http://cdn.thejournal.ie/media/2013/04/protection-of-life-during-pregnancy-bill-plp-30-04-13-10-30.pdf

 

Summary and comment, Marge Berer, Reproductive Health Matters

 

This bill manages to allow abortion if a woman’s life is at risk while at the same time protecting the life of the fetus, as required in the Irish Constitution, and at the same time, meeting the conditions laid down by the European Court to legislate clearly on matters arising from previous court cases.

 

The bill allows abortiononly if there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother”, for example arising from a physical illness. It says that it is “not necessary for medical practitioners to be of the opinion that the risk to the woman’s life is inevitable or immediate, as this approach insufficiently vindicates the pregnant woman’s right to life”. However, it repeats often that there must be a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother.

 

It also says: “In circumstances where the unborn may be potentially viable outside the womb, doctors must make all efforts to sustain its life after delivery. However, that requirement does not go so far as to oblige a medical practitioner to disregard a real and substantial risk to the life of the woman on the basis that it will result in the death of the unborn.”

 

This appears to take particular account of what happened to Savita Halappanavar, as does the name of the bill.

 

It creates separate conditions for what to do if the woman is threatening suicide, including requiring at least three medical opinions as to whether to allow an abortion on this ground.

 

It makes it clear that legal abortion will be very rare. It allows a woman to appeal a decision against her but makes it extremely difficult to do so.

 

It allows for conscientious objection by individuals but NOT by institutions, which is important, and requires anyone objecting to find another medical professional to refer the woman to.

 

The bureacracy for medical professional control of the decision to allow an abortion is prodigious and possibly even unworkable in practice if a woman’s life is at risk. It potentially requires many medical professionals to be involved to agree an abortion is legal, far more than in any other country. The numbers required to agree to an abortion in case of a threat of suicide appear to say it is hard to believe any woman would actually commit suicide and so she must be examined by many to prove it. It requires any abortion to take place in an obstetric hospital unless it is a medical emergency, which also has specific conditions attached.

 

It makes it very clear that there is no restriction on travelling to another country for an abortion where it is legal. It almost invites women to continue doing so rather than go through this process.

 

Last, and not least, it says that anyone found providing or having an illegal abortion will be subject to punishment of up to 14 years in prison. This is very serious. In my opinion, it is perhaps the worst aspect of this bill from Irish women’s point of view.

 

I believe this bill is extremely successful at doing exactly what the European Court required, to clarify the law when a pregnant woman’s life is at risk, and not a step further. For all the easy criticism we can make of every word of it, it is a gift to the politicians who must have felt (no matter what their personal views) that their political lives were not worth having this fight. They can now say “We did exactly what we were told to do by the European Court” and no more. It will be impossible to oppose it – in those terms – from any point of view. The person/people who drafted it deserve a gold star for compliance with the political necessity involved.

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REQUEST FOR SOLIDARITY

 

El Salvador: woman denied life saving medical intervention

 

From: Amnesty International, 15 April 2013

 

http://www.refworld.org/docid/5177d9574.html

 

Beatriz is a 22-year-old woman with a high risk pregnancy who is being denied access to

life saving medical treatment that she urgently needs in El Salvador. Her life is at risk and

she is suffering cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

 

Beatriz suffers from health problems that put her life at risk while she is pregnant. She has a history of lupus, a

autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the person’s own tissue. She also has other

medical conditions, including kidney disease related to the lupus, and she suffered serious complications during

her previous pregnancy. Beatriz has been diagnosed as being at high risk of pregnancy-related death if she

continues with the pregnancy. Three scans have confirmed that the foetus is anencephalic (lacking a large part of

the brain and skull). Almost all babies with anencephaly die before birth or within a few hours or days after birth.

 

Beatriz has been requesting the recommended medical intervention for over a month. Beatriz wants to live and has

requested an abortion. She is now 4 and a half months pregnant. The medical professionals have not acted in

accordance with her wishes as yet because they feel unable to terminate her pregnancy without the express

assurance from the Salvadoran government that they will not be prosecuted for administering the life saving

treatment she needs. Abortion is criminalised in all circumstances in El Salvador. Under Article No. 133 of the

Penal Code, anyone who provides, or tries to access, abortion services can face lengthy prison sentences.

 

The health professionals responsible for Beatriz’s care have requested permission from the authorities to proceed

with the treatment. As yet no response has been given. Anxiety and suffering increase for Beatriz and her family

every day as concerns for her survival grow. Beatriz has a one year old son. The physical and mental anguish she

is experiencing is contributing to her health condition.

 

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

·           Calling on the authorities to prevent any further denial of treatment and ill-treatment and order the immediate

unfettered access by Beatriz to the life saving treatment she needs, in accordance with her wishes and the

recommendations of medical staff;

·           Urging them to immediately ensure that the health professionals are enabled to provide the treatment necessary

to save Beatriz’s life without the threat, risk or fear of criminal prosecution for doing so in accordance with Beatriz’s

wishes.

·           Urging them to decriminalise abortion in all circumstances and ensure safe and legal access by women and

girls to abortion services necessary to preserve their life or health, or if they are pregnant as a result of rape.

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 27 MAY 2013 TO:

Minister of Health

Dra. María Isabel Rodríguez

Ministerio de Salud

Dirección postal: Calle Arce No.827,

San Salvador, El Salvador

Fax: +503 2221 0991

Email: mrodriguez@salud.gob.sv

Salutation: Dear Minister/Estimada

Ministra

 

President

Mauricio Funes

Presidente de la República de El

Salvador

Dirección postal: Alameda Dr. Manuel

Enrique Araujo, No. 5500,

San Salvador, El Salvador

Fax +503 2243 6860

Salutation: Dear Mr/ Estimado Sr

 

And copies to:

The Citizens Group for the

Decriminalisation of Therapeutic,

Ethical and Eugenic Abortion

Fax: +503 2226 0356 (say “tono de fax”)

Email: agrupacionporladespenalizacion@gmail.com

 

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

By Rafael Romo,  Wed July 25
  • A 16-year-old girl with leukemia hasn’t received treatment because she’s pregnant
  • Article 37 of the Dominican Republic’s constitution forbids abortion
  • Chemotherapy for the girl’s illness will likely terminate her pregnancy
  • Incident has sparked a renewed debate on abortion laws in the country

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (CNN) — In the Dominican Republic, a ban on abortion is preventing a teenage girl from receiving treatment for a life-threatening disease.

At the Semma Hospital in the captial city of Santo Domingo, a 16-year-old girl is dying of acute leukemia. Doctors say the girl, whose name is being withheld to protect her privacy, needs an aggressive chemotherapy treatment. But there’s one problem: the teenager is nine weeks pregnant and treatment would very likely terminate the pregnancy, a violation of Dominican anti-abortion laws.

Rosa Hernandez, the girl’s mother, is trying to convince doctors and the Dominican government to make an exception so that her daughter’s life can be saved. “My daughter’s life is first. I know that [abortion] is a sin and that it goes against the law … but my daughter’s health is first,” Hernandez said.

According to Article 37 of the Dominican constitution, “the right to life is inviolable from the moment of conception and until death.” Dominican courts have interpreted this as a strict mandate against abortion. Article 37, passed in 2009, also abolished the death penalty.

Turkish women rally against plans to restrict access to abortion

Miguel Montalvo, the director of the bioethics council that rules on the application of the law, says the council is leaning toward allowing the treatment. “At the end of the day the patient may decide for himself or herself. In this case, the family may decide what’s more convenient for the patient,” Montalvo said.

Women’s and human rights groups are outraged, saying the girl should have received chemotherapy immediately.

Lilliam Fondeur, a women’s rights activist, complains that conservative politics is preventing necessary treatment to save the teenager’s life.

“How can it be possible that so much time is being wasted? That the treatment hasn’t begun yet because they’re still meeting, trying to decide if she has the right to receive the treatment to save her life — that’s unacceptable,” Fondeur said.

Some Dominican opposition lawmakers say there should be a new debate over the abortion ban in the Caribbean country and the problems created by the constitutional ban go beyond this case. Opinion leaders like former representative Victor Terrero say clandestine abortions are also putting the lives of many women at risk.

“The constitution is going to have to be modified sooner rather than later,” Terrero said. “We cannot allow under any circumstances that pregnancies that present complications for women be permitted to continue as normal.”

Bautista Rojas Gomez, the Dominican minister of health, has publicly indicated he favors chemotherapy over protecting the pregnancy, but doctors are still reluctant to act for fear of prosecution.

Pelegrin Castillo, one of the architects of Article 37, says the constitutional ban does not prevent doctors from administering the treatment. It does, however, prevent them from practicing an abortion in order to treat the patient with chemotherapy.

“It’s an artificial debate,” Castillo said. “What we have clearly said is that in this case doctors are authorized by the constitution to treat the patient. They don’t have to worry about anything. They have the mandate of protecting both lives.”

And while the debate rages on around the country, back at the hospital the clock keeps ticking for the 16-year-old pregnant girl.