Nov. 14th, 2012

hawkwing_lb: (Helen Mirren Tempest)
So there is this thing. This thing is that Ireland has legal precedent which permits abortion in cases where there is a "real and substantial" risk to a woman's life. (See Attorney General v. X.) But there is no legislation which clarifies this precedent, and no guidance for doctors, who are open to prosecution under an Offences Against the Person Act of 1861:

Whosoever shall unlawfully supply or procure any poison or other noxious thing, or any instrument or thing whatsoever, knowing that the same is intended to be unlawfully used or employed with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman, whether she be or be not with child, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor...

The punishment upon conviction under this Victorian law, for doctors found guilty, is penal servitude for three years. Women found guilty of inducing their own miscarriages are liable for penal servitude for life. I'm not familiar with the history of prosecution under this law. However, Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution has been used to deny full human rights and freedoms to women.

Today, the Irish Times carries the story of Salvita Halapannavar, a 31-year-ago dentist from India living in Galway, who died - most likely - as a result of septicaemia contracted during a miscarriage of her 17-week-foetus. Her cervix had been dilated for three days. She was in agony. Her foetus, she was told, would not survive. The consultant at Galway University Hospital said, "As long as there is a foetal heartbeat, we can't do anything."

"The doctor told us the cervix was fully dilated, amniotic fluid was leaking and unfortunately the baby wouldn’t survive.” The doctor, he says, said it should be over in a few hours. There followed three days, he says, of the foetal heartbeat being checked several times a day.

“Savita was really in agony. She was very upset, but she accepted she was losing the baby. When the consultant came on the ward rounds on Monday morning Savita asked if they could not save the baby could they induce to end the pregnancy. The consultant said, ‘As long as there is a foetal heartbeat we can’t do anything’.

“Again on Tuesday morning, the ward rounds and the same discussion. The consultant said it was the law, that this is a Catholic country. Savita [a Hindu] said: ‘I am neither Irish nor Catholic’ but they said there was nothing they could do."

Irish Times, 14 November 2012.

For twenty years, successive governments in this country have delayed and delayed and delayed introducing legislation to safeguard the lives and human dignity of women. Even after the European Court of Human Rights heard the 2009 petition of the women known as A, B, and C - and ruled that Ireland's lack of provision for legal abortion in cases of medical necessity was a failure of human rights - the present government continues to display a puling, mean, vile moral cowardice.

If the failure of medical intervention in Ms. Halapannavar's case is found to have contributed to her death - and I cannot see how it may not be found to be so - Irish governments for the last twenty years bear part of the responsibility for her death. (The other part rests with the doctor who failed of their responsibility due to a willful misunderstanding of legal precedent - or a moral cowardice that placed their career and religious faith above Ms. Halapannavar's life and health.)

(Catholic doctrine is not on this point clear today - The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services forbid the termination of a viable foetus, but say little of the termination of non-viable but still alive ones, though I suspect few doctors have actually read the things) - but historically, the life of the mother outweighs the life of the foetus, and in a church to which tradition is so important, the historical dimension should be important.)

This is a shame and a stain and a disgrace on this nation. Please write to Irish embassies and Irish parliamentary representatives: THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED. THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN AGAIN.


Nov. 14th, 2012 07:28 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Bear CM beyond limit the of their bond a)
I was just at a protest for Salvita Halappanavar. Protest. Rally. Memorial. Gathering so spontaneous that no one had liaised with the gardaí to much extent, with the result that as the crowd - which numbered over 1000, and I'd eyeball the estimated on the far side of 2000, actually - gathered, we choked off traffic in front of the Dáil, temporarily trapping at least two buses and a taxi in place until the Garda Traffic Corps got matters sorted.

(I spoke to one garda afterwards, and he said no one had said anything to him about expecting any number of people.)

Fast-off-the-block activists had arranged a microphone and speakers, but not much else: it was more of a fuzzy coalescing of national anger and shame, surprising almost everyone there with the numbers present. There was a black woman speaker, whose name I wish I'd caught, who was electrifying and said everything I wish I'd had the courage to catch the RTÉ reporter (who seemed almost too young to be out of school) and yell into the camera. This fucking government thinks we are sheep who will sit down and take this but we won't. (I want to vote for her. Or someone like her. Please be a TD?)

RTÉ news report.

(Although I think maybe someone mentioned there was a protest already arranged for today for something else? I do not know.)
hawkwing_lb: (Bear CM weep for the entire world)
Books 2012: 218-219

218. Laura E. Reeve, Pathfinder. Roc, 2010.

Space opera, satisfying to my tastes. Will talk more a post on in coming weeks.

219. Andrzej Sapkowski, The Last Wish. Gollancz, 2007. Translated from the Polish by Danusia Stok.

First published in Poland in 1993, the series begun in this novel has enjoyed global success, including two videogames, although - thanks to complicated rights issues, I believe - it is little-known in English.

Good points: the style is interesting, the translation fluid, the narrative a set of loosely-linked episodes riffing off well-known fairy or folktales, which works well.

Bad points: treatment of women. Honestly? Honestly?


hawkwing_lb: (Default)

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