• michaelofkells

    The foetus has rights.  That’s the law in Ireland and it is a democratically-enshrined principle of the Irish constitution.  


    The mother has rights too.    There is NOTHING in the Irish constitution that puts the right to life of the foetus ahead of a mother’s right to life.


    No doctor in Ireland  has EVER been prosecuted for carrying out a termination which, in the doctors clinical judgement, was required to protect the mother’s life.    (The linguistic gymnastics are such a surgical procedure which has the result  – but not the primary objective – of loss of the foetus, and has as its objective saving the mother’s life doesn’t count as an abortion.  )


    Please everybody;  stop using this tragedy as a proxy for a wider debate.


  • crowepps

    The ‘wider debate’ is about whether one of the ‘rights’ the foetus has is to kill women.  The ‘wider debate’ is about whether women do have the right to self-defense or whether “It is not better that the mother live the rest of her existence having had her child killed.”

    We have previously discussed the case of the young woman who died of lung cancer in the Dominican Republic because the Catholic Church wouldn’t allow her to receive standard medical treatment, and how passage of H.R. 212 would mean American women would inevitably join the women in Mexico and South America who die of untreated ectopic pregnancies because the Catholic Church won’t allow them to receive standard medical treatment, and the risks to children forced to carry incestuous pregnancies to term because the Catholic Church won’t allow abortions.

    In addition we discuss the thousands and thousands of women who die from illegal abortions, the thousand women who die every day from pregnancy and childbirth complications and those who have their physical and/or mental health ruined by complications of pregnancy, and those who are infected with HIV/AIDS because the Catholic Church insists every single act of sex (for women) must be structured as a religious ceremony about fertility.

    We even discuss those cases where some brave soul like Sister McBride resists the urgings of the Catholic Church that women should *want* to be martyrs and is punished for allowing a woman’s life to be saved.

    As women I guess we just have more of an interest in discussing those subjects than you.  After all, it’s not like it matters to *you* whether doctors stand by, selfishly worrying about whether the Church will get mad at them, while pregnancy complications kill women.  It’s not like it matters to you if the rights of the foetus just sort of *incidentally* end up being held to be more important than the woman’s right to life, over and over and over.  I’m sure you faithfully set aside a little time out of your busy life to to be really really *sad* about all those deaths and how terrible it is that morality and upholding the sanctity of the Church’s linguistic gymnastics *required* them to happen.

    The one thing I *have* noticed that apologists for the Church are always *eager* to discuss is how each and every one of those cases is a unique and individual tragedy, and how everybody involved just misunderstood things, and how nobody should talk until after they know every single fact of the incident, and how none of the incidents should be used as a proxy for the larger debate, and how it’s not like any case proves there’s some kind of PATTERN EVIDENT.

  • michaelofkells

    The ‘wider debate’ is about whether one of the ‘rights’ the foetus has is to kill women.  The ‘wider debate’ is about whether women do have the right to self-defense or whether “It is not better that the mother live the rest of her existence having had her child killed.”


    Yes – that is a wider debate.  But not in Ireland.  In Ireland, the foetus does not have the right to kill a woman.    Nothing trumps the mother’s right to life.  The law is clear about  that.   


    If there are countries which do not value and protect a mother’s right to life, it is right that we should question this.  But Ireland is not one of those countries.  Which is why it is frankly mystifying that this tragedy happened.  Tragic outcomes like this are not the norm, but are so rare, so shocking and so contrary to the superb standards achieved in Ireland in maternal and foetal health, that the entire nation is debating this tragedy.   


    It is needlessly insulting to suggest that women have more of an interest in discussing these subjects.  This stuff matters to everyone.

  • crowepps

    I think you’re being disingenuous because nobody can believe that “Nothing trumps the mother’s right to life” when they aren’t willing to legislate that principle, or that “The law is clear about that” when so obviously the doctors in this case believed that they were not allowed to abort a doomed fetus until the heartbeat stopped AND that they weren’t allowed to prescribe prophylactic antibiotics because they might have a negative effect on a doomed fetus.  The first could possibly be justified as misreading the law, but IF the law was clear the second could only be stupidity that rises to the level of professional incompetence and malpractice.  In fact, though, the articles have been clear that:

    The case has highlighted Ireland’s failure to legislate in line with a two-decade-old Supreme Court judgment that women should receive abortions in cases where the pregnancy places their lives at risk.

    I work in the legal field.  If there is NO LEGISLATION then the law is NOT clear.

    You could be right that this rarely happens, since most women whose health is compromised by their pregnancy complications can make it to England where real medical care is available to them, but since Ireland refuses to actually track medically necessary abortions statistically, tragic outcomes like this could be for all we know fairly common, and the shocking thing is that in this case somebody actually went to the press and created scandal by publicly complaining.

    As to whether my statement was insulting, sorry if you think so, but I think it is just the truth.  Women are discussing “if I get pregnant am I going to die while my obstetrician stands by and watches?” while men are discussing whether or not they are willing to sacrifice the woman or violate the ‘sanctity of life’ of a doomed fetus, but in either case finely parsing their philosophical opinions about whether somebody ELSE should die.  The difference in perspective may seem minor to you, but then that’s my point; you aren’t, and will never be, the one whose life is actually at risk.

  • give-em-hell-mary

    I suspect maternal deaths are shockingly under-reported everywhere, especially because of time lags that enable coroners to blame “other causes”, never mind that childbirth triggered those “other causes”.  The Washington, DC area has many maternal deaths found in The Washington Post obits.

  • ljean8080

    death in my area in years.Women with kids die from things unrelated to childbirth all the time.Look at Liam Neeson’s wife.her death was an accident unrelated to her giving birth.

  • crowepps

    The existence of reality doesn’t depend on your seeing it personally.

  • crowepps

    Michelle Harte, of Co Wexford, sued for violation of her human rights last year. In 2010, after she became unintentionally pregnant while suffering from a malignant melanoma, doctors at Cork University Hospital advised her to terminate her pregnancy because of the risk to her health. Her obstetrician was willing to perform a termination but was “hamstrung” by legal issues. The matter was referred to the hospital’s “ad hoc” ethics committee. which decided against authorising an abortion on the basis that her life was not under “immediate threat”.



    Michelle Harte (39) from Wexford told The Irish Times that doctors at Cork University Hospital advised her for medical reasons to terminate her pregnancy but then refused to carry out the procedure.

    A previous Irish court judgement had allowed such a procedure where the mother’s life was in danger. However the ethics committee refused to allow an abortion because they claimed no “immediate threat”.



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