Tag Archives: Abortion

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Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, pictured arriving at Leinster House in July

Foreign affairs minister Charlie Flanagan spoke to Seán O’Rourke this morning and, at one point, they discussed the abortion story. Specifically, they talked about how the HSE are currently carrying out a review of the care given to the young woman.

Seán O’Rourke: “What about the possibility that what emerges from the report may suggest to you and colleagues that the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act be revisited in some way?”

Charlie Flanagan: “Well there is a suggestion that the act isn’t working. However, I think before we can be conclusive on that, or before we can form an opinion on that, we need to be appraised fully of the facts and the circumstances. There is, built into the legislation, and you know, we’re not going to revisit the lengthy hearings, the submissions and the engagement that ultimately formed the act about this time last year. I think it’s important that the review mechanism, under the act, be allowed take place. If the current case means bringing that forward a few months, then so bet it. There doesn’t appear to be an appetite for a further referendum. However, it’s important that Government does address the issue in the context of the facts of this, of this particularly harrowing case so early into the operation of the legislation.”

O’Rourke: “What would you say to the suggestion, and it’s put forward increasingly by your partners, in Government, in the Labour Party, that 31 years on from the original amendment, the article 40.3.3 that was inserted into the constitution, that that should now, in the round, be examined with a view perhaps to putting the issue before the people again.”

Flanagan: “Yeah, well, I think it’s important that we look at, we’d say the Fine Gael position, my party position. And before the last election we made three essential and important points. Firstly, we said that we wouldn’t legislate for abortion in Ireland and we didn’t. Secondly, we said… ”

O’Rourke: “That’s disputed, but we’ll let that go.”

Flanagan: “We had to address, it was incumbent upon us to address the issue of the European Court of Human Rights’ judgement in the A, B, C case and that was addressed, in the form of legislation. And, thirdly, we promised that we women in pregnancy would receive an appropriate level of medical treatment that was necessary. That is inbuilt in the legislation and it’s important in the context of this case that you now mentioned, that there is adequate follow through on that and that we satisfy ourselves that there was an appropriate level of medical treatment and attention available to that person.”

Previously: At The Mercy Of The State

Listen back here


90098985Professor William Binchy (top) and Justice Adrian Hardiman (above)


From March 1992, a piece written by Adrian Hardiman SC (Supreme Court Judge since 2000) in the Sunday Independent on the X case and Pro Life Campaign legal advisor William Binchy.

Anti-abortion extremists are demanding a further referendum to turn the clock back in a drastic way. Their position is both obscurantist and less than honest.

The first thing to be said about this group is that their legal thinking is demonstrably unreliable. They were warned in 1983 that the wording of the amendment was, in the words of the then Attorney General, “ambiguous and unsatisfactory”. They insisted that it was perfect. They now wish to change it again.

They were expressly warned, by this writer amongst others, that the amendment could be used to prevent women from travelling. They scoffed at the idea or pretended to do so, and called it scaremongering. This is precisely what happened and (without the amended protocol) what could happen again.

In recent weeks this group has loudly proclaimed that it does not wish to interfere with the right to travel. If this is true, it is a death-bed conversion. It was not apparently their view a few months ago when the original protocol was negotiated.

Worse still there is ample evidence that this group positively envisaged the use of penal sanctions, including imprisonment, against Irish women who had abortions abroad. In 1981 Professor-elect William Binchy wrote the first article I am aware of suggesting a referendum on abortion. If passed, he foresaw that injunctions could be granted to restrain a pregnant woman from travelling abroad for an abortion.

He continued “. . . if the consequences of defying an injunction were made absolutely clear to the defendant, this might (have some effect. These consequences are indeed awesome. The defendant would be in contempt of court — for which commital to prison is the penalty: moreover an action for damages would also lie for ‘destruction of the child’s constitutional right to life: One must be realistic here. A woman threatened with such sanctions (could well decide to stay in England after her abortion rather than come back to prison in Ireland’ (emphasis added). (Binchy: Ethical issues in Reproductive Medicine: A legal perspective”) published by Gill and Macmillan 1982.

In the same article the Professor-elect declared that-the “simple legal solution” might be to make it a criminal offence to have an abortion anywhere in the world.

He said “for our legislation now to provide that it should be illegal to have an abortion abroad would therefore not be changing what since 1861 has been the intended effect of our abortion law: on the contrary it would do no more than restore the position in light of legislative developments elsewhere over which we have no control”.

He continued by asking whom precisely the law would cover. Answering his own question he said, “Obviously it should not extend, for, example, to an English woman residing in England who had a perfectly legal abortion there. If she came to Ireland for a visit some time later, she should scarcely be hauled off to Mountjoy for what she had done.

“It would seem that the law should be limited to persons with a close connection with Ireland at the time of the commission of the offence. Such persons could include those who are habitually resident here or, more restrictively. Irish nationals who are habitually resident here.”

Via Oireachtas Retort

Previously: And So It Came To Pass

Not So Fast

Just William

“Our Values Are Considerably More Subtle Than You Might Think.”

Senior Moment

He Hasn’t Changed A Day

Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland


The woman refused an abortion has spoken with The irish Times about her experience.

Over the following weeks, she says, she had a number of meetings at the IFPA [Irish Family Planning Association] and though the process seemed to be in train she was told some weeks later that the estimated cost of travelling to England, having the abortion and possible overnight accommodation could be over €1,500. An individual in the IFPA, she says, told her the State would not fund the costs

“I said we’re getting too far, and she said, no, in England they carry out abortions up to 28 weeks . . . She said ‘that is not the problem. The problem is the money’.

“The next day, around 10am, I was taken in a taxi to another hospital . . . When we got there I thought they were going to help me. They brought me to a room where they did a scan and the pregnancy was 24 weeks and one day . . .They said they could not do an abortion. I said, ‘You can leave me now to die. I don’t want to live in this world anymore’.”

…On Monday night two doctors came, a psychiatrist and a gynaecologist, and said, ‘We are going to carry out the abortion next Monday but you have to be strong. You have to eat. You have to drink.’ I started to eat and I drank.”

She says she was told a few days later that the plan had changed.

“They said the pregnancy was too far. It was going to have to be a Caesarean section . . . They said wherever you go in the world, the United States, anywhere, at this point it has to be a Caesarean.

She says that a number of days later, two medics told her the authorities had been made aware of her situation and she would need a solicitor….

They said they could not do an abortion. I said, ‘You can leave me now to die. I don’t want to live in this world anymore’ (Kitty Holland, Ruadhán Mac Cormaic, Irish Times)

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Camille Hamet and Séréna Robin write:

We are two young French film makers working on a documentary about Irish women traveling to England to have an abortion. It will be broadcast on French public TV Public Sénat in December.
We just arrived in Dublin and plan to stay in Ireland for two months. We are already in touch with the IFPA [Irish Famile Planning Association], the ASN, Doctors for Choice and Senator Ivana Bacik, among others. But we are currently looking for Irish women that would agree on sharing their own personal experience of abortion. Our main challenge is to find a woman that would agree to let us follow her while she is in the process of seeking an abortion in England. Anonymity will be contractually guaranteed but we don’t even know how to reach them to discuss it. Therefore, we were wondering if it was possible to mention our project on Broadsheet. It would be very helpful. If anyone would like to help us  regarding this please don’t hesitate to contact us.at taketheboat.themovie@gmail.com.
Here is a link to the project. You can also check its Facebook page and its Twitter account.

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DUP MLA for South Down Jim Wells receives feedback from the electorate as he attempts to prevent private clinics performing abortions in NI.

A staunch flegger and pro-lifer, what’s not to like?

Here’s Jim getting hysterical on a visit to Dundalk in 1986 as his colleague Peter Robinson was appearing in court for his part in a disturbance in Clontibret, Co. Monaghan.

Calm down, dear.

Good times.

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Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste Joan Burton a number of topical questions on the final sitting of the Dáil before the summer recess (July 17) in light of the UN HRC hearings in Geneva.

The Labour Party leader firmly ruled out any hope of new legislation for victims of rape and incest and those seeking terminations for medical reasons (TFMR).

Deputy Catherine Murphy:
“This week’s damning review of our human rights practices by the United Nations Human Rights Committee makes for grim reading but it is hardly surprising. Our failure in regard to the Magdalen laundries survivors, the symphysiotomy survivors, those who spent time in mother and baby homes and those who were victims of clerical child abuse is shameful. However, we stand to repeat the mistakes of the past if we do not act to address the grossly discriminatory laws that govern abortion. The UN committee confirmed that we are in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by denying women the option to avail of abortion in certain circumstances, namely, rape, incest, fatal foetal abnormalities and where a woman’s health is in danger. I would argue that we are not only in breach of the covenant but also in breach of basic humanity in denying an abortion to a woman who has been raped, is a victim of incest or has to endure carrying to full term a pregnancy when there is no prospect of delivering a live baby. I found it profoundly chilling to listen to the remarks of the principal officer of the Department of Health who told the committee that denying these women the right to abortion was the will of the people. I question what people are meant. The eighth amendment to the Constitution was inserted more than 30 years ago and attitudes have changed significantly since then, as recent polls have shown.

The Labour Party is a socially progressive party. The Tánaiste is the leader of that party as well as the deputy leader of this country, and she is also one of the few women in a decision-making role in this Government. Is she going to use her powerful position to bring about change in this area and, if so, how is she going to do that?”

Tánaiste: “In regard to the issues arising around fatal foetal abnormalities, the Deputy will be aware that some time ago the Government legislated successfully in regard to the X case. That is reflected in our legislation and is an issue that both parties in Government have addressed. In regard to fatal foetal abnormalities, I am on record as stating that I would like to see a situation where it is possible to address them. As of yet we do not have agreement on that in the programme for Government. It is a personal position and I have been on public record in this regard over a long period.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: “I know we have legacy issues and it is very uncomfortable to consider past failures in hindsight. We are asking how we allowed such things to happen and who was in power at the time, but will the pattern be repeated by people in power now, and will we have the same conversations in 30 years?”

Deputy John Halligan: “Exactly.”

Deputy Catherine Murphy: “The same committee might then be reviewing how the country dealt with issues like fatal foetal abnormalities, for example, or people who have been raped or subject to incest and who have been denied their human rights. The Tánaiste indicated her personal views are on the record but I ask her as Tánaiste – deputy leader of the country – and the leader of the Labour Party for her position on the issue.

I went to Liverpool Women’s Hospital with people who were part of a study group on fatal foetal abnormalities. People were put through a tortuous process where, for example, they would have had to retrieve the remains of a baby they wanted by way of something like DHL delivery, which is absolutely appalling. It is inhumane and we cannot rely on a 31 year old referendum decision, presuming that people have not moved on when so many events have taken place in this country. We need a referendum, as the Tánaiste knows, if we are to change that position. Does the Tánaiste accept we need a referendum and will she commit to working towards such a referendum?”

Tánaiste: “There has been an extensive process with the Constitutional Convention, which considered various issues and reported findings. As I pointed out, the Government and the Dáil has dealt with issues arising from the X case. Those had been unresolved over a very long period of years. We want a position in Ireland where every baby is a wanted baby. The Deputy spoke about cases and the people she accompanied in Liverpool, and those are tragic circumstances as the babies are wanted but their life outcomes were in doubt because of medical issues.

It was referenced in Geneva that on a previous occasion, the Irish people gave a view – as was their entitlement – on what they wanted reflected in the Constitution. I did not share the view at the time and my party and others like me recommended voting against the amendment to the Constitution. As a democrat, the Deputy must recognise that the people voted for the eighth amendment to the Constitution. The Government has legislated for and dealt with issues surrounding the X case, which has been a difficult issue in this country over a very long period. That is what was agreed in the programme for Government.

Deputy John Halligan: “So the Tánaiste will not agree to a new referendum.”

Leaders’ Questions July 17 2014

Previously: Violation Once Again

Without Consent

What The Man From The UN Said


RTÉ journalist Dyane Connor spoke to Rachel English on Morning Ireland earlier, to discuss the case of the woman whose baby was born by Caesarean section after a panel of experts turned down her request for an abortion.

Neither journalist mentioned that the woman was raped.

Rachel English: “We’re joined by RTE reporter, Dyane Connor. I suppose I should say as well, Dyane, that there are legal restrictions on what we can say about the woman at the centre of this case but what can you tell us about her.”

Dyane Connor: “Yes, there is a court order in place, so she cannot be identified at all, to protect her identity. We do know that she was in her second trimester when she was admitted to hospital, requesting an abortion. Now, as it required under the new legislation which came into effect at the beginning of this year, she was assessed by a panel of three medical experts – two psychiatrists and an obstetrician. I understand it was decided that she did have suicidal thoughts but it was decided not to carry out an abortion, instead to terminate the pregnancy by a Caesarean section. Now when the woman was told of this, she was very upset and she began a hunger and thirst strike. At this point, the HSE went to the high court to get an order, to allow it to hydrate her, because, for a woman to undergo a Caesarean section, I understand, it’s very dangerous if she is dehydrated. Now a further court date was set, subsequently to this, the woman I understand did agree to allow a Caesarean section to be carried out and this was performed when she was either 24th going on her 25th week of pregnancy, the baby was delivered.”

English: “Now this practice if we go back for a moment, this practice, the assessment by a medical panel. This was introduced under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, so what happens? How does this work?”

Connor: “Well, once the legislation is called upon, the woman is seen by three medical experts, so you have to psychiatrists who are examining her mental health and then an obstetrician who obviously, in this instance, made the decision that the baby is considered viable, can survive outside the womb. Now an option that was open to the woman, when she was refused an abortion, she could have I suppose asked for a review of this decision which would have meant that a panel of ten medical practitioners are then called upon. This has to be done within, no later than three days, after the initial decision is made. Once the panel has convened to review that decision, they then must make a decision no longer than seven days. Obviously time is of the essence in this case. Now, it’s very important as well to stress that the termination of a pregnancy is the ending of a pregnancy. In the first three months, we would refer to it as an abortion. But in later stages of pregnancy, this termination of a pregnancy can be the delivering of a baby by Caesarean section if an obstetrician believes that the baby is viable.”

English: “As you mention the timeframe here, can we go back over that for a moment because there does appear to be some confusion. Now, it’s reported that the young woman here, that she first asked for an abortion when she was eight weeks’ pregnant. And, yet, some time seems to have passed before she was assessed by this panel of medical experts.”

Connor: “That’s correct. A colleague of mine, Emer Lowe, was also working on this story over the weekend and sources close to this woman say she did find out she was pregnant in her first trimester and that she asked her doctor for an abortion and she claims that she wasn’t given the options that should be open to a woman in a situation like hers. And it was impossible for her to travel abroad for an abortion in her circumstances. But it was her second trimester before she went in to hospital, looking for the abortion.”

English: “What’s known now about how the young woman is and, indeed, how the baby is?”

Connor: “I believe the woman is quite upset and traumatised and the baby was born by Caesarean section and is being cared for and treated in a hospital at the moment, where the baby will remain for the coming months. What happens then is still not clear. But I understand that at the moment, it looks like the baby will be taken into care.”

English: “Dyane, thank you very much indeed.”


Listen back here

Woman sought abortion at eight weeks (Kitty Holland, Irish Times)

Meanwhile, on the BBC..

Woman denied abortion in Republic of Ireland ‘was raped’ (BBC)

image_283635_320Sarah Ditum

Via The New Statesman:

The story reported in today’s Sunday Times is a catalogue of violation. First, a woman was raped (violation one). She sought an abortion but apparently doctors obstructed her from getting the treatment she needed (violation two); although many Irish women travel to the UK in this situation, the woman in this case could not because she was a foreign national with uncertain immigration status, and her limited English likely compounded her vulnerability.

Desperate at this stage, she expressed suicidal intent and went on hunger and fluid strike: the Health Service Executive (HSE) obtained a court order under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 for the forcible rehydration of the woman (violation three). Finally in early August, a certificate was issued allowing for a medical procedure to be carried out upon the woman: the next day, the baby was delivered by caesarian (violation four), at 24-26 weeks gestation, which is the very cusp of viability. The baby is still receiving medical care. The condition of the woman has not been reported.

…And what trauma. As an onlooker to this case, what strikes me is the constant traffic of foreign objects through this woman’s body, imposing foreign wills. The penis of the rapist who forced himself into her. The nasogastric tube stuck into her nostril and down against her resisting throat. The scalpel of the doctors who cut her open, their hands in her belly, the moving horror of another body within your restrained flesh. The unbelievable awfulness of being compelled to provide life to the child of the man who raped you. And the terrible silence of voicelessness, a woman with no tongue that would let her be heard. This is the violence the Irish state imposes on women. This is why Irish women are campaigning to “Repeal the Eighth”: because women know that we are human, and none of us should have to live under a law that says otherwise.

Violation after violation: why did Ireland force a woman on hunger strike to bear her rapist’s child? (Sarah Ditum, New Statesman)

Sarah Ditum

Earlier: Without Consent

Thanks Orla

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A woman who became pregnant as a result of rape believes the state denied her access to an abortion for months, until the foetus became viable. Earlier this month, the baby was delivered prematurely through a Caesarean section, which was authorised under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.

The young woman, a foreign national with limited English, was not able freely to travel abroad for an abortion because of her legal status in Ireland. She discovered she was expecting about eight weeks into the pregnancy, and immediately sought an abortion because she had been the victim of a traumatic rape.

Months later, the woman believed she had been effectively refused an abortion, or the ability to travel abroad for such a procedure, by the state. She then went on a hunger and liquid strike.

State ‘denied abortion’ to rape victim (Mark Tighe, Sunday Times)
(behind paywall)