Ireland’s abortion laws

November 25th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Ireland has opened a new investigation into the death of a woman denied an of her dying foetus, as the government scrambled to stem criticism of its handling of an incident that polarised the overwhelmingly Catholic country.

Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year old dentist, was admitted to hospital in severe pain on October 21 and asked for a termination after doctors said her baby would not survive, according to husband Praveen. 

But in a country with some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws, surgeons would not remove the foetus until its heartbeat stopped days later.

Husband Praveen Halappanavar, who believes the delay contributed to the blood poisoning that killed his wife on October 28, has said he would not cooperate with an investigation already launched by the country’s health service because he did not believe it would be neutral.

Barbaric. They knew the baby could not survive, but they still did nothing, with the mother then dying.

Ireland’s abortion stance is enshrined in a 1983 constitutional amendment that intended to ban abortion in all circumstances. In 1992, when challenged in the “X-case” involving a 14-year-old rape victim, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion was permitted when the woman’s life was at risk, including from suicide.

I understand that many Irish women just travel to Northern Ireland to get abortions.

Opposition party Sinn Fein introduced a motion to parliament on Wednesday calling for parliament to legislate on abortion, but it was rejected.

“Successive governments over the past 20 years have failed in respect of legislation. That failure is in large measure due to fear or cowardice,” said Mary Lou McDonald, vice president of Sinn Fein.

Not often I agree with Sinn Fein.

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66 Responses to “Ireland’s abortion laws”

  1. hj (6,995 comments) says:

    The Pope gets his instructions directly from God: you can’t argue with that!

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  2. Andrei (2,640 comments) says:

    Typical Liberal Lies.

    Under the existing laws of Ireland this baby could have been delivered. Why the medical decisions that were taken were made is an open question but it has nothing to do with Ireland’s abortion laws.

    But for Liberals who are ghastly people for whom the only things sacred are baby murder and sodomy, this is a chance to use shallow emotionalism to advance their repulsive agendas which have nothing to do with saving mothers lives but degrading people and mothers and motherhood in particular

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  3. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Nice to hear Dr Andrei knows better than the Irish physicians.

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  4. hj (6,995 comments) says:

    Isn’t your problem Andrei, a paradigm that sees humans as the creation of a supreme being?

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  5. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    If DPF bothered to do a simple wiki search it would show you that “Abortion in the Republic of Ireland is illegal unless it occurs as the result of a medical intervention performed to save the life of the mother.” They consider an unborn child is a person, so two lives need to be weighed up when making tough decisions. This might be controversial, but “barbaric”?

    I suspect this the investigation will find the fault was with a doctor that made the wrong clinical decision, and not the abortion laws.

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  6. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Sometimes weighing up both lives will result in the death of both, but that’s just God’s will, eh?

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  7. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    “I understand that many Irish women just travel to Northern Ireland to get abortions.”

    Meaning you don’t actually know. You just made it up. FFS.

    The UK abortion laws don’t apply to Northern Ireland. And thus are generally as restrictive as the Irish Republic. North Ireland got its first abortion clinic only a few months ago.

    Do you have evidence for your “understanding” or did you just fabricate it?

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  8. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    I shouldn’t worry too much about DPF making that one up. It’s a core feature of lots of his posts. Apparently, only the fuddy-duddy mainstream media need bother with accuracy.

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  9. kowtow (8,441 comments) says:

    Not surprised in the least about Sinn Fein .

    They’ve actively been involved in murder for decades .

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  10. salt (133 comments) says:

    And yet Andrei, under the existing laws of Ireland the baby was not delivered. That’s what happens when you hold the life of a fetus, even a dying one, in absolute legal equality to the life of the living, healthy woman carrying it – in trying to let that little fetus live however long god wishes, doctors will sometimes miscalculate how far toward death they can let the woman go, before they would no longer be able to bring her back.

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  11. kowtow (8,441 comments) says:

    Before the usual anti Catholic, pro abortion progressive women’s rights mob rush to judgement on this case (yeah fat chance,it’s already been called barbaric) you might like to take some time and read the background on the case.

    What struck me about this case was in the middle of the Gaza and Goma crises this was given such massive international coverage. One woman dies from a medical misadventure ,but as it’s a women’s rights /abortion issue the world’s “progressive” MSM get’s it’s indignation into high gear. Ireland must not have it’s own laws,it’s people are not sovereign. That’s why our pollies don’t allow referenda……they hold the power not the people,isn’t democracy great when you sit on the top of the heap?

    Women go to Britain for abortions,not Northern Ireland, which was exempted from that particular piece of legislation.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/topics/death-of-savita/

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  12. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    Not only does existing Irish legislation permit the termination of the pregnancy in such circumstances, but its also permissible according to Catholic doctrine.

    Secondly the stuff article is wrong. The Irish Supreme Court did not overturn a constitutional ban on abortion under all circumstances. The ban permits termination where the Mother’s life is in danger and the Supreme Court ruled that a threat by the mother to kill herself constitutes such a case.

    Since pretty much all parties agreed that Savita’s death should not have happened, the Sinn Fein motion was defeated in favour of a government amendment to the motion to wait for the publication of the expert groups report and Dail debate.

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  13. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    And yet Andrei, under the existing laws of Ireland the baby was not delivered.

    Under existing laws it was permitted as the 1983 ban allowed for termination in such circumstances. That the termination was not carried out speaks more to an issue with the mentality of the doctors involved than to the legislation.

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  14. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    … here we go …

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  15. salt (133 comments) says:

    I’m not saying it wasn’t permitted, metcalph – what I’m saying is that the law, as it stands, creates the mentality displayed by the doctors involved. After all, right up until the moment it’s too late, it’s still possible that the mother will survive and medical intervention would have been “unnecessary”.

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  16. salt (133 comments) says:

    @ the davincimode: I know! Still, gives this heathen something to do on a Sunday morning.

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  17. Minnie1972 (42 comments) says:

    Just read the link – I don’t see how anyone can read that and NOT think the whole thing was barbaric. That poor woman. YES it totally has to do with Ireland’s abortion laws. I wonder if the mockers in this thread have actually read what happened??? Also DPF said he understood women went to Northern Ireland – apparently they go to England. Whoop-dee-doo! So his understanding with respect to that was wrong. What does that really have to do with the point he made? Either way they point is they have to leave their own country to seek out an abortion. Nit picking is really really childish…

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  18. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @salt

    Do you realise that your little wink at thedavincimode makes no sense given that you’ve engaged in this thread with two comments in the first two hours.

    I assume this is because you think you’re better than the other people on this thread.

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  19. Harriet (4,969 comments) says:

    No it’s not good enough for the Church of England mob to be killing Catholic babies – Catholics MUST kill Catholics!

    You religious haters are such sick fucks! :cool:

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  20. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ Minnie

    I take your point. That said, the abortion debate should be done with facts. Not jumping to emotive conclusions. As DPF, and the MSM, seem to have done with this tragic case.

    It’s worth noting that in countries where abortion is free and legal, deaths of the mother still occur on the operating table. We don’t know the full facts about this situation so let’s wait til they come out.

    My nit-picking was because DPF usually does a good job at teasing out many many other issues, but here he’s dropped the ball, fabricated something, and let his prejudices get the better of him.

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  21. Griff (7,684 comments) says:

    and you god groupys are a bunch of no fucks

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  22. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    I’m not saying it wasn’t permitted, metcalph – what I’m saying is that the law, as it stands, creates the mentality displayed by the doctors involved. After all, right up until the moment it’s too late, it’s still possible that the mother will survive and medical intervention would have been “unnecessary”.

    So in your opinion, Irish doctors treating an ectopic pregnancy would not have aborted until the fetus’s heartbeat ceased? I don’t think so. In the vast majority of medically necessary terminations (for physical reasons), the doctors don’t wait. Hence blaming the death on a mentality created the legislation is a cheap cop-out. The doctors are supposed to do what is medically necessary within the law, not to chicken out of some necessary procedure due to perceived emanations and penumbras that they think are caused by the law.

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  23. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ Harriet

    I don’t think much is gained by insulting people. I think we’re on the same page regarding abortion but I can’t say I agree with the tone of your comments.

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  24. salt (133 comments) says:

    EWS, I was merely acknowledging a) that pro/anti-choice arguments on Kiwiblog get out of hand quite quickly and are quite tiresome for most readers, and b) that I am contributing to the problem this morning. I’m a bit disagreeable that way.

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  25. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ salt

    Oh, I totally agree, very tiresome. Both sides have firm views, which makes it harder for them to listen to facts and reason.

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  26. salt (133 comments) says:

    Metcalph, I’d certainly hope that an Irish woman with an ectopic pregnancy would receive the appropriate treatment. I’d also hope that a woman with a partial miscarriage would receive the appropriate treatment, as was not done in the case in question.

    Look, pregnancy and childbirth are dangerous, and difficult situations and decisions often arise. When you have any law that is ill-defined and which relies on officials’ judgment calls, it will be applied inconsistently; when such a law is regulating a dangerous and difficult business like pregnancy, mistakes – deadly mistakes – will happen, just as they have here.

    Women die in pregnancy and childbirth all the time; I just don’t think you should make it any riskier than it has to be, simply to avoid angering a God that doesn’t exist.

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  27. Harriet (4,969 comments) says:

    EWS#

    ‘The independant woman’ is NOT a women forgoing her maternal instincts and killing her own baby in the belief that she can’t ‘have’ the child in a cradle to grave welfare state.

    ‘Independant’ is that she can now kill what she doesn’t want.

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  28. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    EWS

    Perhaps you should loosen your trousers.

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  29. Jimmy Smits (246 comments) says:

    As per usual, it does not surprise me in the least to see the usual Christians showing absolutely zero compassion for a woman who has died. When looking at these posters who claim they are Christians, the legacy that Jesus left on this earth was certainly not one of empathy and kindness. Certainly a strong incentive for anyone who is not a Christian to want to believe in God.

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  30. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ salt – Those are red-herrings. And i don’t think the Irish laws are ill-defined.
    @ Harriet – I’m not sure what that has to do with my comment.
    @ thedavincimode – What?

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  31. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ Jimmy

    How have we shown no compassion?
    How do we show our compassion?

    Surely you’re not suggesting that to “show compassion” we have to just simply agree with the pro-choicers?

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  32. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    Jimmy Smits

    Coincidentally, I happened to become engaged in discussion with a priest a few days ago. He was a thoroughly nice fellow and it was not hard to sense the compassion and the tolerance of the man. After we finished chatting, I wondered off thinking of some of the usual suspects here and it stuck me that I preferred the version of Christianity that he and Keeping Stock practised, as opposed to that of the usual suspects. G** really needs to exert tighter control and ensure that only those fit for the task be trusted with marketing and PR.

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  33. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    EWS

    I SUGGESTED THAT YOU LOOSEN YOUR TROUSERS.

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  34. salt (133 comments) says:

    Well this thread is taking an even less coherent tack than usual.

    EWS – as I understand it, the Irish constitutional laws – which outlaw abortion point-blank – have not been updated to reflect the Supreme Court’s ruling that abortions should be permitted when necessary to save the life of the mother. In practice that makes for an ill-defined law, because ‘to save the life of the mother’ is a concept which can be interpreted numerous different ways, and the legislature has refused to clarify which interpretations are legal and which are not.

    I don’t think my statements above are red herrings – but maybe that’s because I’m a girl, and I too face the prospect of one day being pregnant and in physical danger. I’ll be damned if decisions about my life and well being are going to rest in the hands of a physician making calculations about when my life is endangered *enough* to act.

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  35. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ davinci

    Dude, I’m wearing shorts and am about to go the beach (in Auckland).

    Glad you met a nice priest. I’m actually quite a tolerant person. I count among my friends a few women who have had abortions, who know my views, and trust me, and a number of gay men, who again, know my views, but trust me. I also have two homosexual cousins who love spending time with me. And of course most of my friend who are middle of the road (probably left of centre) NZers.

    But being tolerant doesn’t mean that I get all weak at the knees and just agree with anything anyone says.

    You’re first comment today was “here we go”. And your second was “EWS, Perhaps you should loosen your trousers”

    When it comes to intolerance, maybe you need to look in the mirror.

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  36. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    FFS people! Where is your critical thinking!
    She died of septicemia. That totally fucks up your ability to clot. The last thing you need in a case of septicemia is an operation. That’s what she got. An operation as a last resort,
    Maybe if they’d done a D&C earlier she would have survived, maybe not. Sounds like her and her hubby decided that having a D&C would cure her illness given the baby was done for by then. The doctors my have seen the option as risky – you’re usually banged full of antibiotics with septicemia.
    No tribunal or court has inferred guilt but the news-repeaters have gone to town on this.
    The crux of the story so far is: some bereaved hubby gave his opinion to the press. Then because of the controversial nature, it’s turned into a political debate. He could just be pissed at the surgeons for not saving her life. He made some comment about not cooperating with the enquiry, because he could tell they weren’t going to see things his way. What a nice guy.
    The only real inference you can make is the husband is a cock for not wanting to know exactly why the wife died.
    Having children is risky. People die.

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  37. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    Metcalph, I’d certainly hope that an Irish woman with an ectopic pregnancy would receive the appropriate treatment. I’d also hope that a woman with a partial miscarriage would receive the appropriate treatment, as was not done in the case in question.

    The point, as you wilfully seem to miss, is that the Irish Doctors relied on the wrong test (Fetal heartbeat) to determine whether the procedure was necessary. The Irish law doesn’t require this test for a determination of whether the mother’s life was in danger and the doctors are being paid shitloads of money to determine whether the mother’s life is in danger so the Doctors were at fault regardless of how restrictive or liberal the abortion laws are.

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  38. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    EWS – as I understand it, the Irish constitutional laws – which outlaw abortion point-blank – have not been updated to reflect the Supreme Court’s ruling that abortions should be permitted when necessary to save the life of the mother

    You understand wrong. The ban permits abortion when the Mother’s life is in danger. The Supreme Court’s ruling was on what constitutes a danger to the Mother’s life. The reason that Irish haven’t updated the legislation was that the Supreme Court made a bullshit ruling (ie a Mother only has to claim that she will kill herself to get an abortion) to get over another stupidity (a teenaged rape victim was enjoined from leaving the Country to get an abortion). Ireland allows de facto abortion on demand so long as you do it out of the country. Hence there was no necessity to update the legislation.

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  39. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    In practice that makes for an ill-defined law, because ‘to save the life of the mother’ is a concept which can be interpreted numerous different ways, and the legislature has refused to clarify which interpretations are legal and which are not.

    It’s the job of the doctors to determine whether the Mother’s life is in danger, not the legislature!

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  40. ChardonnayGuy (1,206 comments) says:

    Pro-life? What a lie. They just want to see women die.

    Except that one did, this time. My heart goes out to this poor woman and her husband. It’s good to see mainstream citizens of the Republic of Ireland revolting against this religiously sanctioned act of conservative Catholic religious cruelty. And as for the anti-abortionists blathering about the Poor Little Fetuses, what a shame that their sense of concern for children seems to evaporate when it comes to their blind institutional loyalty, denial and mitigation pleas when it comes to the epidemic of Catholic clergy pedophilia and its hideous consequences.

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  41. questions (207 comments) says:

    The blood of this woman is on your hands, EWS and Andrei

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  42. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ salt

    No, the Irish constitution acknowledges the mother right to life too. The Eighth Amendment in 1983.

    Yes, it comes down to the professional judgement of doctors because surely you don’t expect legislation to detail medical factors and scenarios.

    And before you launch into a speech about “not letter some doctor decide for me” may I point out that in NZ we do let doctors – with virtually NO oversight – make decisions on abortion, and almost all aspects of complicated medical conditions.

    With regard to ectopic pregnancy and partial miscarriage. My wife is a Catholic doctor and it wouldn’t take her very long to work out what to do is these cases – remove the unborn child i.e. abort. So, unless the doctors in Ireland are retardard, then your points are indeed red-herrings.

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  43. salt (133 comments) says:

    Metcalph, saying “well we won’t carry them out here unless we’re satisfied that you’re dying, but you can go to England and get an abortion” is hardly “de facto abortion on demand”.

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  44. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ questions

    If you can stomach ending the life of an unborn child that has a heart-beat at 7 weeks, has brain-waves at 8 weeks, and has fingerprints at 9 weeks, then you’re a stauncher man than me.

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  45. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    Metcalph, saying “well we won’t carry them out here unless we’re satisfied that you’re dying, but you can go to England and get an abortion” is hardly “de facto abortion on demand”.

    In terms of the 1983 ban, it is.

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  46. salt (133 comments) says:

    EWS: it might not take your wife very long; but it clearly took these doctors too long, and a woman is dead. One mistake versus hundreds of correct calls might, dispassionately, seem an acceptable rate, but for that one woman and her family it’s a tragedy.

    I work in the health sector bureaucracy and as a result, I know just how often clinicians’ judgment calls go the wrong way. As you say, sometimes leaving your life in the hands of clinicians is inevitable; but enshrining a requirement that I leave my fate in someone else’s hands when I don’t actually *have* to seems a bit barbaric.

    As a thought exercise in whether clinical judgment should reign supreme, what would be your position on doctors forcibly performing an abortion on a woman who was probably going to die from her pregnancy, but chose not to have an abortion?

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  47. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    EWS

    I thought you were going to the beach??

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  48. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    As a thought exercise in whether clinical judgment should reign supreme, what would be your position on doctors forcibly performing an abortion on a woman who was probably going to die from her pregnancy, but chose not to have an abortion?

    In NZ Law, they would be committing a criminal offence unless they had a court order on the grounds of mental incapacity and the like. If the woman was of sound mind and adult responsibility, there’s little they can do. But that’s a red herring since a termination was asked for in the Savita case and was permissible under Irish Law.

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  49. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    correction:

    I thought you were going to the beach dude??

    Better

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  50. salt (133 comments) says:

    Metcalph, it isn’t. That’s a ridiculous argument.

    In terms of the constitutional arrangements: the ban doesn’t explicitly allow abortion when the mother’s life is in danger – it simply states that the two lives are to be held in equal respect. The Supreme court decision means that in theory, abortions to save the life of the mother (including when she is believably threatening suicide) are legal; but the legislature has not passed laws properly enshrining, or adequately clarifying this. The law still states that the two lives are to be held equal.

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  51. salt (133 comments) says:

    Metcalph: Re the thought exercise, I wasn’t asking what the legal situation in New Zealand was. I was asking what your position on the matter would be, given that you think the choice of whether and when to have an abortion is one best left to medical professionals.

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  52. Chuck Bird (4,880 comments) says:

    salt, who if anyone besides a woman should have a say if an abortion should be allowed in your opinion?

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  53. ChardonnayGuy (1,206 comments) says:

    Not the church and not the state IMHO. It should be a private and confidential matter between the woman and her doctor. The bully pulpit has no place in that decision whatsoever.

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  54. salt (133 comments) says:

    Chuck bird: I know where you are going with that. Mothers get more say than fathers because it is the mother who is facing physical risk and physical hardship, and it is almost always mothers who are left holding the baby. As soon as babies can be grown outside the womb, then we can reexamine men’s say in whether an abortion can or cannot proceed.

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  55. annie (539 comments) says:

    Barbaric AND uncivilized.

    Monique:

    Monique Watson (755) Says:
    November 25th, 2012 at 11:16 am

    FFS people! Where is your critical thinking!
    She died of septicemia. That totally fucks up your ability to clot. The last thing you need in a case of septicemia is an operation. That’s what she got. An operation as a last resort,
    Maybe if they’d done a D&C earlier she would have survived, maybe not. Sounds like her and her hubby decided that having a D&C would cure her illness given the baby was done for by then. The doctors my have seen the option as risky – you’re usually banged full of antibiotics with septicemia.

    This argument is uninformed bull and you know it. For it to be correct, she would have had to be in the terminal stages of septicaemia for days. Early on she appears to have been well and fit for anaesthesia; in any case a D&C is a simple, minimally invasive procedure that would in no way have worsened her condition. She would have had to be only a few hours from death from septicaemia for her clotting to be impaired and a D&C not to be indicated for that reason.

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  56. Chuck Bird (4,880 comments) says:

    salt, I was not actually thinking of the issue you raised. The are some who argue that a woman should be able to have a late term abortion no questions asked. There is also the issue in China and other placed where the decision to abort is related to the sex of the fetus. The resultant sex unbalance affects all of society.

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  57. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    In terms of the constitutional arrangements: the ban doesn’t explicitly allow abortion when the mother’s life is in danger – it simply states that the two lives are to be held in equal respect.

    This is the eighth amendment:

    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.

    The practicable subclause clearly refers to the mother’s life in danger exception as there’s little else it could refer to. Abortion is regulated in the 1861 offences against the person act which only prohibits unlawful abortions, with the implication that there are circumstances in which abortion is medically required.

    The Supreme court decision means that in theory, abortions to save the life of the mother (including when she is believably threatening suicide) are legal; but the legislature has not passed laws properly enshrining, or adequately clarifying this. T

    The Dail has not passed the law clarifying this because the grounds that the supreme court used (simply threatening oneself was enough to get an abortion) was facially retarded. They did pass two further amendments which allowed freedom of movement and freedom to seek information from another country to the 1983 ban.

    the law still states that the two lives are to be held equal.

    And even then it allows for terminations when the mother’s life was in danger and the doctors should have been well aware of that fact.

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  58. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    Metcalph: Re the thought exercise, I wasn’t asking what the legal situation in New Zealand was. I was asking what your position on the matter would be, given that you think the choice of whether and when to have an abortion is one best left to medical professionals.

    I never said it was best left to the medical professionals. I said that the circumstance in which a mother’s life was physically in danger did not have to be defined by the legislature but the medical professionals could work it out. It’s what they are trained for. If your argument is that the Dail should expand the grounds for abortions in ireland, that’s got nothing to do with the Savita case.

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  59. salt (133 comments) says:

    CB: Oh ok, my bad.

    China’s problems don’t stem from their abortion laws, and changing the abortion laws alone would have little effect on the gender imbalance. Cultures have been killing their girl children for centuries; whether you do it in the womb or in infancy doesn’t seem to make much difference.

    Late-term abortions are a tricky area. I don’t know that my opinions on them are relevant to this thread, but certainly where there is a credible threat to the life of the mother, I think the mother should have the right to a) full and frank information on what options are available and what these would mean for her and the baby; and b) the final say in which of these options is taken.

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  60. Chuck Bird (4,880 comments) says:

    salt, I basically agree with you on your second point the key point being credible threat. If a women is 8 months pregnant and finds her husband has been cheating says I do not want his child if don’t get an abortion I will kill myself that should not be grounds. I am against the call for the total liberalising of abortion law so we have abortion on demand at at any stage.

    In regards China the limiting of the number of children made the situation much worse as does modern test for sex. Many people would opt for an early abortion but would not go as far as infanticide if the baby was a girl.

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  61. ChardonnayGuy (1,206 comments) says:

    Decriminalise abortion altogether and save money on expensive and unworkable prohibitionist regulators, in New Zealand at least.

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  62. salt (133 comments) says:

    Metcalph: we seem to be arguing past one another. Let me see if I can say explain my point differently.

    I know that Irish doctors can, and presumably do, perform terminations where the mother would otherwise die. Clearly many of them make good calls on this, otherwise we would have seen more deaths (though bear in mind that probably more than a few women have had to “seek a second opinion” before being provided a necessary abortion). But my point is, the doctors in the case at hand were also following the law – they just misjudged where the line was between “her life isn’t literally in danger, so we can wait” and “we need to do this now or she’ll die”. This despite the fact that the patient and her partner had asked that the procedure be performed in a timely fashion.

    Just to reiterate, I am sure that the doctors knew full well that abortions can be performed where the mother’s life is in danger. But they misjudged how much danger she was in; the patient and her family had no right to ask that the already-inevitable procedure be provided *before* she got life-threateningly ill; and the patient subsequently died. A law that allows this to happen is a law that needs to be looked at again.

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  63. salt (133 comments) says:

    Chuck Bird: well in the scenario you outline, I feel bloody sorry for the kid either way. Its parents both sound awful.

    I don’t think a woman who has knowingly been pregnant for eight (or more realistically, six or seven) months should have a legal right to termination purely for non-health-related reasons. [After about six months, terminating a pregnancy basically involves giving birth anyway; at eight months, the baby would almost certainly survive (I was born at about that stage and, other than being a feminist hag, I turned out OK).] The odds of a woman deciding, on a whim, to abort a child that she has carried within her for six or seven months, and which she will have to more or less give birth to anyway, are quite slim. Nevertheless, there are some pretty messed up people out there, and that is why we have laws.

    Re: China – as you identify, it is the limits on how many children you can have which is the problem, combined with a cultural preference for sons. Sure, the advent of in utero sex testing and access to abortions has probably magnified the problem, but it isn’t actually the problem. Point taken that infanticide requires a greater degree of callousness than abortion; but at the same time, it is remarkable how callous people can be. Especially if you consider one flavour of baby to be an intrinsically less valuable flavour.

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  64. BlairM (2,339 comments) says:

    Well I am appalled that this woman died in the circumstances she did, but equally appalled at the vultures trying to turn this into a debate about abortion. It seems pretty clear that Irish law would have allowed a termination in this instance, and that makes this story one of doctor incompetence and warped morality. It’s disgusting to try and insinuate that this is some sort of wider problem with Christian morality just because some doctor made a bad call.

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  65. salt (133 comments) says:

    Well Blair, so far we’ve only been discussing current Irish abortion laws and whether, given the events that have occurred, these are fit for purpose. There hasn’t actually been much debate of Christian morality at all. However, if you’d like to have such a debate, I’m always up for it.

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  66. ChardonnayGuy (1,206 comments) says:

    A woman died, Blair. She died because of brutal, misogynist legislative prohibition.

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