Ireland keeps restrictions that make abortion only legal when it is an emergency abortion but makes changes in order to “clarify” when an emergency abortion may be performed. The new protection of life during pregnancy bill does not necessarily change the law it really only makes it more specific. The law is meant to clearly say when an emergency abortion may be performed. An abortion may be performed legally in Ireland when the:
a)that procedure is carried out by a registered medical practitioner at an appropriate location, and
(b) two medical practitioners, have, in accordance with this head, jointly certified in good faith that –
(i) there is a real and substantial risk of loss of the pregnant woman’s life other than by way of self-destruction, and
(ii) in their reasonable opinion this risk can be averted only by that medical procedure.
Now I have not read the bill in its entirety but I do not like what I have read. As you can see above you must have two medical practitioners in order to receive an emergency abortion. This causes inaccessibility even in cases when a women’s life is in danger. Not only would it be difficult to find two doctors willing to perform an abortion there are also restrictions on what kind of doctor you can have. One of the doctors must be an obstetrician/gynaecologist who is registered with the Specialist Division. Also the doctors cannot be the women’s own general practitioner because they must be consulted by the other two doctors. This is could cause a women to be unable to find doctors willing to give her an abortion and therefore cause her to die.
Even after the death of Savita Halappanavar the laws have not changed to help women. For those of you who did not hear about Halappanavar here is her story in little detail. She was a 31 year old dentist in Galway Ireland who went to a University hospital complaining of pain. She was having a miscarriage but the doctors could not help her because the fetus still had a heartbeat. They told her and her husband that they were a Catholic country and therefore could not abort her dying fetus. Halappanavar and her husband are not Irish or Catholic, yet they had to follow the Catholic laws against abortion. Halappanavar and her fetus died as a result of the lack of treatment at a hospital.
There has been much public outcry and protest after Halappanavar’s death yet this new bill does not address this. The new bill, as far as I have read, does not allow for the termination of pregnancy in Halappanava’s case. I am avidly pro-choice as you know from reading this blog and therefore believe that there should be no restrictions at all when it comes to abortion, birth control and reproductive right. I understand that Ireland is a Catholic country and therefore religion is influential in cases like this, but when it comes to cases like Halappanava religion needs to realise that the women’s life is important. Halappanava could have lived. If she was in England, Canada, Switzerland, even in most US States she would have survived.
Bills should not be changed to clarify existing restrictions they should be changed to remove restrictions and help women. Women have a right to life, and a right to their own physical and emotional safety that is being ignored in this bill.