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We Face This Land September 16, 2016

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Abortion, Irish Politics.

The Mother, Baby and Abortion Related Political Ephemera May 19, 2016

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Abortion, Irish Politics.
1 comment so far

One of the side effects of having the Political Ephemera site and collection is regular contacts from students looking for material, examples of something or simply asking questions about a certain Election or Referendum. One recent one was to do with the image of the Mother and Baby in Abortion related material. It got me thinking about how the Mother wasn’t initially a central part of the Debate……..

Prior to the 1983 Referendum, there was huge pressure from Pro-Life groups to have a Referendum. Here for example is a question about abortion from a 1981 Fianna Fail canvassers guide. Not a word about the Mother ..
A simplistic motion from the 1981 Fine Gael Ard Fheis (which was like many political events of the time picketed by Pro Life campaigners with hand made signs), again showing the less than sophisticated level of debate around the issue at the time….
Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 12.02.18
A picture from a rally prior to the 1983 Abortion Referendum …note the collection boxes in the picture too.
When the 1983 Referendum took place the Mother wasn’t mentioned at all, certainly in Political leaflets and posters that I saw at the time. Indeed here’s a letter comparing support for Abortion to support for the IRA.

The Referendum was focused mainly on the baby and foetus.Little or nothing about the Mother. Like the below sticker.
That said , The No Campaign saw it as a far wider issue as this “Men Can’t Get Pregnant, Let Women Decide” poster shows.

Indeed during the 1983 debate and beyond I heard many people wondering why ‘girls’ didn’t just give the baby up for Adoption.
It was really only the X-Case that led to the Mother being part of the Abortion debate.For the first time the health of a pregnant Mother entered the debate. The only Pro Choice leaflet I have from that with a picture of a Mother and Child is one from Democratic Left. Given the Referendum was on Information, The Right to Travel and Abortion, It’s a Mother and her teenage daughter rather than an image of a mother and baby or a a pregnant mother.


A proposed new crime July 1, 2015

Posted by Tomboktu in Abortion, Crazed nonsense..., Ethics.

Should using the term ‘incompatible with life’ be a criminal offence?

Deputy Mattie McGrath has moved a Bill to make it one, albeit only for certain people in certain contexts.

His Disability (Amendment) Bill 2015 [PDF] proposes to add the following to the law of the land (here, ‘Executive’ means the HSE)

It shall be an offence for Medical staff or employees of the Executive in the performance of their functions to describe an unborn child with a diagnosed disability through the use of the term ‘incompatible with life’; staff who use this term shall be subject to a possible judgment of poor professional performance as outlined under sections 57(1), 93 and 94 of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.

The first stage of the Bill was unopposed when McGrath moved the first stage last month. McGrath said:

Like many phrases that may have once been prevalent in our society, such as “illegitimate” or “retard”, the phrase “incompatible with life” must be eliminated from our public discourse when describing unborn children with severe life limiting medical conditions or disabilities.

The vehicle he proposes to use to make this part of the law of the State is the Disability Act 2005, and an offence under that Act carries a fine of up to €3,000 or a jail term of up to 12 months or both.

He also declared that

We have no interest in criminalising health care professionals. I cannot stress this point sufficiently. We are not seeking to impose penalties or to use coercive means.

If he is honest in that, he is incompetent as a parliamentarian, because introducing a law to make something an ‘offence’ is precisely making it a crime and making criminals of those who engage in it. Furthermore, his proposed law will apply to two overlapping groups of people, one of which is health care professionals, the group he then says he has no interest in criminalising.

I do not know the details of Dáil procedures when a private members’ bill like this one is being moved at first stage, so I do not know the significance of Deputy Joe Carey (Fine Gael, Clare) answering ‘No’ when the Ceann Comhairle concluded the ‘debate’ on the first stage by asking the formula for the procedure ‘Is the Bill opposed?’.

Abortion opinion polling Vs the ballot since 1983 August 24, 2014

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Abortion, opinion poll.

Just a quick comparison on the polls I could find

1983 – Eighth Amendment


Irish Times – Yes 55% / No 45%
Irish Times – Yes 69% / No 31%
Independent – Yes 44% / No 24%
Independent – Yes % 46% / No 31%
S. Independent – Yes 46% / No 24%

Actual Result 67% Yes / No 33%

1992 – “substantive issue”


Irish Times – Yes 48% / No 30%
Independent – Yes 48% / No 38%
Independent – Yes 48% / No 38%

Actual result Yes 35% / No 65%

2002 –


Irish Times – Yes 39% / No34%
Irish Times – Yes 35% / No 31%

Actual Result – 49.6% Yes / 50.4% No


HIQA Report let government off hook. November 14, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Abortion, Bioethics, Culture, Irish Politics.
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A very welcome post by Brendan Young, member of Action on X. As Brendan notes “‘Action on X’, which campaigned for legislation based upon the ‘X Case’ – but regards James Reilly’s recent abortion law as unacceptably restrictive. Action on X has the support of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, SIPTU, UNITE the Union, the ICTU Women’s Committee, USI, and the African women’s support network AkiDwa.”

Recent comments by Dr Sam Coulter Smith (Master of the Rotunda maternity hospital) about the strains the hospital is under, and the findings in the recent HIQA Report (into the death of Savita Halappanavar) that our maternity hospital records are not systematically centralised and monitored, highlight the deep problems in the Irish health service. But the HIQA Report, while it revealed problems with the medical care given to Savita Halappanavar, avoided the issue of the law. And there is a risk that the Galway University Hospital medical team, who may have made errors, will be scapegoated for Savita’s death. Yet it is Irish law, including Art. 40.3.3 of the Constitution and the recently-passed Reilly Act on abortion, that continues to pose risks to women – including those going through inevitable miscarriage.

Doctor Peter Boylan hit the nail on the head in saying that the state, through HIQA, did not ask the obvious question in relation to the death of Savita Halappanavar. What impact did the law on terminations have on the actions of the Galway medical team? Would an earlier delivery – a termination of pregnancy – have saved her life? In his opinion it probably would have. HIQA didn’t ask. Why not?

Last year’s HSE Report into Savita’s death raised the legal issues. It said ‘concerns about the law … impacted on clinical professional judgement’. It quoted the consultant obstetrician as saying “If there is a threat to the mothers’ life you can terminate. If there is a potential major hazard to the mothers’ life the law is not clear…. There are no guidelines for inevitable miscarriages.” The same consultant also said: “Under Irish law, if there’s no evidence of risk to the life of the mother, our hands are tied so long as there’s a fetal heart (sic).”

The HSE Report’s Recommendation 4b makes clear that the law restricts clinical decisions, and suggests change: “… We recommend that the clinical professional community, health and social care regulators, and the Oireachtas consider the law including any necessary constitutional change and related administrative, legal and clinical guidelines in relation to the management of inevitable miscarriage… These guidelines should include good practice guidelines in relation to expediting delivery for clinical reasons. We recognise that such guidelines must be consistent with applicable law and that the guidance so urged may require legal change.”

It is also clear that the consultant obstetrician considered a termination when Savita asked for it but felt legally bound to rule it out because there was a fetal heartbeat – even though the demise of the fetus was inevitable. Yet the HIQA Report poses the issue exclusively as management of sepsis – making no suggestion that ‘expediting delivery’ could have been done to avert infection / sepsis in its list of 13 ‘missed opportunities’ to intervene.

Flowing from its enquiries, HIQA’s Recommendation N10 says: “The HSE should develop a national clinical guideline on the management of sepsis… This guideline should incorporate an escalation/referral pathway that includes clinical, legal and ethical guidance for staff at critical clinical points …”

HIQA’s ‘escalation/referral pathway’, by definition, assumes the woman’s health is deteriorating due to sepsis. Recommending ‘… legal and ethical guidance for staff at critical clinical points’ is to accept that a woman must reach a critical condition before termination can be considered – the only issue where the law becomes relevant. Why would a woman, her loved ones or her doctors wish to allow sepsis to develop to such a potentially lethal extent? Yet termination of pregnancy to prevent infection is not considered in HIQA’s Recommendations. The HSE Report is commended in passing, but its key arguments to legislators are glossed over.

By placing the blame for Savita’s death on the consultant obstetrician’s failure to manage sepsis and ignoring the legal restrictions upon her clinical choices, the HIQA Report is letting Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin off the hook. They can all comfortably point to the need for better management of hospitals and / or more resources – all of which are needed. 

The consultant obstetrician may have made errors, but she should not be made the scapegoat for Savita’s death. A fundamental problem in dealing with inevitable miscarriage is that Art. 40.3.3 of the Constitution, and its interpretation by the Supreme Court, effectively preclude termination of pregnancy during miscarriage if there is a fetal heartbeat – until a woman’s life is at risk. This legal restriction on clinical action contributed to Savita’s death and politicians have a responsibility to deal with it.

If the HIQA Report is used to inform the medical guidelines accompanying James Reilly’s abortion law, its focus on management of sepsis will entrench a perverse situation where medical conditions due to pregnancy that are not in themselves life-threatening (eg inevitable miscarriage) must be allowed become life-threatening before it is legal to perform a termination of pregnancy – on a fetus that will die anyway. The same legal restriction that allowed sepsis to develop in Savita Halappanavar will remain.

James Reilly’s abortion law, based upon Art. 40.3.3, codifies this restriction by giving legal protection to the ‘unborn’ from the moment of implantation in the womb until delivery. Such restriction on doctors, which HIQA did not examine, must be removed so that women’s lives can be protected. At minimum, the HSE Recommendations must be acted upon. Both Art. 40.3.3 and Reilly’s abortion law must be repealed.

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