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More on after X… November 19, 2012

Posted 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.


1. doctorfive - November 19, 2012

“we have to be careful not to bring too much clarity” – Billy Kelleher last night.


WorldbyStorm - November 19, 2012

You could not make it up.


2. smiffy - November 19, 2012

You can be sure of one thing. If they do go with the ‘pre-selected hospitals’ option, at least – going by the Minister’s record – one of them will be based in North County Dublin.


BB - November 19, 2012

The catholic church still retains a powerful role in the hospitals. It will resist. I wouldn’t be surprised if the the ‘pre-selected hospitals’ happen to be private clinics instead. Abortion provision for the well-off inevitably follows.

A state agency providing free access to pregnancy termination procedures should be demanded. Separation of church and state is also desperately needed.


3. Mark P - November 20, 2012

Joe Higgins is putting forward a proposed amendment to Sinn Fein’s motion calling on the government to legislate for X. His amendment would add sections calling for immediate instructions from the HSE to hospitals, for wider abortion rights than would be available under X and, ultimately for a woman’s right to choose.


It will, of course, be voted down overwhelmingly. But it’s worth doing, because the issue should not and cannot be confined to legislating for X, something which would be a step forward but wholly inadequate.

It will be interesting to see how many TDs vote for it. I suspect no more than eight, possibly less.



patfrank80 - November 20, 2012

His opportunism knows no bounds!Higgins and the SP have spent the last few days trying to ensure Clare Daly doesn’t re submit the bill she moved in June which would give effect to the X case. I’m also a little surprised at JH amendment because it is not possible to have ‘wider abortion rights’ under X as the entire pro choice movement knows except the SP it seems . It needs the repeal of the 8th amendment whihc he surprisingly doesn’t call for!


Mark P - November 20, 2012

It’s always a pleasure to read paranoid nonsense from a drive by troll. Your first claim is frankly nuts. Your second one is simply wrong, as the motion does in fact mention the “constitutional change that would be needed”.


smiffy - November 20, 2012

If you were serious about putting pressure on TDs who style themselves pro-choice, you’d leave out the second last bullet point, but include the final one.

As it is, the call for the drafting of legislation leaves open the – entirely legitimate – objection that such a move is pointless as no legislation beyond X is possible in the absence of a constitutional amendment.


Mark P - November 20, 2012

It’s not about putting pressure on TDs who style themselves pro-choice. It’s about making sure that the debate is not limited to the issue of legislation for X, which is entirely inadequate.


smiffy - November 20, 2012

Fair enough. I think the final bullet is sufficient, though. Talk about legislation, in the absence of talk of constitutional change, is a bit disingenuous, though.

In any case, Wendy makes a very valid point.


smiffy - November 20, 2012

Apologies. Read it again after you pointed it out. Didn’t see the constitutional change requirement the first time.


Wendy Lyon - November 20, 2012

I don’t think it will be voted on at all. Typically the government’s amendment is taken first, and when that inevitably succeeds, any other amendment automatically falls.


4. Mark P - November 20, 2012

I think I just got sick a little in my mouth while Kathleen Lynch TD condescended to the Dail about letting “wiser heads prevail” and about how “some people perhaps haven’t been involved in this issue as long” as she has.


5. Mark P - November 20, 2012

And now Prime Time attempts to raise my blood pressure to unhealthy levels by giving that nutcase from Youth Defence both the first word and longest amount of time to present her views.

It’s actually sort of interesting that the real lifer crazies are getting so much play in the media at the moment. I suspect it’s partly because all of our pro-life mainstream politicians are in hiding and don’t want to have to discuss the issue, particularly when they are going to have to do so in the shadow of Savita Halappanavar’s death.


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