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
The first ever clinic to offer abortions on the island of Ireland will open in one weeks’ time.
Marie Stopes International is setting up a centre on Great Victoria Street in Belfast.
The not-for-profit organisation operates in 42 countries around the world.
It is one of the leading providers of sexual and reproductive healthcare services in Britian.
The new Belfast clinic will be open to women over the age of 16 including those who travel from the Republic.
Women who attend there will have a consultation and a scan before 2 doctors assess whether they are eligible for an abortion up to 9 weeks into their pregnancy.
The cost of the non-surgical procedure is expected to be around stg£350 (€435).
The director of the new clinic in the city is Dawn Purvis.
She spoke with Breakfast here on Newstalk.
There is a Maire Stopes clinic in Dublin, the will not currently be able to offer the service of medical abortions but they should have information about the services in the Belfast clinic.
Marie Stopes Reproductive Choices
10/11 Berkeley Street
Phone: (01) 830 0630
Fax: (01) 830 0629
The first sexual and reproductive health centre to offer abortion services on the island of Ireland will open in Belfast next Thursday.
Marie Stopes Northern Ireland, based in purpose-built city centre premises on Great Victoria Street, will offer contraceptive options, HIV testing, STI testing and treatment, ultrasound scanning, and medical abortion up to nine weeks gestation.
Anyone over the age of 16 can access the centre, including people from the Republic, and services are available by appointment only. Marie Stopes International, which is a not-for-profit organisation, is the UK’s leading provider of sexual and reproductive healthcare services. It has been established for over 30 years, and works in 42 countries around the world.
It will be medical abortions only which means for some women living up there they won’t have to travel to the mainland UK. It’s a start, hopefully we will have similar services here too.
Minister sets up expert group on abortion rights
In this section »
DEAGLÁN de BRÉADÚN, Political Correspondent
MEMBERS OF the medical, legal and nursing professions are to sit on a 14-member expert group being set up to address the outcome of last year’s European Court of Human Rights ruling on abortion rights in Ireland.
Minister for Health James Reilly received approval at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting to establish the group. It will be in place by the end of the year or shortly thereafter and will have six months to deliver a report to Government.
The European Court ruled last December that the State had failed to implement existing rights to lawful abortion where a mother’s life is at risk. The court found the State violated the rights of a woman with cancer who said she was forced to travel abroad to obtain an abortion.
The programme for government pledged to “establish an expert group to address this issue, drawing on appropriate medical and legal expertise with a view to making recommendations to Government”. As required under the procedures of the court, the Government submitted an action plan last June, outlining its intention to set up the expert group.
Also at yesterday’s meeting, Taoiseach Enda Kenny received approval for the establishment of an interdepartmental committee on European engagements as a subcommittee of the Cabinet.
Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton is expected to play a prominent role on this committee, which will monitor and co-ordinate the Government’s involvement with EU institutions.
I have known for the years the stats are bad and I have blogged about it before and that even if you do report it to the garda ( and according to the rape cirises network only 10% do go to the gards) that then there is a good chance that after your attacker being brought to the garda station for statements and the file being sent to the Department of Public prosecution they may choose not to take the case but I didn’t know it was as high as 70%.
DPP rejects 70% of sex crime referrals
By Jennifer Hough
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
AT least 70% of suspects in sex offence cases are not being prosecuted by the Director of Public Prosecutions, figures obtained by the Irish Examiner have revealed.
Statistics provided by the DPP also reveal that, since 2008, there have been just 24 convictions in cases relating to people aged under 18. They were secured from 531 files submitted to the office by gardaí.
So far this year, a high of 179 cases concerning under 18-year-olds, in which there were 201 suspects, were sent to the DPP.
An analysis of the figures from 2008 to October 2011 shows:
* In 2010, 1,254 files with 1,407 suspects were sent to the DPP. No prosecution was directed in 1,002 (70%) of those;
* In 2009, 1,043 files with 1,204 suspects were sent. No prosecution was taken against 883 (73%) suspects;
* In 2008, 962 files with 1,055 suspects were sent. No prosecution was directed in 784 (74%) cases.
To October 2011, gardaí sent 1,083 files concerning 1,213 suspects to the DPP. There was no prosecution taken in relation to 736 suspects. A further 270 are pending.
The figures reveal that conviction rates for serious sex offences in the higher courts are not going up — despite a steady rise in the number of files submitted to the DPP in recent years.
Since 2008, there have been 233 convictions in the Central Criminal Court and Circuit Court. In 443 cases over the same timeframe, “no final outcome” was recorded. There can be several reasons for this, for example, if the gardaí cannot locate the accused, if a case is still pending or if a case is awaiting a re-trial where the jury could not reach a verdict during an earlier trial.
The Rape Crisis Network of Ireland called on the DPP to give victims reasons for not prosecuting a case.
“Very many survivors of sexual violence who take the decision to report the crime to the guards will not have their case prosecuted,” said a network spokesperson.
“For survivors, this can be very difficult to understand and accept.
“We would like to see the DPP extend a pilot project to start giving people reasons for non-prosecution in relation to unlawful killing to include sexual offences.”
The figures show that, in 2010, just 10 convictions were secured in the Central Criminal Court, where 67 people were initially prosecuted. Of the 145 offences tried in the Circuit Court concerning 154 suspects, there were 32 convictions.
Also last year, of 203 suspects in 173 alleged crimes against under 18-year-olds, the DPP did not prosecute 163 (80%) of the suspects.
There was one conviction in the Central Criminal Court, and five in the Circuit Court. One case is still pending direction.
According to the DPP’s office, it receives a file in all detected cases of a sexual nature. Gardaí do not filter “unprosecutable” cases.
For this reason, the office receives a large number of files, some of which are seriously lacking in evidence.
This means they will only bother with cases which they can get a jury to prosecute and given the horrible attitudes to wards sex and women in this country, as over 1/3 of people think the victim is at fault. It means that you have to be a ‘good girl’ and have very little of a sexual history for to have them think it’s not your ‘fault’.
Given that even if the DPP takes your case it can take up to 118 weeks, that’s over two years before it sees the inside of a court room and you have to live with that hanging over you and that’s even harder if the attacker is someone you know which statically is likely.
The system is beyond deeply flawed and needs to change.
Greer launches symphysiotomy book
A pelvic operation carried out during childbirth which left women with lifelong problems breached their constitutional rights and was unlawful, according to a new book on the subject launched this morning.
Bodily Harm: Symphysiotomy and Pubiotomy in Ireland 1944-92 by Marie O’Connor, found the operation, which involved the use of a wire saw to widen the pelvis, was generally performed without the consent of women and “amounted to battery in law”.
The book claims the procedure was “resurrected from the graveyard of obstetric surgery” by the National Maternity Hospital, that it was “experimental” and women were used as teaching aids for practitioners who would be working in overseas hospitals.
Ms O’Connor said evidence debunked the myth that the procedure was standard surgery for difficult births and that it was gradually replaced by caesarean section.
“Symphysiotomy was never a norm for difficult births, ever, in any country because it was seen by doctors as too dangerous,” Ms O’Connor said.
It was carried out because the alternative, a caesarean section was seen as limiting the number of children a woman could have, she said.
The book was launched this morning by the feminist academic Germaine Greer.
Ms Greer said while she believed there was “a place” for the procedure when performed properly and in particular circumstances, it appeared not to have been carried out correctly in Ireland.
“For some reason the childbed is a battlefield and it is a battlefield in which women take punishment and what you can’t understand is why exactly,” she said.
She said women lost control of childbirth in the 17th century to the man midwife “who came racing in even then with his swords and his forceps and with his goal-oriented thing of lets get this over quickly, lets not mess around”.
We had all seen the progressive medicalisation of pregnancy and childbirth, she said.
“We are very prone to believe that we can’t carry out the procedure, we can’t manage the process ourselves. We believe it when we are told that we need sometimes quite destructive interventions,” she said.
“Throwing your weight around, even at your most powerful as a mother-to-be is something that comes hard to women.”
She told members of the Survivors of Symphysiotomy who were present at the launch that she did not think they would get “any joy” out of any of the “medical colleges”.
“One of the things they will do is discredit all the women’s evidence,” she said.
“We will never find out why they did what they did because they don’t actually know, because they were in fact behaving irrationally under the pretext of being super rational.”
There was a lady who lived near me growing up who had this done.
She wasn’t married at the time she gave birth, she was engaged but that meant nothing and after she was a mess after the operation and could not recover her husband to be and father of her child called off the marriage, for what use would she be when she couldn’t walk with out crutches.
She spent her life on crutches and in considerable pain but brought up her daughter to be a wonderful person. Unfortunately she died in a car crash some years ago and so is one of the many who will never have justice for what was done to her.
Did you know that today is International Women’s Day?
Did you know that it’s a 100 years from the first one?
In 1910 the first international women’s conference was held in Copenhagen (in the labour-movement building located at Jagtvej 69, which until recently housed Ungdomshuset) by the Second International and an ‘International Women’s Day’ was established, which was submitted by the important German Socialist Clara Zetkin, although no date was specified. The following year, 1911, IWD was marked by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, on March 19.
However, soon thereafter, on March 25, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City killed over 140 garment workers. A lack of safety measures was blamed for the high death toll. Furthermore, on the eve of World War I, women across Europe held peace rallies on 8 March 1913. In the West, International Women’s Day was commemorated during the 1910s and 1920s, but dwindled. It was revived by the rise of feminism in the 1960s.
Demonstrations marking International Women’s Day in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik feminist Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday in the Soviet Union, and it was established, but was a working day until 1965. On May 8, 1965 by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women’s Day was declared as a non working day in the USSR “in commemoration of the outstanding merits of Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Fatherland during the Great Patriotic War, in their heroism and selflessness at the front and in the rear, and also marking the great contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples, and the struggle for peace. But still, women’s day must be celebrated as are other holidays.”
How is Women’s Day Celebrated?
On this day it is customary for men to give the women in their lives – mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters, colleagues, etc – flowers and small gifts. In some countries (such as Romania) it is also observed as an equivalent of Mother’s Day, where children also give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union celebrations of IWD were abandoned in Armenia. Instead April 7 was introduced as state holiday of ‘Beauty and Motherhood.’ The new holiday immediately got popular among Armenians, as it commemorates one of the main holidays of Armenian Church, Annunciation. However, people still kept celebrating IWD on March 8 as well. Public discussion held on the topic of two ‘Women’s Days’ in Armenia resulted in the recognition of the so called ‘Women’s Month’ which is the period between March 8 and April 7.
In Italy, to celebrate the day, men give yellow mimosas to women. Yellow mimosas and chocolate are also one of the most common March 8 presents in Russia and Albania.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, Moldova, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Serbia the custom of giving women flowers still prevails. Women sometimes get gifts from their employers too. Schoolchildren often bring gifts for their teachers as well.
The 2005 Congress (conference) of the British Trades Union Congress overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for IWD to be designated a public holiday in the United Kingdom.
This year the theme is equality.
There are 47 events happening in Ireland to mark the day.
It is on the real player on the rte.ie site this morning.
I knew about this, I knew about this long before Dr Neary’s scandal broke.
Growing up there was one of the local mammy’s who was on crutches all the time and this operation was the reason why. She had been an unmarried mother giving birth at the start of the 70s and this procedure was done to her. She lived her life in agony due to it being ‘done for her own good’.
The abuse of women when they are their most vulnerable was rife, esp those who were ‘fallen women’ with out a husband to ‘protect’ them.
Symphysiotomy is a discredited childbirth operation severing the pelvis that persisted in Ireland until as recently as the 1980s. Hundreds of Irish women, who were unknowingly subjected to the surgery, say they were left with severe and life-long side-effects, including walking disabilities, chronic pain, incontinence and depression.
Their doctors chose to perform symphysiotomy instead of Caesarean section, a safer alternative. They saw Caesareans as leading women into temptation, the ‘temptation’ to practice birth control.
Yes, they sawed open the joint of the pubic bone under local anesthetic and ruin women’s lives.
Symphysiotomy survivors demand inquiry
[Posted: Tue 24/06/2003]
By Deborah Condon
Irish women who unknowingly underwent symphysiotomies, an operation performed during childbirth between the 1950s and 1980s, are demanding a public inquiry into the practise, which they say, has left them with severe side effects, including extreme pain, incontinence and depression.
A symphysiotomy is a surgical procedure which is carried out to permanently widen the pelvis of a woman who might normally require repeat Caesarean sections. The cartilage of the symphysis pubis, which is the point where the pubic bones come together, is surgically divided during the procedure.
According to support group, Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SOS), Irish obstetricians sought to establish this operation as an alternative to Caesarean sections because it was thought that women subjected to repeated Caesareans ‘might be tempted to use contraception’.
SOS is now demanding answers as to why women were subjected to this procedure without their consent and in many cases, without their knowledge.
Rose, now aged 57, was 17 and pregnant with her first child when she went into labour on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, a doctor told her that her baby would soon be delivered. She was given what she later learned was a local anaesthetic and was then unknowingly subjected to a symphysiotomy.
“The pain was excruciating. My arms were pinned down by nurses and my legs were held up, like the way you would hold a turkey”, she explained.
After the procedure, when Rose had woken up, she was obviously eager to see her baby, who was in a nursery next door to her ward. However when she tried to stand up, she fainted with the pain and was told not to attempt to get up again. Rose ended up crawling on her hands and knees that night in a desperate attempt to see her baby, before a doctor found her and told a nurse to get a wheelchair for her.
A couple of days later, two nurses came to ‘teach me how to walk again’. She was let out of hospital 10 days after the birth, while her baby remained there for a month. Rose, whose partner died nine years ago, did go on to have more children. However her life has been marked by chronic pain and anger at what has happened to her.
“I have spent 40 years locked up for having a baby. I kept having to give up jobs because of the pain. I have never been on a holiday and I never go out. I have to wear sanitary towels all the time because of bladder problems. I have been to a psychiatrist and I am eventually going to be left on my own in a wheelchair”, she said.
Another survivor, Claire who was 29 and pregnant with her fifth child, was initially told she needed a Caesarean section, but was later told this was not necessary. Referring to what happened in the delivery room, she said she felt as though a ‘red, hot poker’ had been passed through her, the pain was so excruciating. She passed out and when she awoke, she was told that there had been complications, her pelvis had been broken and she would be in bed for five days. She was also told she would have to learn how to walk again.
“I was never followed up. I was never told that I would not be able to hold or nurse my baby. That child was raised in a pram because I couldn’t hold him, the pain was so bad. I couldn’t even play with him. It is 31 years later and I want answers”, she said.
SOS has requested a meeting with Health Minister, Micheal Martin, to discuss the situation. However to date, Mr Martin has failed to agree to meet with the organisation. SOS believes a public inquiry is necessary in order to determine:
-Why symphysiotomies were carried out when alternatives were available.
-Why the procedure was carried out here so often, compared to other European countries.
-Why no-one has been held accountable for the suffering of the women involved.
-Why this procedure was carried out without these women’s consent.
Apart from the inquiry, SOS would also like to see the establishment of a counselling service and helpline. It also believes that those affected should be provided with home help and home modifications where necessary.
“There are a lot of women in wheelchairs and housebound because of this. Who is going to look after them?”, the organisation added.
Knowing about this and some of the other abuses of women’s reproductive rights in this country is why I am such a contraceptive and women’s health information advocate.
Martin promises Symphysiotomy review
Wednesday, 1 October 2003 18:32
The Minister for Health, Micheál Martin, has promised that his department will carry out an independent review of the procedure of Symphysiotomy in Irish hospitals in the 1940s and 1950s.
He has also promised counselling and free health services for the victims.
This follows a meeting with representatives of over 200 women who are suffering serious health problems from the procedure.
The review still has not happened…
Riki “Garfunkel” Lindhome and Kate “Oates” Micucci sing a pro-gay marriage song in response to a Pat Robertson quote that legalizing gay marriage would lead to legalizing sex with ducks.
IFPA Launches Campaign for Safe and Legal Abortion in Ireland
Between January 1980 and December 2004, at least 117,673 women traveled from Ireland for abortion services in Britain. There are no statistics to account for the number of women who travel to other countries for abortion services
These are not faceless numbers.
This is your sister, your friend, your work college, your aunt, your mother, your girl friend, your ex girl friend, the person you see on the dart, luas, bus every morning,the girl in the newsagents, or checkouts or the girl that was giving you the eye the last time you were in that bar.
Every one of them made that very hard choice, made even harder by having to travel and in years gone by not being able to get information.
And then you have those that could not get the money together.
Who say they love their kid but wished their life could have been different but they did not have the money for flights ect.
Ideally every act of conception should be one that both people have planned but life doesn’t work that way, esp with the lack of education and of cheap contraception in this country.
So we ignore the big taboo.
Women don’t tell their stories.
They don’t share why they full of relief, guilt,sadness and happiness twice a year, usually the date of their termination and that date the child would have been born.
Being in the enviable position of having to think about an abortion is hard.
Having to make that choice is hard.
Having to make an appointment to get information or a referral is hard.
Keeping that appointment and talking out loud about your choice is hard.
Booking flights and traveling over, knowing that the mid morning flights
carry other women like you and the air stewards can spot them is hard.
Having to get into a taxi and give the name of the clinic and seeing the look of sympathy or shock, hard.
Facing the dr and the counselor in the clinic in the UK and having them ask
you if you are sure even after you have traveled all the way there is hard.
Traveling home, telling no one, having to go through the mental , emotional, hormonal and physical aftermath of a termination and most people not knowing what is up with you and you can’t tell them is hard.
Having this topic bandied about by people who have never been through it is hard.
Seeing pro lifer nuts on the streets of our city condemning so many women is hard.
Having it used as a political foot ball is hard.
Having it said that it is political foot ball is hard.
Having people make moral judgment about who would or could have a termination is hard.
And they say we DON’T punish women for having abortions in this country don’t make me laugh.
Being able to be there for a friend and travel with them and offer solace
and waiting for their call or text on those two days a year is hard also
but nothing compared to what they have been through.