Ireland's Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013
July 11, 2013 6:12 PM   Subscribe

With a vote of 127 to 31, Ireland has passed a law allowing limited rights to abortion when the mother's life is at risk or she is at risk of suicide. Amendments to include rape and incest were defeated. Last year, almost 4,000 women travelled to the UK for abortions, including termination of more than 1,000 non-viable fetal abnormality pregnancies.

This vote brings legislation onto the books 20 years after the X Case.
posted by DarlingBri (51 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Everyone has right wing shitheads, I guess.

Man, this last couple of years, it's like as soon as the recession hit everyone decided to turn politics over to the shittiest people possible.
posted by Artw at 6:25 PM on July 11, 2013


.

The death of Savita Halappanavar was a big story here.

But even now Ireland only meets up to Northern Ireland, which is not exactly enlightened.
posted by Jehan at 6:28 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Risk of Suicide"? That sounds like a blank check.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:29 PM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Risk of Suicide"? That sounds like a blank check.

One can only hope, but it's not likely. The new Irish legislation is not as restrictive as Northern Ireland's but you're going to have to face a three-doctor panel to substantiate your claim of being suicidal. It's hardly a hall pass, and ignoring the fact those panels should never exist in the first place, they're going to become battlegrounds of anti-choice vs pro-choice stacking.

But what it will immediately do is save the lives of women like Savita Halappanavar.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:38 PM on July 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


I recently reviewed a novel to be released next month in which the protagonist and his GF make said trip to the UK for an abortion. Prior to that I had no idea that was a thing, and I was also under the apparently mistaken impression that the "life-threatening" exception was already in place. My mother, whose mother was Irish, was quite exercised about the Savita case.
posted by seemoreglass at 6:46 PM on July 11, 2013


What, no gag order preventing the doctor from raising the subject of abortion? No compulsory medically-unnecessary vaginal ultrasound? No mutually-exclusive laws which simultaneously require the doctor to have admitting privileges at a hospital while forbidding the hospital to give the doctor admitting privileges?

Compared to a growing number of US states it sounds positively enlightened.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:00 PM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


just because things are bad in the US (and i'm aware they are - i live in oklahoma), it doesn't make things enlightened in ireland. hopefully the next generation won't have to fight this fight, but we've been saying that for a long time.
posted by nadawi at 7:04 PM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Compared to a growing number of US states it sounds positively enlightened.
There are no US states where performing a termination (including providing means of medical termination) carries a sentence of fourteen years.
posted by genghis at 7:12 PM on July 11, 2013 [26 favorites]


Sorry, that was an unconstructive bit of sarcasm. To the extent that I had a point, it was something to the effect that while this law is obviously still terribly narrow, at least they didn't hamstring it with insane technicalities.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:12 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Risk of Suicide"? That sounds like a blank check.

Can't tell if serious.
posted by odinsdream at 7:13 PM on July 11, 2013


at least they didn't hamstring it with insane technicalities.

Did you miss the part about the three person panel to whom you have to prove you are, in fact, suicidal?
posted by DarlingBri at 7:17 PM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Irish constitution was written by right wing fundamentalists and it's been a long hard slog to get any rights for women. I believe you still needed two or three adult male witnesses to corroborate spousal abuse into the mid to late seventies. And married women couldn't own property until some ridiculously late date too. Hell, contraception was illegal until the 80s. Doctors would come over from France and do illegal tubal libations in underground clinics. Ireland is a fairly liberal country in many ways these days but bizarrely backwards in others.
posted by fshgrl at 7:23 PM on July 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


Why would termination of non-viable pregnancies be an issue for anybody? Forcing women to carry soon-to-be-dead bodies to term is inexplicable cruelty.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:24 PM on July 11, 2013 [23 favorites]


Everyone has right wing shitheads, I guess.

Isn't the legislation a step in the right direction? Ireland has been pretty conservative.

Compared to a growing number of US states it sounds positively enlightened.

I'm not sure why everything has to be compared to the US on MetaFilter.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:32 PM on July 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


There's something fundamentally sick about making standing on a ledge and threatening to jump the only way around your draconian abortion restriction. That's one hell of an inhuman kind of 'humanitarianism.'
posted by fifthrider at 7:35 PM on July 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think it's a little more complicated than risk of suicide = abortion, at least according to this Irish Times article (I'm not quite sure what the Irish Times' editorial slant is).

Any Irish MeFites out there care to decipher the article? Reading the Irish Times, I was pretty amazed at the quality of the writing, written it seems for a more educated audience than AP or CP Style is.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:40 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The law is backwards and inhumane, but it's a step closer to us finally joining the 20th century (never mind the 21st) and will hopefully be expanded in time once it's been in force for a while and people realise the sky hasn't fallen in.

This feels genuinely historic to me - when I was growing up in the 80's, divorce was illegal, gay sex was illegal, contraception was only available from a sympathetic doctor on prescription to married couples. These restrictions all fell in quick succession in the 90's, but abortion was different - the line in the sand, the "not an inch", the rallying point for radical conservatives.

The availability of abortion a short ferry or plane trip away in the UK for those fit to travel has acted as a "safety valve" or "Irish solution to an Irish problem" for too long and it took the death of someone who wasn't fit to travel to force the government to spell out in law the quite meagre freedoms the X case verdict was supposed to have guaranteed 20 years ago.

It's worth reading up on the X case (mentioned in the last link) by the way. It still makes me sick to think about it - that the machinery of the state would be deployed against a 14 year old girl to try and bar her from leaving the country, for the purpose of forcing her to carry her rapist's child to term.
posted by kersplunk at 7:52 PM on July 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


Wow.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:58 PM on July 11, 2013


There are no US states where performing a termination (including providing means of medical termination) carries a sentence of fourteen years.

IANAL, so piecing together the actual effect of formal legislation is not a skill that I have. But FWIW, this is the Utah code which appears to cover what under what circumstances abortion is allowed. My reading indicates that performing an abortion which violates those restrictions is a second degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years.

Again, I could have made many false steps in putting that together.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:59 PM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's a little more complicated than risk of suicide = abortion, at least according to this Irish Times article (I'm not quite sure what the Irish Times' editorial slant is).

Any Irish MeFites out there care to decipher the article?


It's the same guff familiar to Americans as the "activist judges" complaint - i.e. she feels the Supreme Court overstepped the mark on the original ruling which, as a common law country, has the force of law.

Creighton is an oddity as an elected social conservative in one of the most liberal constituencies in the state (although since we have a proportional representation system she's one of 4 representatives). It could be said the government itself is an oddity - it was basically elected as "not Fianna Fáil" after Fianna Fáil helped cause the catastrophic recession/depression of the last few years, and consists of two parties - the centre right Fine Gael (which was one of the more progressive parties under Garrett FitzGerald in the 80's, but which also has a Thatcherite slant, and whose rural deputies are as right wing as public officials come in Ireland), and the centre left Labour party, whose main support is urban middle class liberals (American sense of the word).

Furthermore, Ireland has a strong party whip system - indeed helped invent the idea under the Irish Parliamentary Party - and parties are expected to vote as a bloc - if you vote against your party you do so in the expectation that you'll be kicked out immediately - there are no Joe Liebermans in Irish politics.
posted by kersplunk at 8:10 PM on July 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can't tell if serious.

I guess "sardonic".

It's like "medical marijuana" where anyone who really wants to can get a prescription. That probably wasn't the intention, but that's the result.

I predict a skyrocketing rate of "potential suicides" in Ireland.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:24 PM on July 11, 2013


I'm not quite sure what the Irish Times' editorial slant is

As always in Ireland, it's complicated! It has Protestant roots (and still has Church of Ireland/Methodist/etc local news strangely prominent i.e. in the first few pages on certain days of the week), and has generally been *the* liberal paper during my lifetime, although sometimes its columnists don't follow that (they had Kevin Myers for a long time, who I'm sure wishes he was born an English officer in times past mowing down Zulus). More to the point, they have Breda O'Brien, who has used her column behind enemy lines as a relentless anti-abortion pulpit during the last few months while this debate has been taking place.
posted by kersplunk at 8:25 PM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


As an American, I did 't know this was A Thing until I heard the Saw Doctors song about it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zf8Wji15oio

Which, I guess, is why they made the song.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:49 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, this last couple of years, it's like as soon as the recession hit everyone decided to turn politics over to the shittiest people possible

This trend sucks and repeats itself over generations. Conservatism always seems to creep in during these times, comorbid with xenophobia, racism, sexism, etc. Or all they all part of the package?! I realize they aren't necessarily intertwined in a general sense, but they sure seem to statistically cloud over each other, to the point where I feel like everything I just said is in "duh" territory but I'm just saying it out loud to be really sure.

It sucks because the downturns are typically brought about by insanely powerful a/immoral actors to whom religion is merely a useful tool for manipulation both of the masses and in some cases as a salve to soothe any guilt they may feel. Yet the masses prefer to turn on each other, determine what "they" did wrong, where "they" is "other people not like me" where "not like me" becomes increasingly primitive, visual and tribal-tattoo-like -- "this person is obviously not like me, look!" and try to some how pay god back for their failures, kind of like ancient Aztecs sacrificing extra slaves above and beyond the usual quotas in the hopes of recovering from famine. Or is it more than "kinda?"
posted by lordaych at 8:53 PM on July 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


This trend sucks and repeats itself over generations. Conservatism always seems to creep in during these times, comorbid with xenophobia, racism, sexism, etc.

kersplunk would have a more informed perspective, but the new law is not exactly a victory for conservatives in Ireland.

I may be mistaken, Irish politics don't really seem to conform to the traditional left/right dichotomy that is common elsewhere. Fine Gael, which governs in coaltion with its junior Labour partner is, according to Wikipedia a centrist/centre-right party. The opposition Fianna Fáil is a populist progressive republican party...?

I also tend to think that it's difficult for North Americans to comprehend that there are democratic societies out there that are fundamentally conservative, or at least do not conform to the left/right dichtomy, and I'm thinking of Japan, Korea and in this case Ireland, but there are more.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:20 PM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Amendments to include rape and incest were defeated.

What's that about? Male privilege? Silence? Is it relying on the masses of women who'd rather die (in which case abortion is available), than to give birth to a father's child?
*The wider societal context was also referred to by independent TD Finian McGrath who highlighted the frequency of incest cases in Ireland and that we only hear “a sample of what is going on”.
Abusive assholes.
posted by de at 9:22 PM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, Chocolate Pickle, I'm sure all those women jumping through ridiculous and demeaning hoops in order to exercise a say over what happens in their own bodies and lives will be duly chastened by your righteous disapproval of their methods for doing so.
posted by emjaybee at 10:14 PM on July 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


Why would termination of non-viable pregnancies be an issue for anybody? Forcing women to carry soon-to-be-dead bodies to term is inexplicable cruelty.

Anti-abortion lawmaker and general shit-brained horror rejected by Cthulhu as failing to comprehend basic concepts Senator Louie Gohmert of Texas, in response to testimony about this in committee on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, basically said that you don't KNOW that there's nonviability until the birth, so why act prematurely! (citation.)

No really. This is the argument.

I went looking for this for you. I wish I drank alcohol to cleanse this obscenity from my brain. Because it is obscene. It's punishing a woman for something out of her control, punishing a family for a fluke of nature, and yet another anti-woman argument.
posted by mephron at 10:34 PM on July 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


If I'm understanding this correctly, it's still technically illegal for any Irish woman to receive an abortion (anywhere, including countries where it is legal) for any reason other than the mother's life being at risk?

But at least now it is not a criminal act for women to receive or physicians to perform an abortion to save the mother's life...which will permit the first-ever legal abortions to occur in Ireland?
posted by desuetude at 11:14 PM on July 11, 2013


I predict a skyrocketing rate of "potential suicides" in Ireland.

Given the hoops you have to jump through, I very much doubt this. Many women will still go to the UK where they don't face a panel sorting through whether they really are suicidal enough or not. This law is a step in the right direction but still far too restrictive: no abortions even if the foetus has no chance of survival, no abortions for rape victims, no trust in women to know what's right for them... And remember we're only getting this legislation because a woman died after suffering agonizing pain for a week because she was not allowed to have an abortion for a foetus she was already miscarrying. And her widower is getting hate mail over this limited and needed legislation. Think about that for a bit before you post flippantly.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:58 PM on July 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


I'm not sure why everything has to be compared to the US on MetaFilter.

Canada has actually tried out the three doctor panels that Ireland is adopting. When implemented, they proved to be really, really arbitrary. Some panels were allowing something close to abortion on demand, some were blocking medically necessary life-saving abortions. It's part of the reason our courts annihilated them in 1988. That plus the fact that forcing women to carry fetuses to term violates their constitutional "right to security of the person."

I predict a skyrocketing rate of "potential suicides" in Ireland.

I predict that some panels will acknowledge that a woman is suicidal only after she actually commits suicide.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:20 AM on July 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Why would termination of non-viable pregnancies be an issue for anybody?

Like mephron said to that mindset there is no such thing like a non-viable pregnancy. Whatever the fancy doctor says there is still a chance that god will change his mind.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 12:31 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the test for suicidality ought to be "will you hand her a loaded gun right now? Fyi if you do and she kills herself you will be guilty of murder and stripped of your licence and jailed."
posted by jacalata at 12:49 AM on July 12, 2013


Amendments to include rape and incest were defeated.

What's that about? Male privilege? Silence? Is it relying on the masses of women who'd rather die (in which case abortion is available), than to give birth to a father's child?


If the view is that abortion is the ending of a life, then the circumstances of the creation of that life don't matter. There are no exceptions to "thou shalt not kill".

Quite frankly, while I am personally completely pro-choice, I understand the motivations of people who are against abortion in all cases. They simply don't see it as a choice, any more than murder or beating puppies is a choice. I understand that- I disagree, but I understand the logic of it.

But the people who go around saying they are pro-life, but have these glaring exceptions for rape and incest? It boggle the mind. It is just so completely illogical to claim a deep respect for life, but to have the ability to allow for life to be squashed out when it meets *their* level of discomfort or inconvenience. They are the epitome of hypocrisy- "my daughter was raped; your daughter is a slut who should be punished for her sins with the glorious gift of a child" seems to be their morality.
posted by gjc at 4:14 AM on July 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


There are no US states where performing a termination (including providing means of medical termination) carries a sentence of fourteen years.

Yet.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:19 AM on July 12, 2013


What's that about? Male privilege? Silence?

No, it'a about the fact that the Irish enshrines the right of the fetus to life into the Constitution:

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

This law loosens the reigns on "due regard to the equal right to life of the mother" but in cases of non-viable pregnancies, the expectation is that the fetus should live until it does a natural death.

I also tend to think that it's difficult for North Americans to comprehend that there are democratic societies out there that are fundamentally conservative

I think it's just as difficult if not more difficult for Americans to understand that virtually all western governments are more socially liberal than the US. It's easy to write the abortion situation in Ireland off as "Ireland is a conservative country with a conservative government" but it is nothing like as clearcut as that. Ireland as a nation is, in common with many of its European neighbours, far more socially progressive that the US. Off the top of my head I'd chart it vaguely like this:

LEFT {Scandinavia - OTHER - IRL - UK- CAN - US } RIGHT

Where "other" is a whole range of governments.

which will permit the first-ever legal abortions to occur in Ireland?

There are lawful abortions that take place here every year to save the life of the mother, it's just a small, unknown number and we don't call them abortions.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:33 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Roundup of the vote, and outline of possible repercussions. Including a suggestion that women will not be able to bring a friend or advocate into the panel with them.

I have no idea how that is supposed to work when you're 14, or mentally disabled, so I hope that proves not to be the case.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:58 AM on July 12, 2013


This vote brings legislation onto the books 20 years after the X Case.

Hard cases make bad law.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 6:00 AM on July 12, 2013


Given the hoops you have to jump through, I very much doubt this. Many women will still go to the UK where they don't face a panel sorting through whether they really are suicidal enough or not.

Martyn Turner's cartoon yesterday pretty much summed it up.
posted by rollick at 6:09 AM on July 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


And today's too, actually.
posted by rollick at 6:11 AM on July 12, 2013


[IRA derail deleted. Let's stick to the post subject, please.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:18 AM on July 12, 2013


Well, Chocolate Pickle, I'm sure all those women jumping through ridiculous and demeaning hoops in order to exercise a say over what happens in their own bodies and lives will be duly chastened by your righteous disapproval of their methods for doing so.

You misunderstand me. It's the law I'm sardonic about.

They created a loophole you could drive a truck through. Why not just admit that they're legalizing it?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:43 AM on July 12, 2013


Because having to prove you're suicidal to a three-doctor panel in a country that has historically been very anti-abortion isn't "a loophole you could drive a truck through"?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:51 AM on July 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


I have a friend who is pregnant here in Ireland right now. Her doctors would not even give her a blood test to confirm pregnancy until after 16 weeks, when it was too late to have an abortion, let alone any kind of ultrasound or other testing. She had no idea if her embryo was even viable but was told not to worry about it because there's nothing she can do anyway. This wasn't just one doctor, this is apparently the normal standard of care. Now my friend is lucky, she's from a nearby country so went home and had the ten week scans to make sure things are OK before it was too late (which was relevant to her medical background). But not everyone has that option available to them.

So yeah, this isn't some giant loophole given that it's either difficult or impossible to even get your pregnancy confirmed in the first place let alone anything else. Gender politics here are really eye openingly bad, I'm still surprised at how regressive things are (the same friend had to argue with her previous doctor for an IUD because "you're married, why do you need contraception?"). I personally won't be that surprised if it leads to zero extra abortions per year, and at best it's going to be a tiny number.

And I get that things are really bad in many parts of America. But things are really truly just so much worse here.
posted by shelleycat at 7:06 AM on July 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


From the Guardian Article -

"Sinn Féin TD (MP) Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin predicted that it was only a matter of time before a case emerged through the courts challenging that aspect of the new bill that criminalises abortion.

Anyone procuring or seeking an abortion could face up to 14 years in prison. He said a case might result from a young woman taking abortion pills who might seek to challenge the penalty"

14 years. So if she was raped that's potentially a lot more than the rapist would get sentenced.

You could drive a truck through that loophole as long as man drives suicidal woman to judging doctors.
posted by we are the music makers at 9:26 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Your foetus: it's sacred to us until it's born, then it's a lot less sacred and more importantly it's YOUR problem.
posted by elpapacito at 9:31 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Ireland abortion debate, summed up in one disrespectful gesture

Tom Barry pulling Áine Collins on to his lap at the Dáil sums up the farce and lack of empathy inherent in the debate
posted by KokuRyu at 10:51 AM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Shelleycat, that's interesting because that's not how it's supposed to work, or indeed does work, in my experience. The Maternity and Infant Care Scheme is an agreed programme of prenatal, delivery and post-natal care and is implemented nationwide, free of charge. In some places you get a scan at 12 weeks, and at others at 20 weeks. Certainly in Cork, early scans are routinely done so women who are pregnant with multiples can be referred to the specialist multiples unit at CUMH.

I agree that what is fucked is prenatal screening. A friend who was pregnant with her second child at 40 had to travel to a private clinic in Dublin for the full panel of pre-natal screening you'd routinely see in other countries, and if there had been a fetal abnormality, would of course had to travel to the UK for a termination if she'd made that choice.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:30 AM on July 12, 2013


Yeah, my information is based on one person so I don't know if it's really normal. But she's a smart educated person, it's not her first child, she is in Cork, and they flat out would not give her blood test to confirm pregnancy or a 12 week scan, let alone any kind of prenatal screening (which she did ask for and did require based on medical whatever and which she had done in a different country).

I'm not surprised from a scientific point of view that this isn't supposed to be the standard of care and wonder how much of it was my friend being an outsider and not knowing what she is entitled to and thus fighting for it. But given at least some doctors are applying the really basic stuff differently it's pretty likely that these new abortion rules are also going to be applied differently depending on who happens to be on each three doctor board etc.
posted by shelleycat at 12:34 PM on July 12, 2013


"What will Ireland’s new abortion law change? 18 Questions and Answers to explain exactly what the Protection of Life Bill 2013 means for Ireland."
posted by DarlingBri at 4:46 AM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]




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