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Doctors for Choice: But What Will Change?

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With inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar  concluded and the Irish government on the brink of bringing forth new legislation – a position, recall, forced on it by a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights – it seems timely to remind ourselves of what will NOT change here in Ireland despite all that has happened.

In the video below, Dr Mary Favier,  (Doctors for Choice) sets out the following key points about the current situation here in Ireland and what the government legislation proposes NOT to address.  [The video was record at the March for Choice held in Cork in March, 2013].

She states:

1) The new proposed legislation will affect no more than 5 to 10 Irish women every year.  This is a miniscule number compared to the actual number of women in Ireland who consider the option of a termination in any one year.

2) The new proposed legislation would not have helped Savita and Praveen Halappanavar to overcome the legal obstacles placed in their way and which, in effect, led directly to Savita’s death when she was refused an abortion in Galway last year – see article link below.

3) The proposed legislation will not help any woman who has an unwanted pregnancy as a result of a criminal act such as rape or incest.  Such a women will still have to travel outside the Irish state to obtain a termination.

4) The proposed legislation will not help any of the estimated 4000-5000  women who travel out of Ireland each year to have an abortion.

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March for Choice, Cork: 30 Secs Video and 5 Photos…

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The times are a changing – that much I have to report.  For not a few years I have wished for change to come and to come quickly, but it takes it own course that I’ll admit.

Nevertheless last Saturday’s March for Choice in Cork was proof that change has come in a small though discernible way.  By no mean a big march but nevertheless a march that simply wouldn’t have happened in Cork even a short number of years ago.

One of the outcomes of the Savita Halappanavar tragedy, no doubt. But also a reflection of the fact that many women do not accept the silence around abortion any longer.  Women are now prepared to speak up and speak out; they are also prepared to say that they have had a termination.

At Cork’s March for Choice, speakers such as Ailbhe Smyth and Mary Favier (Doctors For Choice) spoke about the need to move on and remove the 8th Amendment to the Irish constitution – the 8th Amendment in effect bans termination in Ireland in all but very limited and unique circumstances.   But another women also spoke graphically and bravely about her own plight as a victim of rape and about having to travel to the UK for a termination – just a few months ago.  A confession that brought home to those of us present (as ever) that desperate cirucmstances often attend to the matter of choice and abortion.

As I say, a march that just would not have happened on the streets of Cork before.  So 30 secs of video and five photos:

From X to ABC – Ireland and abortion

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The claims of the ABC women were opposed by the Irish government from the outset.  Not just opposed though.  The Irish government fought these women tooth and nail all the way along the road to this judgement.  It is not an overstatement to say that vast sums of money were spent on legal fees and on employing the best legal advocates for their grand effort to defeat these women!  Apparently the Irish attorney general himself took a personal interest in attempting to win this case for the Irish government.

Surprised?  Don’t be.  Never forget the outrageous  actions of the Irish government back in 1992 when they prevented a young Irish teenager from leaving the country of Ireland.  Can you believe they actually tried to do that?  Well, they did.  The girl in question was at the centre of the infamous X-Case.  She became pregnant following a rape and sought to have an abortion.  What happened?  The Irish government tried to stop her leaving the state.  Widespread protests and condemnation saw the Irish government reversing its stand and the girl subsequently left Irish jurisdiction.

What has come to light in the cases of A,B and C is the very traumatic and difficult situation the many women find themselves in.  The case of Michelle Harte has just been highlighted and is well worth taking a closer look at.  Even though her life was in serious danger the so-called ‘ethics’ committee at Cork University Hospital barred her from having a termination.  Though seriously ill she had to make immediate plans to get to London in England to have the procedure performed there.  Michelle Harte has now come forward and spoken out about her situation.  It is a brave and admirable stand.  But also a vital stand. In reality only real cases that bring the realities that women face into the full light of public scrutiny can make a difference.  This has been the hard and difficult lesson for each small step of progress made here in Ireland – in all of those cases, X, C, D and ABC.

More women and more families affected by the draconian situation in this country must do the same.  As long as there is silence, the Irish government and its conservative Catholic allies can get away with their shenanigans.  They thrive on the silence and only when that silence is broken do we see their real behavior and approach: it is vindictive, uncaring and contemptuous of women’s lives.

By the way, the photo here is from a protest I attended back in 1992 in New York in solidarity with the X-Case girl.  Good to see the anger, good to see solidarity –  I remember it even now.

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Written by Kevin Doyle

December 16, 2010 at 12:28 pm

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