The State’s position on the rights in the kind of situation before Savita Halappanava’s death November 17, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Bunreacht na hÉireann, Ethics, Feminism, Health, Human Rights, Ireland, Medical Issues.
Here is what the government says is the official procedure to be followed in the kind of situation that preceeded Savita Halappanava’s death, as explained by the Government to the European Court of Human Rights in 2009, and summarised by that Court in September 2010. [I have added the emphasis. Here they are dicussing the case of “C”.]
189. As regards the third applicant specifically, the Government made the following submissions.
In the first place, they maintained in response to a question from the Court, that the procedure for obtaining a lawful abortion in Ireland was clear. The decision was made, like any other major medical matter, by a patient in consultation with her doctor. On the rare occasion there was a possibility of a risk to the life of a woman, there was “a very clear and bright line rule provided by Irish law which is neither difficult to understand or to apply because it is the same law that has been applied under Section 58 of the 1861 Act, under Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution and under the legislative provisions of every country which permits a pregnancy to be terminated on that ground”. As to the precise procedures to be followed by a pregnant woman and her doctor where an issue arose as to such a possible risk, it was the responsibility of the doctor and a termination could occur when the risk was real and substantial. If the patient did not agree with that advice, she was free to seek another medical opinion and, in the last resort, she could make an emergency application to the High Court (as outlined above). The grounds for lawful abortion in Ireland were well known and applied. Referring to the Medical Council Guidelines, the CPA Guidelines and the evidence of practitioners to the Committee on the Constitution, the Government considered it clear that, while there were issues regarding the characterisation of medical treatment essential to protect the life of the mother, medical intervention occurred when a mother’s life was threatened, the refusal of treatment on grounds of moral disapproval was prohibited and a patient was entitled to a second opinion. While the Irish Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists had no published guidelines concerning a pregnant woman presenting with life threatening conditions, that Institute would be in agreement with the Guidelines of the United Kingdom Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists concerning the management of ectopic pregnancies and it was probable that Irish gynaecologists would “by and large” follow the latter Guidelines with or without minor amendments or additions. This clear process of how a decision to terminate a pregnancy was taken in Ireland by the patient in consultation with the doctor was regularly followed in the case of ectopic pregnancies./blockquote>
[You may wish to know that Ireland was found by the European Court of Human Rights to have breached the human rights of “C”.]
The 90-page PDF is available here.