Amnesty UK on the facts about abortion in Ireland before the vote to repeal the 8th amendment (convert all verbs to the past tense):
Any woman who has an abortion in Ireland faces up to 14 years in prison. The only case in which a woman is legally allowed to terminate her pregnancy, is when her life is deemed to be in immediate danger of death. That’s it.
Women who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest would be prosecuted for terminating a pregnancy, if they are not seen to be at immediate risk of death. If her health is at risk, but her condition not deemed fatal, then having an abortion is a criminal offence.
The single-exception rule was brought in after the death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012, who asked doctors at her Galway hospital for an abortion after she began to miscarry. They refused and she died of septic shock, her death entirely preventable.
That, you see, is the “pro life” position – let an adult woman die because her doomed miscarried fetus still has a heartbeat that the doctors can detect.
Her hopes and plans, her future babies, her husband and parents – they are all as naught compared to the fetus, who won’t survive the miscarriage in any case, but by god it has a pulse so we just have to wait while the woman’s fever rises and rises and – oops, there she goes, sorry, they’re both with Jesus now.
Oh wait, she’s not a Catholic. Is it too late to convert her?
It’s not just abortions that are policed: the information and advice around abortions is heavily censored under the Regulation of Information Act.
Any material that is seen to “advocate or promote” abortion is banned. The definition of what advocating or promoting looks like is unclear.
‘I can’t think of another regulation [besides the Regulation of Information Act] that limits providing information on a medical procedure or banning referral.’
– Dr Mark Murphy, GP and member of campaign group Doctors for Choice
Healthcare workers seen to have advised a woman to seek an abortion abroad face a criminal conviction and a fine of up to €4,000. Police can get a warrant to search counselling or healthcare premises if they believe materials ‘promoting’ abortion are inside.
It’s interesting, this passionate intrusive love for the fetus, given Ireland’s historically brutal treatment of actual born living children, at least the ones who were careless enough to be born to poor or unmarried women. Nothing was too good for the notional babies, and nearly everything was too good for the real ones.
If a woman is carrying a foetus that is unlikely to survive, she must still carry that pregnancy to term under Irish law – a traumatic ordeal for both the woman and her partner, who are often already grappling with devastating loss.
“I thought ‘You can’t just leave me carrying the baby when the baby’s going to die. I can’t do it, I can’t do it. I just couldn’t comprehend. I thought I was going to pass out.”
Nicola was 19 weeks pregnant when medics told her the baby had no chance of survival – yet she had to carry the foetus to term and give birth.
What was the thinking behind that piece of sadism, do you suppose? Punish the woman for incorrect gestation?
What was legal however was to leave Ireland to get an abortion. Out of sight out of mind.
Every day, at least 10 women and girls travel from Ireland to England for an abortion. Around 4,000 make the journey to Britain or elsewhere in Europe every year. A further 1,000 women come to Britain from Northern Ireland. Their reasons for terminating their pregnancies vary, but their reason for travelling is the same – they are treated as criminals, and face 14 years in prison if they have an abortion in Ireland.
Many other women and girls are unable to travel – it is simply too expensive for many women; others cannot travel because they are refugees or asylum-seekers; the prohibitively brutal physical and mental toll of the journey dissuades others from embarking on it.
Those who do travel face trauma, stigma, humiliation and a gruelling physical experience. Many women are in serious pain when are travelling.
It’s good to know that all that will soon be obsolete.
The Government has already published the general scheme of a bill to regulate the termination of pregnancy.
In the next fortnight the cabinet will formalise this, and substantive legislation will be prepared by the autumn for introduction into the Dáil.
The Minister for Health has indicated that he wants this legislation passed before the end of the year.
The day before the vote Twitter was full of #hometovote tweets: Ireland doesn’t allow absentee voting so thousands of people made the trip.
It’s not often that scrolling through a hashtag makes me well up but #hometovote seems to have done it. Wonderful.
Ireland. Fave photo of the #hometovote army (sorry no credit) #Repealthe8th
You’re not the boss of us, bishops.