Last night on Al Jazeera’s ‘The Stream’, presented by Malika Bilal and Femi Oke, the subject of abortion was debated by Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran, Doctors for Choice representative Dr Mary Favier, Seána Stafford of the Pro Life Campaign and Sarah McCarthy of Galway Pro-Choice.
We pick it up at the 11 minute mark.
Malika Bilal: “So what resources are there?”
Dr Mary Favier: “The resources are very limited and you’ve got to remember that for a woman who is faced with a crisis pregnancy and they want to end the pregnancy. Remember this woman was viciously raped. She didn’t just want to end the pregnancy, she wanted to not have a baby in these circumstances, with all types of cultural implications in her community for being an unmarried parent. I mean there are very significant issues here. In an Irish context there is no solution to that. This law is flawed because it doesn’t protect rape victims, it doesn’t protect those who are survivors of incest, those who have fatal foetal abnormalities and we thought it might protect those at suicide risk and it has failed this woman. Because I’d ask the bishop…”
Bishop Kevin Doran: [Talks over] “Does the baby not have any rights?”
Favier: “Just a second, Bishop. I’d ask the bishop, what would he suggest have been done? Should she have been tied down? Tied up? She already had court orders to act to hydrate her. What was his plan for 15 more weeks?”
Femi Oke: “Dr Favier, allow the bishop to answer and also Seána, I can see you wanting to jump in there as well so I’ll get to you in just a moment. Go ahead, Bishop.”
Doran: “Yeah, I think the answer to that question is that she should have been provided with proper psychiatric care from the moment she presented. Unfortunately, it seems her first contacts were with a private family planning agency which is a commercial operation and which is not set out to provide psychiatric care but only to provide a response to crisis pregnancy in terms of referring people on perhaps for abortion. But in my understanding the problem is she wasn’t provided with proper psychiatric care and I have to say that one of the challenges..”
Favier: “I feel it is the State who failed her rather than any individual institution.”
Doran: “She didn’t present to the State until she was nearly 20 weeks pregnant.”
Favier: “This woman didn’t necessarily have psychiatric problems. There is very good evidence to show that it’s only when women are denied access to abortion that their mental health deteriorates…”
Doran: “Nonsense I’m afraid.”
Favier: “…and this woman is an obvious example. She became suicidal because she was denied the opportunity to have her pregnancy terminated.”
Doran: “That’s absolute nonsense.”
Favier: “It was accepted that she should go to the UK because for your worldwide listeners you might think there is no abortion provided in Ireland. But there’s up to 4,000 every year in the UK and at least another 1,000 who are thought to have abortion online through medication pills. So Ireland does have abortion we just don’t have it in this country. And if you’re well-educated, middle class, affluent and can afford the €1,000 to get there, we sweep it under the carpet and say it doesn’t happen. But for women with disability who have no money, who are in this case have no right to travel in terms of documents. They’re the women who fall victim and foul of the State. And the State and its institutions like the Health Service Executive need to take responsibility. They failed this woman ever before she had mental health problems.”
Oke: “Alright, Dr Mary Favier take a breath for a moment because again, I personally find it upsetting that we’re unpacking one particular young woman teenager’s case. But we’re talking about an actual law.”
Previously: Staying In Tonight?