Anti-choicers in Ireland are giving the prime minister hell because he’s supportive of liberalizing their incredibly harsh abortion ban. Enda Kenny reports, “I’m getting medals, scapulars, plastic fetuses, letters written in blood, telephone calls all over the system, and it’s not confined to me.” Man, Catholicism does weird shit to people’s brains. It’s funny that they call themselves “pro-life”, when their tactics—obsessing over blood, fetishizing surgical pictures, sending scalpels in the mail—seems much, much closer to the habits of a serial killer.
Which, actually, under the circumstances is totally appropriate, because this deluge of mail has nothing to do with “life”—fetal or otherwise—but is straightforward advocacy of murdering pregnant women through medical neglect.
Spurred by the international outrage surrounding the death of Savita Halpannavar — an Indian woman who died after being denied an emergency abortion in an Irish Catholic hospital — Kenny approved legislation in April that would allow women to access abortion services if their life is in danger. On Wednesday, Ireland’s ministers signed off on a completed form of the legislation, and the parliament hopes to enact it before adjourning in July.
But, even though Ireland’s amended abortion law is still incredibly harsh — it doesn’t include any exceptions for rape, incest, or fatal fetal defects, and women’s health advocates caution that it’s only an incredibly small step toward greater reproductive rights — the deeply conservative nation has erupted into controversy.
Because letting women live is controversial. If the vessel cannot bring forth the child, the vessel—who has no value outside of being a baby machine—needs to be tossed onto the trash. That said vessel is a human being with feelings, thoughts, and people who love her is no matter, apparently. I bet even veternarians in Ireland are allowed to abort a pet’s pregnancy if it’s a danger to the animal. That’s where women rank in the minds of anti-abortion fanatics.
After the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, the 31-year-old woman who died after being denied an abortion in an Irish Catholic hospital, the fight for reproductive rights has taken on a new fervor in Ireland. Activists flooded the streets to declare that Savita’s death won’t be in vain, demanding a policy shift in the socially conservative country’s stringent abortion laws. And now, inspired by the momentum sparked by Savita’s case, pro-choice activists are risking up to 14 years in prison to spread the word about how Irish women can safely travel to Great Britain to obtain an abortion.
Under Ireland’s total abortion ban, women aren’t able to legally terminate a pregnancy unless their lives depend on it — but, as Savita’s case illustrates, doctors in the deeply Catholic country are often wary to provide abortion care even in cases of medical emergency. The rest of Europe allows for much greater reproductive freedom. On average, about 11 Irish women travel to Britain each day to terminate a pregnancy. Activists are risking jail time to disseminate information to those women, giving them more resources to help them access the care they need either abroad or online:
They are targeting cafes, pubs, clubs, gym changing rooms and public toilets with thousands of leaflets giving contact details for British abortion clinics as well as the price of terminations. The literature includes a website where Irish women can buy early abortion pills (effective up to nine weeks of pregnancy) online via womenonweb.org.
Organisers and supporters behind the campaign, which began after Savita Halappanavar’s death in Galway University Hospital last autumn, say they intend to intensify their leaflet blitz after the government approved a bill on Tuesday to allow for strictly limited abortions in Ireland.
Disseminating information on how to buy early abortion pills is illegal in the Republic and under the new legislation those helping to procure an illicit termination risk being jailed for up to 14 years.
The Abortion Support Network (ASN), a Irish charity that helps women access abortion services in Britain, applauded the guerrilla campaign. “The leaflet is a one-stop shop that tells women which local organisations can provide unbiased information about all their options, contact details for clinics in England and information on where to turn to for financial help or access to early medical abortion pills,” one of ASN’s founders, Mara Clarke, told the Guardian. “This information needs to be put into the hands of women and I hope the leaflets find their way into every women’s toilet, changing room and pub in Ireland.”
The proposed measure also doesn’t include any exceptions for rape, incest, or fatal fetal defects. A group of women who were forced to travel to Britain to obtain an abortion because their fetuses had fatal abnormalities, and therefore would have died shortly after birth, told the Guardian they have been “left out and let down” by the new legislative push.
Ireland’s government pledged Tuesday to pass a law soon that will allow women to receive abortions if continued pregnancy threatens their lives — including from their own threats to commit suicide if denied one.
The announcement comes after decades of inaction on abortion in Ireland, and just weeks after the predominantly Catholic country faced international criticism over the death of an Indian woman hospitalized in Ireland with an imminent miscarriage.
Health Minister James Reilly said parliamentary hearings on the issue would begin next month, lawmakers would receive a bill by Easter and they would be expected to vote on it by the summer. This would mark the first time that Irish lawmakers have ever voted on abortion, arguably the most divisive issue in a country whose constitution bans the practice.
The government of Prime Minister Enda Kenny promised a swift response after the Oct. 28 death of 31-year-old dentist Savita Halappanavar. Authorities did not make public the woman’s death at the time, but her widower accused doctors at University Hospital Galway of refusing to terminate the pregnancy because the doomed 17-week-old fetus still had a heartbeat.
Halappanavar spent three days in increasing pain and illness before the fetus died and its remains were surgically removed. She then died from blood poisoning and organ failure three days after that. Her husband has refused to cooperate with two official Irish investigations into her death and instead is planning to sue Ireland in the European Court of Human Rights.
For two decades, successive Irish governments have resisted passing any law in support of a 1992 Supreme Court judgment that abortion should be legalized in Ireland in exceptional cases where pregnancy endangers a woman’s life. Ireland’s highest court ruled that a 14-year-old girl who had been raped by a neighbor should be provided an abortion because she was making credible threats to kill herself if denied one.
In 1992 and 2002, governments asked voters to approve constitutional amendments that would permit abortions only in medically essential circumstances, and exclude suicide threats as valid grounds. Voters rejected the proposals on both occasions.
Catholic conservatives oppose the court’s suicide-threat justification, arguing it could be used to expand access to abortion beyond relatively rare cases where a pregnancy endangers a woman’s life.
DUBLIN (AP) — About 10,000 people marched through Dublin and observed a minute’s silence Saturday in memory of the Indian dentist who died of blood poisoning in an Irish hospital after being denied an abortion.
Marchers, many of them mothers and daughters walking side by side, chanted “Never again!” and held pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they paraded across the city to stage a nighttime candlelit vigil outside the office of Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
The 31-year-old, who was 17 weeks pregnant with her first child, died Oct. 28 one week after being hospitalized with severe pain at the start of a miscarriage. Her death, made public by her husband this week, has highlighted Ireland's long struggle to come to grips with abortion.
Doctors refused her requests to remove the fetus until its heartbeat stopped four days after her hospitalization. Hours later she became critically ill and her organs began to fail. She died three days later from blood poisoning. Her widower and activists say she could have survived, and the spread of infection been stopped, had the fetus been removed sooner.
The case illustrates a 20-year-old confusion in abortion law in Ireland, where the practice is outlawed in the constitution. A 1992 Supreme Court ruling decreed that abortions should be legal to save the life of the woman, including if she makes credible threats to commit suicide if denied one. But successive governments have refused to pass legislation spelling out the rules governing that general principle, leaving the decision up to individual doctors in an environment of secrecy.
The Irish government’s inaction on abortion means that the only law on the books dates to British rule in 1861, declaring that the “procurement of a miscarriage” amounts to murder and could be punishable by up to life in prison.
Irish voters in 1992 passed constitutional amendments legalizing the right of Irish women to receive information on abortion services in neighboring England, where the practice has been legal since 1967, and to travel there without fear of facing prosecution. British health authorities estimate that 4,000 to 5,000 Irish residents travel annually to England for abortions.
h/t: Yahoo! News
Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian woman living in Ireland, went to the hospital when she first began to miscarry — but thanks to Ireland’s stringent abortion ban, medical professionals denied her repeated requests to quickly terminate the pregnancy because they could still detect a fetal heartbeat. The Irish hospital required her to extend her miscarriage over three days until the fetus’ heartbeat officially stopped, and by that time, Halappanavar had developed serious blood poisoning. She passed away just a few days later.
Halappanavar’s death helps highlight the tragic effect of Ireland’s stringent abortion ban, but the impact of that type of restrictive legislation isn’t just limited to that country. In fact, lawmakers in Ohio are quietly pushing extreme anti-abortion legislation that would subject the women in that state to a situation incredibly similar to the one in Ireland.
During this year’s lame duck session, Ohio legislators are planning to revive HB 125, a so-called “heartbeat” bill that would ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which can first occur as early as five or six weeks, before many women may even know they’re pregnant. The proposed legislation represents the most restrictive abortion ban in the United States. If HB 125 is passed, it would criminalize all abortions after the emergence of a fetal heartbeat without allowing even the narrowest exceptions in potential cases of rape, incest, or the mental health of the woman.
A 1992 Supreme Court ruling in Ireland amended the country’s abortion ban to include an exception in cases where the woman’s life is in danger, but Irish hospitals don’t always know how far that medical exception can stretch. They are often reluctant to provide women with abortion services unless the situation is very clearly life-threatening — and for women like Halappanavar, that can already be too late.