Tag Archives: prochoice

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.

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.

“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

Galway Pro Choice Were Approached by Savita’s Friends

For Release: Galway Pro Choice Were Approached by Savita’s Friends

As was made clear by Sarah McCarthy of Galway Pro Choice on last night’s Prime Time programme on RTE, Galway Pro Choice were approached by the friends of Savita Praveen Halapannavar on 3rd November 2012. They came to us before going public with her story. Their only wish was to try to make sure that what
happened to Savita would never happen to another woman again in Ireland.

After an initial phone call on 3rd November from a friend of Savita and Praveen’s, Savita’s friends sent Galway Pro Choice an email containing more details of the case. A meeting between Galway Pro Choice and approximately ten of Savita’s friends then took place, during which they explained the facts of the case as they saw them. They believed that a termination may have saved Savita’s life. They requested the assistance of Galway Pro Choice in deciding how to proceed.

Galway Pro Choice presented Savita’s friends with a number of options, including the option of not releasing the story at all. The option of releasing the story anonymously, without a name or place being mentioned, was also discussed. However, Savita’s friends and her husband Praveen felt that going fully public with the tragic story of Savita’s death was what they wanted to do in order to bring home to the public how Ireland’s abortion laws can place pregnant women in danger. A phone call between Galway Pro Choice and Savita’s husband Praveen, in India, also occurred, in which Praveen reiterated his desire to go public with the story.

Galway Pro Choice then put Praveen and his friends in touch with the Irish Times. We explicitly made clear to Praveen and his friends that if they were uncomfortable in any way, at any stage, with any of our activities they should just say so and we would immediately do what they wished. We have informed them in advance of all of our planned activities so far, and they have been supportive of all of them. Savita’s friends were present at the candlelit vigil we held on Saturday in Galway, and expressed their amazement that anyone could say that we were ‘taking advantage of’ or ‘hijacking’ the tragedy of Savita’s death.

Now that these facts have been made clear, any and all implications by anti-choice campaigners or politicians to the effect that Pro-Choice groups are taking advantage of this tragedy should stop. If they do not, they must be interpreted as deliberately misleading statements. As well as being false, they are offensive and potentially upsetting to Savita’s family and friends.

Galway Pro Choice would also like to make the following points:

– We must legislate on the X Case immediately; Government statements that it will take months to get legal clarity are unacceptable.

– Minister for Health James Reilly must instigate a fully independent public inquiry now.

– The Expert Group Report should be released to the public immediately.

– The only way to safeguard the health of pregnant women in Ireland is to guarantee access to free, safe, and legal abortion for all women.

We will be holding a public meeting this Thursday, 22nd November, at 7:30pm in the Harbour Hotel in Galway on the urgent need to legislate for the X Case. Speakers include Clare Daly ULA TD; Mary Smith, a retired midwife and pro-choice activist, and Ailbhe Smyth, former Head of Women’s Studies at University College Dublin, and women’s rights activist. Sarah McCarthy of Galway Pro-Choice will chair the meeting.

On Saturday, December 1st we will be hosting a national demonstration in Galway on the need to immediately legislate for the X Case. The demonstration will assemble at the Spanish Arch at 2pm.

For more information email us at prochoicegalway@gmail.com or call 0860621503 or 0877060715.

Yes Pro Choice groups did know about Savita’s death before the newspapers were published and they respected the family’s requests.