Draft Bill is a Step Forward but Still Fails Women.

Galway Pro-Choice welcomes the imminent passage of the “Protection of Life During Pregnancy” Bill clarifying when a woman is lawfully entitled to a termination in this country as a step forward. Nonetheless, we have serious reservations about the implications of the Draft Bill published late last night. Its ultimate failure to protect women in Ireland demonstrates the urgent need for the repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.

Women pregnant as a result of rape or incest, those with a fatal foetal abnormality diagnosis, or women whose health is being put at risk due to a pregnancy, will still be left out of this bill. The recent Irish Times Ipsos/MRBI poll showed that the overwhelming majority of Irish people support the right of women in these situations to have the choice to avail of a termination.

Galway Pro-Choice is deeply concerned with the sentence of 14 years and/or a fine for those who procure an abortion in Ireland. Rachel Donnelly of Galway Pro-Choice stated:

“The criminalisation of women who obtain an abortion in this country is utterly shameful. The sanction of 14 years imprisonment and/or a fine will serve only to punish the most vulnerable, i.e. those who are unable to travel to England to obtain a safe termination. It will likely result in women being fearful to access the medical care that they need, with potentially devastating consequences.”

We are further concerned that a psychiatric emergency is still being treated differently to a medical emergency. Sarah McCarthy of Galway Pro-Choice said:

“The rhetoric surrounding this Bill has served to trivialise suicide and is insulting to people with mental ill health. The distinction between a physical and a mental emergency is against the advice of psychiatrists given at the recent Oireachtas hearings. This draft requires two psychiatrists and an obstetrician to assess a woman’s suicide risk even when the obstetrician has no training in psychiatry. We find this unfathomable; such an attitude only serves to further stigmatise mental health issues in this country.”

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Galway Pro-Choice Submission to the Joint Committee on Health and Children.

On Wednesday May 8th Galway Pro-Choice made a submission to the Joint Committee on Health & Children concerning the Protection of Life During Pregnancy (Heads of) Bill 2013.

Galway Pro-Choice believes that the proposed legislation will not adequately protect women’s right to life and health, or to terminate a pregnancy if their life is at risk.

The draft Bill does not provide the clarity that so many had hoped for. It still leaves many important issues either vague or unaddressed.

The exclusion of any consideration in this Bill for victims of rape or incest is shameful . The X-case was that of a 14 year old girl who was pregnant as a result of rape. This legislation will leave women in similar circumstances neglected. The fact that this Bill can appear without mentioning either rape or incest is utterly incredible.

These were our main recommendations:

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Galway Pro-Choice Condemns TD Brian Walsh’s Position on X Case Legislation

 Brian Walsh’s comments in the Irish Independent today reveal a complete disregard for the health and lives of pregnant women in Ireland.

Walsh is a TD for the Galway West constituency in which Savita Halappanavar died as a result of Ireland’s restrictive laws on abortion. His refusal to vote for legislation which would protect women’s lives is offensive and a reprehensible shirking of his duties to the women in his constituency.

Órlaith Reidy of Galway Pro-Choice said:

“Galway Pro-Choice has held countless public stalls in Brian Walsh’s Galway West constituency, and we have always received an overwhelmingly positive response. Indeed just last December we delivered hundreds of petitions signed by his constituents calling for legislation on the X Case to Mr Walsh’s office. We do not accept his assertion that this stance is representative of the people of Galway West. Rather it is a cowardly attempt to hide behind the people of Galway while promoting and voting on his own personal views.”

Commenting on the death of Savita Halappanavar, Brian Walsh stated in the Irish Times that the Government could not ignore the issue of X Case legislation. He said: “there have been seven governments that have sat on their hands. The Supreme Court ruling has to be legislated for.” His rapid turn-about on this issue represents a callous and cynical attitude, and favours electioneering over protecting women’s lives.

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Galway Pro-Choice Condemns Fianna Fáil’s Anti-Women Motions.

Galway Pro-Choice condemns the passing of three motions at today’s Fianna Fail Ard Fheis which oppose suicide being included as a ground for abortion under proposed X Case legislation. In particular, we condemn the decision of the Galway East Comhairle Dáil Ceantair of Fianna Fáil to propose one of these motions which would continue to place women’s lives in danger.

Orlaith Reidy of Galway Pro Choice said:

“The motions presented to the Ard Fheis reveal a fundamental disregard for women’s health. As Dr. Peadar O’Grady of Doctors for Choice has outlined, denying women the right to choose is a key cause of suicidality among pregnant women, and maternal deaths have markedly declined in countries where abortion is available.”

Ciara Dalstra of Galway Pro-Choice stated:

“Fianna Fáil’s failure to commit itself to legislate for the X-Case without reservation, expose its attempts to portray itself as having atoned for its mistakes in government as a farce. Anyone who cares about the safety and rights of women should be unable to support the party.”

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Video of our March in Galway!

Here is a video of our march on Saturday December 1st. Thank you so much for everyone who came! This wonderful video was made by Paula Geraghty, whose other amazing videos can be found on Youtube @ ‘Trade Union TV’.

Government Have Once More Failed the Women of Ireland

Labour, Fine Gael, and Fianna Fáil Deputies have yet again displayed their hypocrisy and cowardice on the issue of abortion. Tonight in Dáil Éireann they voted against the ‘Medical Treatment (Termination of Pregnancy in Case of Risk to Life of Pregnant Women) (No 2) Bill’. It was defeated by 101 votes to 27.

The primary reasons given by Government TD’s for rejecting the Bill were that they did not have enough time to discuss it and that the Bill itself was flawed. However, these excuses are not valid.

The Government had at least two means by which they could have given the issue proper time for debate. As was pointed out by Deputies Barrett and Halligan, the Government could have either given over some of their own Dáil time to the discussion, or shortened the Christmas Holiday period.

If Clare Daly’s Bill contained imperfections, those could have been addressed at the Committee Stage. The vote on the Second Stage of a Bill is intended to determine whether Deputies agree with the principle of the Bill. Yet, almost all Government Deputies who spoke insisted that they are determined to legislate for the X Case. One must conclude that their reasons for voting the Bill down were purely political.

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s remarks in the Dáil were insensitive and an abuse of parliament.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s remarks in the Dáil today were a gross and insensitive abuse of parliament. The inappropriate nature of directly addressing Savita’s grieving husband from the Dáil chamber cannot be emphasised enough.

Praveen Halappanavar’s refusal to cooperate with the HSE inquiry is completely understandable. Like Galway Pro-Choice, he believes that only a fully independent public inquiry has the ability to objectively investigate this matter. Mr Kenny’s attempt to persuade Mr Halappanavar to cooperate with the HSE was a shameful abuse of his position.

How Mr. Kenny believes that it is acceptable to comment in the Dáil on the actions of a bereaved husband is inconceivable. Praveen feels that his wife’s death was avoidable. Acting through his solicitor is the most reasonable and sensible course of action.

Mr Kenny’s actions seem even more incredible in light of the fact that Savita’s family have received no personal apology or expression of condolences from any Government or HSE official.

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Galway Pro Choice Were Approached by Savita’s Friends

For Release 21/11/12

As was made clear by Sarah McCarthy of Galway Pro Choice on last night’s Prime Time programme on RTE, Galway Pro Choice were approached by the friends of Savita Praveen Halapannavar on 3rd November 2012. They came to us before going public with her story. Their only wish was to try to make sure that what happened to Savita would never happen to another woman again in Ireland.

After an initial phone call on 3rd November from a friend of Savita and Praveen’s, Savita’s friends sent Galway Pro Choice an email containing more details of the case. A meeting between Galway Pro Choice and approximately ten of Savita’s friends then took place, during which they explained the facts of the case as they saw them. They believed that a termination may have saved Savita’s life. They requested the assistance of Galway Pro Choice in deciding how to proceed.

Galway Pro Choice presented Savita’s friends with a number of options, including the option of not releasing the story at all. The option of releasing the story anonymously, without a name or place being mentioned, was also discussed. However, Savita’s friends and her husband Praveen felt that going fully public with the tragic story of Savita’s death was what they wanted to do in order to bring home to the public how Ireland’s abortion laws can place pregnant women in danger. A phone call between Galway Pro Choice and Savita’s husband Praveen, in India, also occurred, in which Praveen reiterated his desire to go public with the story.

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Galway Pro-Choice Press Statement 16/11/12

The country is still reeling from the news of Savita’s tragic and needless death. Demonstrations from a range of outraged groups and individuals have spontaneously taken place around the country, and across the world. The lack of swift action from the Government is a concern for many.

In Galway City, a vigil will be held for Savita on Saturday at 5.00pm, in Eyre Square.

Galway Pro-Choice believes:

We must legislate on the X Case immediately; Government statements that it will take months to get legal clarity are unacceptable. Minister Reilly has indicated that it may take weeks or months for him to bring the Expert Group Report to Cabinet. It has also been stated that the Government will not act until the investigations are completed, which are due to take at least three months. We cannot afford to wait such a length of time for action on life-saving abortion in this country. The impossible limbo that doctors are in has been illustrated by this tragedy. Legislation must be implemented immediately, or more women may die.

Minister Reilly must instigate a fully independent public inquiry now.
The presence of only one independent expert in the HSE’s investigation is intolerable. We cannot expect UCHG or the HSE to be truly objective in this situation and to reach independent conclusions. Therefore we are calling for a fully independent public inquiry, to be commissioned immediately.

The Expert Group Report should be released to the public immediately.
There is a need for full transparency with an issue as grave as this, and we call on Minister Reilly to make the report public immediately. There is no good reason not to share this information with the public.

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Enough is Enough

On the 28th of October, a woman died in this country because she was refused an abortion. She was 31 years old.

Savita Praveen first presented at University College Hospital, Galway on Sunday October 21st at 17 weeks pregnant, suffering from severe cramps. After being examined, she was told on Sunday evening that the foetus would not survive, and that no treatment could save it. The foetal heartbeat, however, was still present.At this stage, Savita’s waters had broken, which left her at serious risk of infection. On Monday 22nd October Savita was told again that the foetus would not survive. She now requested an abortion. Doctors refused to carry out the procedure. Later that evening, according to her friends, she again ‘begged’ for an abortion to be performed. Again she was refused. According to her friends, one of the reasons given for refusing her the procedure was that Ireland “is a Catholic country”.

On Tuesday 23rd October Savita developed septicaemia.

On Wednesday 24th October the foetal heartbeat could no longer be detected. Only at this stage was Savita brought to the theatre to have the foetus removed. After the procedure she was brought straight to the intensive care unit.

Her condition never improved. Four days later, on the 28thof October, tragically and needlessly, Savita died.

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