effects. We must reflect long and hard on the implications of Savita’s tragic and untimely passing, and we must act to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.”
For more information please contact Galway Pro-Choice on 087 706 0715 or Sarah McCarthy on 085 7477 907
06/11/2012 15:44, Minister Varadkar Constituency wrote:
6th November 2012
Dear Ms [Sharrow]
Thank you for taking the time to contact me. You can be sure that I will take your views into account.
As committed to in the Programme for Government, an Expert Group, drawing on appropriate medical and legal expertise, was established in January to study the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on the ABC v. Ireland case. In that judgement, the European Court held that the Irish State had failed to legislate to implement existing rights to lawful abortion when a mother’s life is at risk.
Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution states that: “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. “
The interpretation of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution arose in the “X case” in 1992. A majority of the members of the Supreme Court of Ireland held that, if it were established, as a matter of probability, that there was a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother and that this real and substantial risk could only be averted by the termination of her pregnancy, such a termination was lawful.
The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B and C v Ireland case confirmed that Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution is in conformity with the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the Court ruled that “no criteria or procedures have been… laid down in Irish law… by which that risk is to be measured or determined, leading to uncertainty…” and held that further legal clarity was required.
In order to address the judgment, and to fulfil a commitment included in the Programme for Government, the Government established an Expert Group, drawing on appropriate medical and legal expertise, with a view to making recommendations on how this matter should be properly addressed.
The Expert Group, Chaired by Mr Justice Sean Ryan, will report in September with recommendations on a series of options on how to implement the judgment taking into account the constitutional, legal, medical, and ethical considerations involved in the formulation of public policy in this area and the over-riding need for expeditious action in light of the ECtHR judgement.
The Government believes that this is the appropriate forum in which to examine this complex and sensitive matter.
When the Group finalises its report later this year the Government will then decide how to proceed.
Leo Varadkar T.D.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
Anyone spot that?
The Expert Group, Chaired by Mr Justice Sean Ryan, will report in September
Ok this is either an old stock reply, as it is now November or else the expert group is not reporting back until September 2013 which is far from expeditious. I have written back asking for clarity on this.
Still no reply from Joan Burton or Patrick Nulty.
IF you have still not Emailed your own TDs you can do, in one go here:
On 02/11/2012 17:20, Joe Higgins wrote:
Many thanks for getting in touch in relation to this important issue. Myself and my colleagues in the United Left Alliance have been to the fore in pushing for legislation for the X-case. We will continue to pressure the Government to introduce this long overdue legislation. We will continue to raise this issue in the Dail if there is continued delaying tactics in relation to the report of the expert group.
Dail Assistant to Joe Higgins TD
I got a wonderfully prompt reply, still waiting on replies from Joan burton and Patrick Nulty. I am going to email them again.
So finally the date has been set, November 10th, a Saturday, and the wording has been announced.
Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution
PROPOSED NEW ARTICLE 42A
The State recognises and affirms the natural and imprescriptible rights of all children and shall, as far as practicable, by its laws protect and vindicate those rights.
1° In exceptional cases, where the parents, regardless of their marital status, fail in their duty towards their children to such extent that the safety or welfare of any of their children is likely to be prejudicially affected, the State as guardian of the common good shall, by proportionate means as provided by law, endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child.
2° Provision shall be made by law for the adoption of any child where the parents have failed for such a period of time as may be prescribed by law in their duty towards the child and where the best interests of the child so require.
Provision shall be made by law for the voluntary placement for adoption and the adoption of any child.
1° Provision shall be made by law that in the resolution of all proceedings –
i brought by the State, as guardian of the common good, for the purpose of preventing the safety and welfare of any child from being prejudicially affected, or
ii concerning the adoption, guardianship or custody of, or access to, any child,
the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.
2° Provision shall be made by law for securing, as far as practicable, that in all proceedings referred to in subsection 1° of this section in respect of any child who is capable of forming his or her own views, the views of the child shall be ascertained and given due weight having regard to the age and maturity of the child
What does this mean?
It means that we are one step closer to being in line with the United Nations Convention of the rights of the child, which was written in 1989 and which we as a sovereign state signed up to in
1990 and ratified in 1992. The rights referred to in the amendment are those listed by in the
UN Convention of the rights of the child which are pretty extensive and you can read through it here.
This referendum and the tackling of the imbalance of the patronage system of schools are part of what has been needed to be done for the last 20 years but previous governments have failed to do them.
So make sure that you can vote by checking http://checktheregister.ie/ and remember that this referendum is on a Saturday November 10th, so no day of school for the kids and hopefully we will have a good turn out.
I never liked the original much but this one is glorious.