Today sees the start of my series of rants. I’ve been reading a lot over the last few weeks about things that piss me off and I’ve decided to write about them. To do my bit to raise awareness. If you don’t want to read that’s fine 😀 And I apologise for all the links, I just think it’s easier, this post is already long enough without my trying to explain all the legalities and ins and outs of everything. (A lot of them are Wiki, but they pull all the news stories together).
Warning – This weeks post discusses abortion.
Ireland had a general election on 26th of February, five weeks on and we still don’t have a government. Because there was no overall majority the last lot are caretaking until they can decide between themselves who is actually going to be in charge. A typically Irish situation. There was an initial vote to see if the Taoiseach (prime minister) was going to carry on, he lost but is staying until they vote in a new one sometime after their Easter hols.
I had planned to talk about feminism for my first post but there has been a lot of talk in the last few days about abortion reform. Amnesty International Ireland are currently holding a two week protest to make sure abortion reform isn’t ignored while the parties fight it out. Every day 12 people, who represent the number of women and girls known to travel outside of Ireland for abortion services, will stand outside the Dail (parliament) buildings. And every day another 12 will join them.
Ireland has an appalling record when it comes to the treatment of women and children, from the Magdalene laundries to the mother and baby homes, from forced adoptions and testing of vaccines on children in these homes to the barbaric practice of symphysiotomy (more details here ) There still isn’t a statutory right to records for those who were adopted. I’m not going to spend ages on these topics in this post but I’ll probably have another rant about it soon.
I also remembered this whilst I was writing, Ireland is not the worst
In Northern Ireland there is a life sentence for the woman, her doctor and the midwife. Although I did read an article yesterday which shows a softening of attitude.
Abortion is a very touchy subject in Ireland even to the extent that when I went back into full time education it was one of the subjects we were discouraged from talking about. And I’d like to say just to be clear that I haven’t had an abortion. I was offered one when I was pregnant with my daughter because of antibiotics I took for a kidney infection before I knew I was pregnant, they had been known to cause deformities in lab animals, but there had never been a case in humans. This was in the UK, it wouldn’t have even been mentioned here. She’s now a happy and healthy 27. But I fully support the right of any woman to make her own choices.
During the election campaign not one candidate came to my door, I had a couple of canvassers and plenty of leaflets but that was it. And when all the parties are offering almost exactly the same things how can I ask about the things that are important to me? The main one I wanted to ask about was the eighth amendment. And not one leaflet mentioned it. For those of you who don’t know anything about Ireland and abortion the eighth amendment, which was introduced in 1983, states – ‘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.’ A new law was passed in 2013 allowing abortion in very limited circumstances – when the woman’s life is at risk or she is suicidal. Details of the whole ridiculous mess can be found here
Fatal foetal abnormalities, rape or incest are not grounds for abortion. An unlawful abortion carries a jail sentence of fourteen years, for the woman and the doctor. Every year approximately 5,000 women travel, mostly to Britain, to access abortion services. It is now allowable to seek help and advice although some advice clinics are there solely to prevent the woman travelling by intimidating her. The UN and Amnesty have both called Ireland out over its stance on abortion and there are increasing calls for a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment. A couple of cases have really brought things to a head in the last few years:
October 2012 -Savita Halappanavar, 30 years old died from complications of a septic miscarriage at 17 weeks, cause of death, septicaemia and organ failure, whether she would have survived if the foetus had been removed earlier is a matter of dispute. More details here
March 2014 – Miss Y, an asylum seeker, raped in her home country, arrived in Ireland and found out she was pregnant. She claimed to be suicidal, but because of the usual breakdown in the system she had to continue the pregnancy until her baby was delivered by caesarean at 25 weeks. More details here
9 December – A woman who was 17 weeks pregnant was declared brain dead. She was kept on life support while her family had to fight through the courts for her to be allowed to die. At one point the solicitor for the baby said she had no right to dignity as she was brain dead. More details here
A new piece of legislation that was passed after this case was The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 which includes a section on Advanced Healthcare Directives – which means you can decide how you want to be treated if you lose the ability to make decisions e.g. A do not resuscitate. All well and good, unless you’re a pregnant woman. Even if you decide on being allowed to die, being brain dead or for whatever reason, if you’re pregnant, the doctors must ignore your wishes. You can read more here
The whole situation makes me so angry as some of you may have noticed on Twitter. But I’m not going to apologise for trying to do my bit to change the barbaric treatment of pregnant women in this country. The government needs to man up, as it were, stop pussy-footing around the issue because they’re scared of losing votes and allow women to decide what to do with their own bodies.