Treatment for women should be on their terms
We write to support the hundreds of women a year who experience fatal fetal abnormalities in their pregnancy. We write also to express our respect for the support group Terminations For Medical Reasons (TFMR) and their efforts to secure wider access to abortion services in Ireland. The case of Amanda Mellet, who was refused access to an abortion in Ireland for a fatal fetal abnormality, and the hundreds of women who share that experience every year, is a cause of frustration and shame for the medical profession in Ireland, that we are powerless to assist a woman undergoing “cruel and inhuman treatment” in the Irish Health Service, according to the United Nations, because of restrictive laws which lack popular support and are without a medical evidence base.
It is repeatedly stated by anti-choice commentators that the term ‘Fatal Fetal Abnormality’ is not a medical term. Many of the terms used in the debate on access to abortion, such as ‘Unborn Child’, are not medical terms. However, in the case of ‘Fatal Fetal Abnormality’, the 2010 Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists report, Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Abnormality, repeatedly uses the adjectives ‘fatal’ and ‘lethal’ with regard to Fetal Abnormality. It is therefore not accurate to insist that ‘Fatal Fetal Abnormality’ is not a medical term as this language is clearly used by medical professionals with expertise in this precise area of medical practice. This attempt to undermine the medical legitimacy of what is already a heartbreaking experience is causing hurt and distress and should stop.
The distinction between fatal and non-fatal conditions is often certainly a matter of medical opinion as is generally the case for medical predictions. However, some conditions, such as Anencephaly, are described in the report as ‘obviously fatal’ by the College while in general they advocate a case-by-case approach for judgements on Fetal Abnormality and the decision to terminate a pregnancy.
Doctors For Choice continues to support the view that the only person it is safe to have the final decision, on whether or not to terminate a pregnancy with an abortion, is the woman who is pregnant. A pedantic or legalistic approach to terminology in this debate is not helpful in our view and abortion services should be properly dealt with like any other health service and follow the same ethical and legal requirements. We know of no medical requirement for special laws to regulate abortion and feel special, restrictive laws have only led to the cruel and inhuman treatment of women that we have seen so far.
It is time to repeal the eighth amendment by putting it to a referendum and, then, to repeal all special, restrictive laws to allow regulation of abortion be part of the regulation of all other health services and, in general, to trust women to be able to decide what is in their best interests in their particular circumstances.
Fear-mongering Farage is cowardly
It was with bemusement and resentment that I learned about the sudden abdication of Nigel Farage from the leadership of UKIP (for the 3rd time). Farage attributed his departure to a successful leave vote, his political career being spent on ‘getting Britain out of the EU”. Mission Accomplished according to Nigel. Or rather, mission half accomplished.
The real reason for Farage’s departure is the same as Boris Johnson and David Cameron. There never was a plan to guide post-EU Britain to ‘freedom’. It was a con, padded with hyperbole, deceit and fearmongering.
Farage was the chief xenophobia-generating bigot, who along with Boris ripped apart Britain’s last vestige of decency. They are responsible for the rise in racist and xenophobic abuse which had rapidly increased across Britain. They are responsible for the grim future that awaits Britain’s youth outside of the EU.
Farage, Johnson, Cameron and Gove are the men who took Britain to the point of no return. They should stay and face the consequences.
John Halligan accepted office as a Minister of State as part of the Irish governmental system. In so doing he accepted the responsibilities of an officer of the state to comply with the constitution of Ireland. Now he says his ideology is so strong that he simply does not care if proposed legislation on the termination of the lives of babies is unconstitutional so he will vote for it irrespective. Such action is not just irresponsible for a legislator but it is nothing short of very serious dereliction of duty. If his ideology is so strong and opposed to stated government policy, why does he not resign his office?
He has demonstrated his real values as a legislator, but that illustrates the vulnerability of the government that is dependent on support from him and comrades like Deputies McGrath and Ross. History shows that Deputy Ross is not a collegiate operator as Government Ministers are supposed to be. His support for draft legislation that the Attorney General deems to be un-constitutional, and the Chief Medical Officer deems to be inoperable, shows how unfit for office he is.
Should we be surprised at the current rating of Independents in the latest opinion poll? Perhaps, the electorate is getting wise to what solo runners independent deputies really are. They do not understand collaboration with others.
Article 28 must be put to the people
The decision of those members of the Independent Alliance with ministerial office to vote for the abortion bill has far graver and more far-reaching implications that the Constitutional integrity of the abortion bill.
Article 28.4.2 declares that the Government shall meet and act as a collective authority and shall be collectively responsible for the Departments of State administered by the Government. There is no provision in the Constitution for the Taoiseach to grant a personal derogation to an individual minister from this Constitutional imperative, which is a fundamental obligation of each minister, not an a-la-carte convention that can be altered when political expediency dictates.
If Minister Ross wishes to vote against the Government on the abortion bill perhaps the wisest and most principled course for him is to promptly resign from the Government in the first instance so that he can follow his conscience.
Any revision of Article 28 with respect to collective responsibility could then be put to the people in a referendum to ascertain whether they approve of a change in the Constitution with respect to Government collective responsibility and thus relieve the Taoiseach from assuming a responsibility for which he has no direct mandate.
The ins and outs of political landscape
A State of chassis. David wanted IN and now he’s OUT. Jeremy C wanted OUT and now he’s IN (big trouble). Boris wanted David OUT but really wanted IN, now he’s OUT and IN big trouble. Gove wanted Boris OUT and now he’s OUT himself. Farage wanted to be IN the lead and now he’s got his way he’s OUT. Scotland’s Sturgeon wanted it IN and now it’s heading OUT. Enda wanted her IN and now she’s told Enda get OUT. Gerry wanted IN and he’s still OUT looking IN. Joe wanted Water Charges OUT and now he say’s they’re IN. Saint Michael’s party is both OUT and IN, and Michael N says all this OUT was withIN his expectations. We live in perplexing times.
Charity thieves are worse than robbers
On July 3rd Judge McNulty jailed a 39- year-old woman in Bandon for 90 days for stealing food. She had 59 previous convictions, so was not a very successful law breaker. While not attempting to justify such criminal activity sentences like this imposed on disadvantaged members of our society are in marked contrast with how our legal system deals with, or fails to deal with, much more serious crimes committed by so-called white collar criminals. Of particular concern are crimes, or alleged crimes, committed by executives with responsibility for charitable or altruistic organisations. The recent scandals involving charities are just the tip of the rip-off iceberg and go back historically to include Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake and PMPA. It also includes the privatisation of many of our mutual companies particularly building societies and cooperatives. The process is an invidious one, very often not covered, or inadequately regulated, by any of our regulatory or legal systems. whereby an organisation set up to provide altruistic services on a charitable or public interest basis, takes on paid employees as its grows. A cohort of these employees, including some of its founders, seize control of the organisation, and promote themselves to positions that enable them to legally, and sometimes illegally, rip-off the organisations and the public or taxpayers who are providing their funding..
We need to invent special terminology to describe the much more serious evil-doers who rip-off charities.