Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Irish abortion laws are about to be reviewed

When it was revealed to the public that the death of Savita Halappanavar, on 28th of October, was because health officials declined to carry abortion, it gave a lot to think about for the Irish society.
Protesters outside Leinster House in Dublin

All started on the 20th of October, when Savita felt back pain so disturbing, that it was decided that she and her husband would go to hospital. At that time she was pregnant and on her 17th week. Next day they went to the hospital, but only the persistence of Halappanavars got them signed in to the hospital. First, after a series of tests, they were told that nothing was wrong, and the same thing happened when they returned just a half an hour later after being released to go home. It was when they were appointed to doctor when it was realised, after further examinations, that the cervix was dilated. Seven days later Savita Halappanavar was dead. She could have been saved if the pregnancy would have been terminated.

Some say that it is legal to have an abortion in Ireland, and this is based on The Case X. Although it is illegal to have an abortion in Ireland, there is a basis for it, if mother's life is in danger. Ireland has been in juridical vacuum since the Supreme Court ruling in 1992. In this case, 14 year old rape victim was allowed to have an abortion since there was a risk of suicide. Supreme Court's reasoning was that if the mother was suicidal, the fetus' rights are contingent of the mother's rights.

Now the Irish abortion law is probably going to be written again, but that won't be an easy task. Telegraph reported yesterday that Maria Steen of Iona Institute stated that "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." Clearly this was not the case in the death of Savita Halappanavar. Iona Institute is an Irish think tank of conservative nature, that is to say, it produces material, which is aimed against same-sex marriage, abortion, morning-after-pill, etc. (Pro tip: I don't recommend using their search engine, located on their website, cause it works as slowly as an christian anecdote about freedom of conscience concerning matters of choice. You'll find the information your looking a lot faster by using google and adding your keywords plus Iona Institute). Here's more of Maria Steen in Newstalk.

At the moment it seems that the new law is going to be based on the Case X. With no disrespect to anyone, it is fascinating to be following how this political struggle will end, with regards to Irish distinctive history in matters of abortion. This debate might explode to have a law that also includes abortion by demand, which in itself is abomination to orthodox Catholics. I think that if the law is going to be a compromise, that nobody wants, it's going to allow abortion on medical reasons (for conservatives it's the same thing as on demand; for liberals it's the same thing as still illegal). Even this kind of compromise would still give a lot wider framework for pro-choice people. There is always the possibility that medical reasons could be widened to include suicidal tendency qualified by the standards of the conceived. Which could in fact end that people who want an abortion by demand, just say that they are suicidal.

Draft of the law is bound to be published New Year, according to Enda Kenny, and the legislation should be ready by Easter. This could be one defining moment for Ireland. So I would recommend that people follow this case with a keen eye, cause this is history in making.

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