Timing is everthing

With election mania about to take hold in the Republic, news of 17 year old Miss D, who is 4 months pregnant and seeking an abortion is very possibly the worst kind of news for any politician versed in the art of equivocation. With the facts of the case so simple, and yet so stark it will be very difficult not to be able to take a definite stand. This is possibly the reason that the case is streaking through the Courts at the moment, with a decision expected next week.
The law in Ireland on abortion remains unclear and cowardly. The Irish solution to an Irish problem is to export it, in much the same way excess adults were exported generation after generation. At present, abortion is legal if there is a clear risk of suicide on the part of the mother, but the abortion can not be carried out on Irish soil. Miss D appears to be taking a very brave stance by stating she is not suicidal, but she does not wish to carry to term a baby that will be born without a functioning brain, and who will die within hours or days of birth. Update The Attorney General has now decided that the Unborn Child in this case is entitled to legal representation tomorrow and senior counsel has been appointed. From the RTE report:
She said it had been made abundantly clear to her that unless she was considered a suicide risk she would not be given permission by the HSE to travel for the abortion. Miss D said she was not suicidal.

She said she believed she would be arrested if tried to leave the state. The teenager added it seemed inhumane to expect her to carry a baby to term in circumstances where it had been condemned to death once born. She said the life of the baby was not in question. The diagnosis of anencephaly and the life expectancy of the baby is not disputed by the HSE. She said she was shocked by the extent to which the HSE had chosen to ignore her wishes, and to treat her as if she had no right to personal autonomy. Miss D said the situation was wholly unacceptable and she could not believe that she was prevented from exercising rights that any other 17-year-old in the State would have to travel for a termination simply because she was in the care of the HSE.

  • susan

    I apologise for yet another typo, “mercy thing” should read merciful.

  • gram

    Jocky:And as is the case here you would appear, along with Cahal and Kensie, to prefer stillbirth or early neo natal death to abortion? why? what is benefit?<

  • Jocky

    Gram, apologies for misrepresenting your position, thanks of rthe clarification.

  • susan

    Gram, I appreciate and thank you for your unequivocal support for Miss D’s decision in a predicament that can only be one of ongoing agony and anguish to her and those who care about her. I understand her and her partner’s families are prepared and ready to pay for her travel to England.

    ANd Jocky, the question you raised is relevant, in general if not to specific posters. The only “choices” in Miss D’s specific circumstances are either abortion, stillbirth, or early neo-natal death.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Animus: “how do you come to agreement on an issue like abortion when the partners disagree? Coin toss? If the woman is forced to live with most of the consequences, shouldn’t she have the final vote?”

    Ah, but you forget that it is a two-sided coin. Flip the script — if he doesn’t want it and she does, he’s pretty much scuppered. So *regardless* of what the male may or may not want, he’s pretty much got no control over the scenario. For all your talk of this being a “partnership,” it is effectively an autocracy — the man gets to live with whatever the woman’s choice is, regardless of his feelings or her prior representations.

    Animus: “No one has responded to my earlier post about spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). Should we be mourning these ‘babies’? ”

    Are suggesting that no prospective mother has *ever* mourned a miscarriage?

  • Cahal

    Gram
    “I do believe that abortion should be available in this case and in cases of still birth. I don’t believe abortion should be available on demand and don’t believe it should be available post 12 weeks for healthy babies.”

    A position I would be inclined to share, for the most part. However it can be the thin edge of the wedge.

    Animus stated she doesn’t believe a feotus is a baby until it is born. Does she support aborting a feotus 10 minutes before it is due to be delivered? How about if only the head is out? Is it then OK to cut the head off/suck the brains out? She may be more towards the fanatical end of the spectrum but you get my point.

  • susan

    The story is now on the BBC homepage and will be picked up more prominently by the world media.

    Is anyone keeping track of politicians taking a public stance on Miss D’s circumstances?

  • susan

    Found this account of the story on the AP wireservices, picked up by the FOX television news outlet, among others:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,269753,00.html

  • Animus

    Dread – in a case in which a mother is unaware of a pregnancy, she will not mourn. Of course I would not say that no one has ever mourned a miscarriage, I know many men and women personally who have (please see my previous posts on this – they don’t tend to mourn an individual, they mourn the loss of potential and the baby that would have been, not the foetus as was). Also, a partnership is made of many choices, not just whether or not to carry a child. Obviously this would be a deal-breaker in many relationships if agreement could not be sought, but people compromise in relationships every day.

    Cahal – please read posts, before you fire off your missives. You misrepresent me – malice or haste? I sense you are being deliberately obtuse and offensive, and may I refer you to my earlier post re: viability, where I claimed 20 weeks would be my cut-off. I said a foetus isn’t a person until born, not a baby. This has legal implications in terms of rights. Please keep up. Speaking of fantatical, your desperate attempts to push me into a position I’m not adopting show you to be far more fantantical. I don’t want women to have abortions, but I also don’t want anyone to be forced into motherhood against her will. That’s not a fanatic.

  • susan

    According to reports, it was revealed in court today that while the young woman was told there was a court order restricting her travel when HSE arranged for her to be evaluated by a psychiatrist, no such court order ever existed.

    Her lawyers are also arguing that the State can direct HSE to allow her to travel.

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0503/abortion.html

  • hovetwo

    Jocky et al,

    No contradiction in my reasoning – I was trying to give a range of options on when we might define a foetus as a person based on the scientific evidence I’ve read. 10 weeks post conception (typically 12 weeks from the last period) is a limit sought by many pro-choice scientists, but not by me.

    Based on the science, there is no doubt that conception itself is the point when most unique human beings are formed – we’re not talking human material such as nail clippings, we’re talking human beings, whose adult height, weight, colouring, musculature, predisposition to certain diseases and elements of mental agility and personality are largely defined by their dna.

    Clearly human beings are not sentient from conception, our central nervous systems have to develop, but the difference between them and us is merely a function of probability and time. If we terminate fast enough the foetus will not have developed fully, but we are ending the life of a developing human being (not a blank slate or a cluster of cells) who in most cases of abortion would otherwise have grown to be a healthy adult.

    I think that as the full implications of our discoveries in genetics, neuro-linguistic programming and ultrasound technology percolate through society we will see a tightening in abortion laws across the West.

    We might also recognise that the arbitrary definitions of (non)personhood we apply to the unborn have more to do with how our brains work than with scientific fact. Huge areas of the brain are dedicated to facial recognition, but in the absence of ultra-sound, it was impossible for us to use most of our faculties to see and empathise with our children in the earlier stages of their development.

    I do believe the right to life of the unborn should have primacy in most circumstances. That is not to say that a foetus should have an absolute right to life in all circumstances. For what it’s worth, I think it’s ridiculous that Miss D should be placed in this predicament, and my heart goes out to her, and to her unborn child who will never know what it’s like to grow up.

  • Albert

    “..a foetus isn’t a person until born…”

    What constitutes “a person”? Now there’s one for Sartre! I would be interesting to know if people disagree with the following :-

    “Life” is ageing process.
    Physical bodily properties develop at different times.
    There are stages in bodily functioning that occur e.g. CNS, eyeballs, teeth, puberty, 3rd Age
    The necessary “information” for such processes to take place commences at conception.

  • Cahal

    Animus
    “I don’t want women to have abortions, but I also don’t want anyone to be forced into motherhood against her will”

    Adoption.

    If a mother doesn’t want, or can’t look after, her own baby, somebody else will.

  • Crusty Burke

    RTE are reporting that the High Court have allowed Miss D. to travel for her abortion.

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0509/abortion.html