Tag Archives: Fatal foetal abnormality

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Dáil members voting on Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace’s bill, to allow for terminations in Ireland in the case of a fatal foetal abnormality, and how TDs voted

Henry McDonald, in The Guardian, reports:

Dr Lara Kelly is one of the first members of the Irish medical profession to speak publicly about travelling to the UK for an abortion. The 35-year-old GP said her decision to speak out was motivated by the blocking of a bill in the Irish parliament earlier this month that would have allowed for abortions in Irish hospitals in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.

…At Liverpool airport, Kelly and her husband decided to carry the remains on to the plane, rather than have them placed in the hold, in case the luggage went missing. Passing through security brought on further trauma, she said.

We were queuing at security for ages and I wasn’t feeling physically great after the procedure the day before,” she said. “When we got to the top we said to the security guy that we had to declare foetal remains. The guy said, ‘What?’ He didn’t seem to understand and so we said it out loud again. He didn’t know what foetal remains meant so Mark said, ‘It’s a baby in the box’, and the man said out loud, ‘A baby in the box?’ Half the queue heard that, probably some of those who were getting on our flight to Dublin heard that.”

On her way back to Dublin, Kelly approached a member of staff at Liverpool airport to ask for advice about travelling with foetal remains. “The girl was Irish as it happened and she said something astonishing to me. ‘It’s fine,’ she said. ‘You need to go over to the gentleman at customs and declare the remains at security. It’s fine, I did it a few weeks ago.’ That’s what she said to me. It was said with such normality because she had done it herself.”

‘My baby in a box’: Irish GP tells of trauma of travelling to UK for abortion (Henry McDonald, The Guardian)

Previously: 45-95

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Arlette Lyons, Fiona Walsh, Ruth Bowie, Sarah McGuinness, Julie O Donnell, Agatha Corcoran, Deirdre Conroy and Gaye Edwards, all from the group Terminations For Medical Reasons outside the Dáil in 2013 

Further to the defeat of Independent 4 Change TD Mick Wallace’s bill to allow for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities…

Gaye Edwards, who lost her first child, Joshua, to anencephaly, writes:

I like to think that our collective input influenced the recommendations that so many UN member states made when Ireland’s human rights record came under review in May 2016. Together, they called on Ireland to change its highly restrictive abortion laws. Working with Amnesty has also given weight to our assertion that we are not criminals, and that by denying us treatment in our own country, Ireland is violating our human rights.

I feel that sharing my experience has helped to spark a public discourse in Ireland which was previously absent. The Irish people are getting a better understanding of how the 8th Amendment to the Constitution (which puts the right to life of the foetus on equal footing with that of the woman), affects not only people in circumstances like mine, but in other circumstances too. It is no longer a simple black and white argument, but a rich and nuanced discussion, full of the complexity of real-life situations.

The majority of Irish people are caring and compassionate, and don’t want suffering to continue. This needs to be reflected in our laws. I have realised from my interactions with Amnesty that these views are shared by people all over the world. Witnessing their support for me has been both humbling and uplifting.

In my own experience, some older, more conservative relatives had expressed sympathy and support for my husband and me as we tried to navigate our own tragedy. Yet they never discussed the injustice of it with anyone else as the subject of abortion has always been considered taboo. Now, however, they share our story freely, and are proud of our quest for justice.

So, what next? Well I think the short answer is “more of the same!” We will continue to tell our stories in order to help educate people generally about the nature of fatal foetal anomalies.

We will continue to tell our stories to help women who have suffered losses in secret, realise that they did nothing wrong – that they are not criminals, and they are not alone.

We will continue all this until we have a legal and social environment that respects women’s choices and no longer punishes tragedy.

Partnering with Amnesty helped us globalize our campaign to change Ireland’s abortion laws (Gaye Edwards, Amnesty International)

Previously: On Message

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From top: RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke and Fine Gael Minister for Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney

This morning.

RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke interviewed Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney on his show Today with Seán O’Rourke.

They discussed the resignation of Joe O’Toole, from his position as chair of the Water Commission following his comments that people should pay their water charges; Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace’s bill on Fatal Foetal Abnormality; and housing.

During the interview, Mr O’Rourke appeared to be particularly riled by the promises made by Independent Alliance TDs Shane Ross, Finian McGrath and John Halligan that they will not vote with the Government and, instead, support Mr Wallace’s bill this week.

He described the three TDs’ actions as driving “a coach and four through the traditionally understood interpretation of the Constitution that’s there in black and white.”

From the discussion…

Seán O’Rourke:Why didn’t you, as minister, say, ‘Joe, you overstepped the bounds of sensitive commentary here, you have to go’ instead of just hiding behind Fianna Fáil or looking over your shoulder at them?”

Simon Coveney: “I’m not hiding behind anything. I’m just telling you the truth. So, like, I’m not putting any political spin on this, Seán.”

O’Rourke: “Yeah but you seem to be suggesting that it would have been OK by you if he stayed.”

Coveney:Yeah. Well I mean I asked Joe to do this job. I think he would have done a very good job. He’s very experienced politically. I think he did make a mistake in terms of being overly forthright in terms of his own views but he was asking, or he was answering questions that he was asked. What he wanted to do was get his own personal views out of the way early and then get on with being an independent and open-minded chair. Which I think he could have done.”

O’Rourke: “Do you know at this stage..”

Coveney: “I’m not going to start putting a spin on this, that I demanded he go or anything. I explained the position…”

O’Rourke: “But maybe you should have…”

Coveney: “Well, I mean, you can decide whatever you want but…”

O’Rourke: “But I’m asking you…”

Coveney: “I asked Joe to do a job. I think he would have done a good job. I was willing to support him through the comments that he’s made in the last number of days because I can understand the context around that. But others weren’t. And the important, this isn’t like a lot of other political decisions that I have to make as a minister. The Water Commission has to have the confidence, in particular of the two big parties that actually put it together in the Confidence and Supply agreement. And, also, I think, I hope it needs to have the support of other parties as well. Some of them would have been campaigning against water charges, who would at least have an open mind to the outcome of that commission report. And you know there was a lot of criticism of Joe because of the comments that he made. But I mean ultimately, you know, if I didn’t have the support of the other major party, that put this proposal together, with Fine Gael, well there was going to be a problem and I’m just being upfront about that, that’s what happened.”

O’Rourke: “So here we are, we have a situation where it’s Fianna Fail rather than you, as the minister responsible for his departure, you also have a situation where, we don’t need to go through it all, where you have partners in Government who refuse to abide by the principle of Cabinet collective responsibility, as outlined in the Constitution or they have refused as well, to accept the advice of the Attorney General. I just have a question for you about the viability and the strength of this Government. I mean, and I’ll put it in maritime terms because I know they’re ones you’re very familiar with, as somebody who is a seaman, but how would you feel about going around the Mizen in a Ford Seat with Shane Ross and company in your crew?”

Coveney: “Look, first of all, can I say that anybody who thinks that politics in Ireland should be politics as normal, as if the Government had a majority which a Government would normally have, doesn’t understand the new realities of politics. We are in a minority government, we’re trying to give leadership in that environment. Sometimes we have to negotiate with Fianna Fail as a main opposition party in areas where we have a Confidence and Supply agreement like on water for example. There are many other areas where we have no agreement with Fianna Fáil. And Fine Gael and our partners in Government will put policy together and we will debate it and implement it and…”

O’Rourke: “And that’s all perfectly understandable but what sure as hell is not politics as normal is where Cabinet ministers can drive a coach and four…

Talk over each other

O’Rourke:Where Cabinet ministers can drive a coach and four through the traditionally understood interpretation of the Constitution that’s there in black and white.”

Coveney: “Yeah and this is not something that should happen often in Government. I mean what we have is…”

O’Rourke:Often? It should never happen, surely.”

Coveney: “Seán, could you let me answer the question. What’s happened here is arguably the most sensitive political issue, which is around abortion, termination of pregnancy in areas or in circumstances where we have a tragic diagnosis of Fatal Foetal Abnormality. And where we have two independent opposition TDs bringing forward a bill that in our view, in Government, is unconstitutional, on the advice of the Attorney General and that is why Fine Gael’s position on this is absolutely clear. We have an agreed Government approach to trying to resolve this issue through a Citizens’ Assembly that will make recommendations that Fine Gael has agreed to have a free vote on at the end of that process, to try and bring a more permanent and real solution to this problem. In my view, what Mick Wallace is doing here is proposing a piece of legislation that will have no effect whatsoever in terms of outcome should it be introduced because it is unconstitutional and therefore won’t work. We have a Chief Medical Officer, to the Government and to the Department of Health, saying that this bill will not work and so, what Fine Gael wants to do is actually address this issue in all of its complexity and have an outcome that can help women who are in crisis. Unfortunately, what’s happened here is there’s a difference of opinion in Government…”

O’Rourke: “Yes but…”

Coveney: “The Independent Alliance, most of their members have already voted for this legislation when it was previously brought before the Dáil a number of months ago…”

O’Rourke: “And that’s all been well rehearsed, that’s well understood minister but essentially what the position here now seems to be, because it is such a sensitive issue, those ministers and members of your partners in Government, be they Cabinet or just beneath Cabinet level, are being told, ‘ok, because it’s so sensitive, you can do that on this occasion’ but they’ve been given a stern warning as to future behaviour but sure nobody will take that seriously.”

Coveney: “Well I think they will take it seriously because if we’re going to have a coherent government, you do need to take collective Cabinet responsibility seriously. And it’s important that the Government sticks together. And I think, you know, with what the Taoiseach said this week and I support him very strongly, you know, in a minority situation, in particular in a minority situation, a Government needs to stick together, you need to have collegiality and a Government needs to take a collective approach but there are circumstances and we have them this week, on an issue like Fatal Foetal Abnormality, and a piece of legislation relating to it where the independents feel that they want the freedom to be able to vote according to their conscience, is what they would say…”

O’Rourke: “Have you got assurances from them…”

Talk over each other

Coveney: “When the work of the Citziens’ Assembly is done and when those recommendations are made to the Oireachtas and when we are voting on those recommendations, at some later point, which won’t be the far distant future, Fine Gael will also have no whip in that situation because people will be allowed to vote according to their conscience…”

O’Rourke: “Right, but just before we move on…”

Coveney: “The difference here is that there is an expectation being built up that, actually, this bill can solve problems for women and, in our view, it can’t which is why we’re voting against it and we’re going to have a process underway that can deal with this in a more comprehensive and more sensible way.”

O’Rourke:Have you, and has the Taoiseach more importantly, got an assurance from Shane Ross that the principle of Cabinet collective responsibility, or collective Cabinet responsibility, will be adhered to into the future after this one-off exception?

Coveney: “Well I think there’s an understanding that this a one-off exception. I don’t think we’re going to have a repeat of this very often. And I think there’s an understanding across the Cabinet…”

O’Rourke:A one-off that won’t be repeated very often doesn’t sound like a very reassuring kind of understanding.”

Coveney: “Well I’m just, I’m just telling you that any, there’s nothing in writing here but I think the Taoiseach made it very clear, the responsibilities that members of Government have…”

O’Rourke: “Yeah, it shouldn’t actually need to be in writing.”

Coveney: “…that is protected by the Constitution and it’s our job as a Government to actually act in a way that’s consistent with the Constitution so, you know, what’s happening this week is not going to be a regular occurrence, I can assure you.”

Listen back to the interview in full here

Previously: ‘If This Is Let Slide, It Will Be Very Serious For The Attorney General’

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Independents 4 Change TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly

Further to Health Minister Simon Harris’ claim that a bill proposed by Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace – which would allow for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and is identical to a bill previously proposed by TD Clare Daly – is unconstitutional

For years, we have heard a litany of Government ministers and TDs offer sympathy to the couples involved, wring their hands, and agree that “something” must be done. But they have done nothing. Doing nothing is simply not an option anymore.

Roughly two diagnoses of fatal foetal abnormality are made in Holles Street alone each week. The Liverpool Women’s Hospital sees between two and four Irish women every week, with a five-week waiting list. Each week’s delay is subjecting more and more people to cruel and inhumane treatment.

When the bill was moved last year, the Government relied on the advice of the Attorney General, which suggested that it was unconstitutional as a result of the Eighth Amendment. They are again seeking her opinion this time round.

I want to see that opinion published. It cannot be used as a fig leaf to cover the inaction of politicians.

The truth is that all it is is an opinion. Actual unconstitutionality can only be determined by the courts. So why not allow the bill to pass, get the President under Article 26 to refer it to the Supreme Court?

The Constitution allows 60 days to have the matter determined. If they agree it is compatible with the Constitution, then we can — at least in these circumstances — end the inhumane treatment of Irish women.

If they find it is not constitutional, then we will only be in the situation that we are in now.

Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace writing in today’s Irish Examiner.

We can, and we must, stop subjecting parents to this cruelty (Mick Wallace, Irish Examiner)

Related: Mick Wallace: Courts should decide fate of abortion bill (Daniel McConnell, Irish Examiner)

Previously: What’s Your Advice?

Was It Really Unconstitutional?

Pic: Rollingnews

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Ellen Coyne, in the Ireland edition of The Times, writes:

A mother of two who was pregnant with a baby suffering from a fatal foetal abnormality claims that she was advised to travel to Britain to undergo the first part of a termination before travelling home and faking a miscarriage.

Sarah, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said she was told to travel to a British hospital to have an injection that would stop her baby’s heart, before returning to Ireland and saying that she believed that she had miscarried.

However, her consultant allegedly declined to confirm that Sarah would be cared for on her return home when contacted by British doctors.

Sarah described her experience as “horrific” and said that she was forced to travel to Britain twice before finally having a termination at almost 24 weeks. She ended up having to smuggle her son’s body home in the back of her car and then became seriously ill with sepsis.

When I came back to Ireland I was to present myself at [the hospital] with lack of movement. I was not supposed to tell them what I had done. I had to play out this drama; what’s our story? What’s the lie I have to keep up?” Sarah said.

“They were going to scan me, they were going to tell me that they were very sorry, that the baby had passed away. I was not to let on that I had had a feticide injection, and then I was supposed to be induced and deliver.”

“…Three consultant obstetricians have separately confirmed to The Times that they were aware of other Irish hospitals telling women they can go to England for the first half of a termination.”

One said that consultants who told women about the practice could face legal action if they were seen to be taking part in the second half of an illegal abortion.”

Woman in fatal foetal abnormality case speaks out about ‘horrific experience’ (The Times)

Sarah’s story (The Times)

Sarah’s story:activists demand change to law (The Times)

Willingness to travel for termination proves law is failing (Ellen Coyne, The Times, opinion)

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Independent TD Clare Daly’s bill providing for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality is being debated in the Dáil.

From the debate…

Previously: ‘The Role Of The State Is To Ease The Burden Of People, Not To Add To It’

Watch live here UPDATE: