More on after X… November 19, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Reading some of the options that are lined up in the Sunday Business Post in the wake of the death of Savita Halappanavar that it suggests are being examined by Fine Gael it’s hard not to feel enormously depressed. Here are the four options…
Four legal options are outlined in the expert group’s report, it is understood, including a non-legislative option to further strengthen and clarify Medical Council guidelines without a new legal framework.
The report also looks at what new medical procedures could be put in place as part of whatever new legal framework is adopted. Options in this area, outlined in the 70-page report, include pre-selecting hospitals that can carry out abortions in limited circumstances. These hospitals would be approved by the health minister.
Another option put forward by the expert group is to have two senior doctors sign off on an abortion. In cases where the woman claims to be suicidal, the group suggested that a psychiatrist could be brought in to carry out an assessment. Pregnant women denied an abortion would be entitled to appeal. The contents of the report are to be brought to cabinet on Tuesday, November 27.
In terms of the legal options, the route favoured by Fine Gael would involve attaching secondary legislation – including the new guidelines – to an existing act, and legal advisers have identified the Medical Practitioners Act 2007 as the most extensive primary legislation suitable for abortion regulation. This could be done by the issuing of a statutory instrument by a minister.
Let’s put aside for a moment calls to widen the scope of possible provision of abortion – though it is interesting to consider if and how that might be achieved given the dispensation in the Dáil and general public opinion. Though that said the clear contradictions intrinsic in the most recent events as regards the rhetoric of anti-abortion formations and the reality of what actually takes place is, one presumes, educative for many.
But those options, for legislating or perhaps more accurately responding to the implications of X and Savita’s Halappanavar’s death, are minimal, are they not? And in that minimalism they continue the approach of successive governments over the past twenty years of playing it safe (from their perspective, whatever about the wider ramifications).
Most noxious has to be the ‘two senior doctors’ signing off on an abortion. But the very fact of a process in place where appeals could be made demonstrates that away from the certainties of the anti-abortion discourse just how contingent all this actually is.
And note the following:
The expert group did not examine options in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, nor did its terms of reference cover how the state might provide better clarity to doctors dealing with cases such as that highlighted by the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar.
So that being the case then the statements last week in the Dáil about how it was essential to wait for ‘clarity’ from the report were, to put it at its mildest, incorrect. And note how that ‘clarity’ is now being sought from the following:
Three Dublin maternity hospitals – the Coombe Hospital, the National Maternity Hospital Holles Street and the Rotunda – said last week that legislation was needed to provide guidance to doctors working in ‘grey areas’ when there was a possibility, as opposed to a certainty, that a woman’s life was at risk.