Decision in Miss D case

The High Court in Dublin today allowed Miss D, the young lady in the care of the HSE, to travel to England for an abortion. As noted here previously, Miss D’s baby is anacephalic, and has no chance of survival. Despite this, the State appointed a Barrister to represent the foetus’s rights, as it has a ‘right to life’ under the Irish constitution, even though it has no prospect of life.

Alliance for Choice spokeswoman Dr Mary Muldowney said: “Alliance for Choice asks how many more young women will be traumatised before Irish law recognises their human right to access abortion services safely and legally in their own country. Most of the stress that surrounds abortion for women from this country relates to the barriers that the current legal situation has erected around women`s ability to make choices based on what is right for them.”

  • Yer Woman

    I’m glad the Irish legal system came to it’s senses.

    Appointing legal representation for a foetus however ranks up with whatever third world country it was that forced a man to marry a goat after he was caught *cough* getting intimate with it.

  • It was more the HSE that came to its senses, or rather was forced to by the court. It was the HSE that decided to ignore Miss D’s right to travel abroad for an abortion and (1)inform the gardai and (2) prevent a passport being issued. As the court said, there is absolutely no statutory or constitutional bar to her travelling abroad for an abortion and the HSE was behaving quite improperly. Of course the real issue is why she has to go out of Ireland for an abortion in the first place. See my two posts on the case.

  • George

    Yer Woman,
    “Appointing legal representation for a foetus however ranks up with whatever third world country it was that forced a man to marry a goat after he was caught *cough* getting intimate with it.”

    And what would be your legal reasoning for this statement? I would have thought that considering the constitutional issues involved this was a necessary move.

  • Cahal

    “even though it has no prospect of life”

    I thought the baby would be alive when born, then die shortly there after.

    How long after birth is it before we are alive?

  • Obscure Reference

    Goat fucking in this thread, sheep fucking in the last thread. Is it possible to discuss the issue without any animal shagging allegories?

    It doesn’t appear that the High Court found anything new to decide on. Which means someone in the HSE has er, screwed the pooch. Goddammit.

  • Harry Flashman

    When the “foetus” is born it will be a human being. The child may not have a very long life but it will be alive, Miss Fitz.

    Your ignorance of such a basic and fundamental fact rather precludes you from having anything meaningful to contribute to the debate don’t you think?

  • Harry Flashman

    Given that you have now edited your original post to cover up your initial error would it not be common courtesy to acknowledge the fact?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Harry, is it possible for you to produce an opinion at all that doesn’t mention liberals ?

  • J McConnell

    Harry Flashman

    As the fetus is medically brain dead (i.e it has and will only have little beyond a brain stem) the Irish law is a complete ass.

  • femalepolitico

    Enough of a personal abuse harry, miss fitz has an opinion on the matter, which incidentally is shared by most right thinking people including me and she is entitled to air that opinion, particularly so as she is a blogger and thats what she is here to do – air her opinions.

  • I recall that earlier in the case the HSE was arguing that there was no case to let her go because she was not suicidal. To which I could only imagine replying: “but we’re working on it”

  • Animus

    There is no guarantee the child would be born alive. It’s hard to be delighted about an outcome in such horrid circumstances, but I am relieved that the responsible and compassionate decision was taken, even if under duress.

    Alex – I thought the exact same thing.

  • susan

    Well said, Nick, femalepolitico, Alex and Animus. And I’m glad
    Dr Declan Keane, The Master of the National Maternity Hospital, has called for the law to be changed to allow abortions to take place in Ireland where the foetus has no chance of living outside the womb.

    Dr Keane’s concern for post mortem facilities (so important to grieving famlies anxious to learn the medical cause of their loss, and the odds they might face another loss in any subsequent pregnancy) and post-abortion counselling is compassion in action.

    from the RTÉ site:

    Dr Keane said there were a handful of conditions which were incompatible with life, and anencephaly was one of these.

    He said it would be preferable to be allowed to carry out the abortion in Ireland, because of the lack of post mortem facilities in many abortion facilities abroad.

    Dr Keane said if the operations were carried out here, then post abortion counselling could also be offered.

    He said his hospital sees between four to six cases of anencephaly each year.

    Half of the women carried the baby to term, the other half sought a termination, he added.”

  • Harry Flashman

    **Harry, is it possible for you to produce an opinion at all that doesn’t mention liberals ?
    Posted by Comrade Stalin on May 10, 2007 @ 08:33 AM**

    That’s an odd comment as I never mentioned that word in either of the two posts posted above yours.

    Nor in this post either, so that’s three opinions on this thread alone, can’t you read properly CS?

    **Enough of a personal abuse harry, **

    There was no personal abuse, Miss Fitz made a factually incorrect statement, both I and Cahal pointed out her mistake, I elaborated by mentioning that someone so unfamiliar with the case shouldn’t really be posting on it.

    Miss Fitz then changed the original post without acknowledging her original mistake, I am entitled to point this out as otherwise Cahal’s statement and mine look as if they relate to nothing in particular.

    As regards personl abuse the implication of your post is that most people who don’t agree with you do not think right ie are a bit stupid, sauce for the goose but apparently not for the gander femalepolitico?

  • Mayoman

    Harry: “The child may not have a very long life but it will be alive”.

    Actually, Harry, it will be dying, from the moment it leaves the only place where its life can be supported. You may want to bring about/prolong the agony of a mother watching the inevitable death of her just-born child, but most of us, thank God (and you His name here deliberately!), would not.

  • miss fitz

    I changed the wording slightly from the original post, as I had used a word twice, and it didnt read right.

    However, I did not make a mistake in the substsantive issue of the post, as you are stating.

    I have witnessed the birth of two anacephalics and it is highly distressing. Depending on the amount of brain stem that is functioning there may be respiratory and cardiac function, but this will expire fairly rapidly.

    While a foetus remains in utero, it is a foetus.

  • Harry Flashman

    No Miss Fitz you changed the post substantively and only after your mistake was pointed out by Cahal and I. You said the child will have no chance of life this is incorrect and you know it, when the child is born it will be alive, no one knows for how long it may live but it is still a living human being. You changed your post from no chance of life to no chance of survival, that is a totally different thing and you know it (I happen to know a few ancephalics too and they are both still alive many years after their birth).


    I have no wish to prolong anyone’s agony, I haven’t the slightest idea why you would accuse me of such, have I posted to that affect somewhere? I merely wished to point out Miss Fitz’s inaccuracy, please try and keep up!

    By the way the statement that the child will be dying from the time it leaves the womb is asinine, we are all dying from the time we leave our mother’s womb, for some it just takes longer.

  • willis

    Now I’m confused.

    “Dr Declan Keane, The Master of the National Maternity Hospital, has called for the law to be changed to allow abortions to take place in Ireland where the foetus has no chance of living outside the womb.”

    “Dr Keane said there were a handful of conditions which were incompatible with life, and anencephaly was one of these.”

    Harry Flashman
    (I happen to know a few ancephalics too and they are both still alive many years after their birth).

    One of them must be wrong!

  • Animus

    Hate to be a terrible pedant here, but anacephaly literaly means without a head. Reading some of the material yesterday I saw that Miss D saw on her scan that her baby had no head. How is a child without a brain going to survive birth? Without a brain stem, the foetus is hardly what one would recognise as living. If a child (or adult) were in the same condition, we would turn off the life support. Not even that there is a lack of brain function, there is a lack of brain.

    Harry, I suspect you know people who have had encephalitis, which is a different, and survivable condition. In your own words – “Your ignorance of such a basic and fundamental fact rather precludes you from having anything meaningful to contribute to the debate don’t you think?”

  • Globetrotter

    Since when did absolute ignorance of the facts hinder anyone from presenting an argument on Slugger?

  • miss fitz

    I’m not sure how to approach this now, as your comment about knowing people who have anacephaly is a bit disorienting. As I’ve mentioned, I have witnessed the birth of 2 anacephalics, and the distress of the situation is as vivid today as it was all those years ago. They are born with quite literally collapased heads, and death occurs within minutes, hours or perhaps up to 3 days. Survival beyond that is not feasible, as Dr Keane is quoted above because the condition is incompatible with life.

    As to your comments about the original post, I seem to be missing your point. I had used the word ‘survival’ twice, and corrected the second usage for tidiness. I have not substantially changed the post, nor did I change it in response to what anyone wrote. I always check my posts when they go on the board, to ensure they read as well as possible.

    This foetus has no chance of life, and I make no apology for making that statmement. Many anacephalic foetus are spontaneous abortions, but those that are identified can be carried to term with the expectation of death soon after.

    One of the points being made here of course is that it would be preferable to have abortion facilities for cases such as this as the post mortem situation would be better. In other words, the mother could be present for the length of life in a more familiar setting, and without the trauma of travel and other disruptions. I would not hesitate in supporting an abortion in this case, and I feel that the ambivalence that exists in the Irish consitution will need to be removed at some point.

    Perhaps the further we move away from the strangle hold of religious supersitition and mediaeval notions of when life begins, we can address this with the benefit of science, empathy and compassion from a more practical perspective.

  • Harry Flashman

    **Harry, I suspect you know people who have had encephalitis, which is a different, and survivable condition. In your own words – “Your ignorance of such a basic and fundamental fact rather precludes you from having anything meaningful to contribute to the debate don’t you think?”**

    Er I’ll get me coat shall I?

    But seriously, my main point remains (and I accept Miss Fitz’s explanation that she was merely tidying up her post) if the child was carried to full term and was not still born, would it not be a living human being no matter how brief and tragic its short life may be?

    I am not being pedantic here, I would like to know the legal and/or medical situation. If I were in Miss D’s shoes I would do exactly what she is doing so please leave off the accusations that I am some sort of god bothering misogynist. But what if another woman decided to carry the pregancy to term and it was born alive?

    Would we accept that the child born, with all its horrific abnormalities, fully cognisant of the fact that it had but a few hours to live, was nonetheless a fellow human being (if it was not then what would it be?) and would we agree that during its tragically brief existence it was an Irish citizen like us too?

    Or would we deny the poor child the dignity of even that?

  • Cahal

    Err, ok gerry, are you a member of the PDs by any chance.

    Back to the point at hand. Harry, and I, are trying to make a very simple point. The foetus/baby will be alive when it is born. We agree it will likely be dead within hours. However the distortion of facts here is indicative of the tactics used by the pro-abortion lobby.

    Miss Fitz says,

    “This foetus has no chance of life”

    This is just factually incorrect, and facts=credibility.

    In my opinion, this debate has damn all to do with abortion ‘rights’. It seems to be more closely linked to the euthenasia debate.

    If a terminally ill person is incapable of making a decision about whether or not to terminate their own life, can their legal gaurdian make that decision for them? In this case I think most people would say yes.

  • Miss Fitz

    Lets address the salient points here first.

    Do you contend that anacephaly is compatible with life? How long do you think that someone can live for without a functioning higher brain?

    Just answer that please.

    And for the record, I do not belong to a pro choice group. I exercised conscientious objection to absent myself from abortion procedures while I was nursing in New York.

    However, I do believe in compassion and common sense, and I would have no hesitation in assisting at this abortion, if I was still in that line of work.

  • If Miss Fitz thinks its cruel that a girl had to go before the courts in Dublin to obtain permission to travel for an abortion to the UK what does she think of the following proposal by our own Health Authority in Northern Ireland, issued in a document called “Draft Guidance on The Termination of Pregnancy in Northern Ireland,” published in January 2007 and easily obtainable on the internet :
    Section 2.13 ….“These chapters explain the circumstances in which a
    referral should be made to the court for a ruling before a medical
    procedure or treatment is undertaken, and the circumstances in
    which it may be appropriate to apply to the court to over-ride the
    refusal of consent by a young person. Practitioners should be aware
    that court referrals have been considered necessary and have been
    made in some cases where termination of pregnancy has been the
    So look out for the case in Northern Ireland where a 17 year old girl in care doesn’t want to abort her anacephalic baby and is being taken to court by the Department of Health to “over-ride” her refusal of consent. Imagine the scene if she is forced to go ahead with an abortion to which she has not consented.
    This is the “civilized” Ireland that feminists yearn for.
    Truly barbaric.

  • miss fitz


    Your post is more than a little disingenuous.

    The cases cited in Appendix A do not illustrate any instance where an abortion was carried out against the will of the individual. On the contrary, each of the cases cited was one where the physical or mental health of the mother was in danger and an abortion was considered the most effective therapeutic option.

    There is no question in the Draft guidelines about forcing people to have an abortion. The law remains in Northern Ireland that an abortion is carried out where there is real and substantive threat to the physical and mental well being of the mother. An abnormality in the foetus would not presently nor inthe future constitute grounds for abortion

  • I have the guidelnes in fromt of me. The section headed Consent deals with this. It clearly states at 2.13 that there may be instances where a girls refusal to consent can be over ridden. I quoted the section in my last post.
    I know that the case law does not substantiate this. So why are the guidelines using the case law in the consent section to look as if the courts approve?
    The disingenous party is the author of the Draft Guidelines.

  • missfitz

    I have no axe to grind in this matter, and am not pushing an agenda.

    However, my reading of this is quite straight forward. The causative factors for abortion have not been altered. You still cannot have an abortion in Northern Ireland UNLESS there is a risk to the physical or mental health to the mother. The condition of the foetus in NI law is immaterial.

    You said:

    “So look out for the case in Northern Ireland where a 17 year old girl in care doesn’t want to abort her anacephalic baby and is being taken to court by the Department of Health to “over-ride” her refusal of consent.”

    This statement is clearly disingenuous because under the guidelines there will be no case to abort an anacephalic foetus, just as there is no case now. However, if the life of the underage mother is in question and she does not wish to have an abortion, as the law stands, and as the guidelines make clear, her wish to commit ‘suicide by birth’ can indeed by over ridden.
    In the cases cited in the appendix, the issue was the mental capacity of the mothers to provide consent given their learning disability or other profound mental disablement. In each case, it appears the abortion was consensual and in each case corroborating proof was required to illustrate that the life of the mother was in jeopardy if the abortion did not take place.

  • miss fitz

    OK, so you accept that an underaged girl can be made to go through with an abortion she does not consent to and that this is included in the Department of Health guielines. Whether or not the child is disabled, these cases may have to go to court apparently. This is called forced abortion.

    So talk me through this one.

    A girl is pregnant, she doesnt want to have an abortion, her refusal of consent is over-ridden and she is made to abort her child. How does this happen, ie the actual abortion, if she is resisting and hysterical, what takes place?

    You claim there is legal authority for this. What is that legal authority? You have already accepted that the cases cited in the guidelines do not apply to non consent. There is no case law or statute law which allows forced abortion here in Northern Ireland. Only these guidelines imply there is.

    I never cease to be amazed by the arguements of pro aborts but the phrase “suicide by birth” is a new one on me. Is this a recognised medical term?

  • miss fitz

    I dont mind having a debate eodon, but to be honest, I wont have one with someone who twists words and refuses to acknowledge certainties.

    You called me a ‘pro abort’, after I said that I am not neccesarily pro choice in all situations.

    What I have said in my precious posts is that if there is a choice between the life of the mother and the life of the foetus, the mother is the one whose life is saved.

    Why dont you provide some real arguements here, otherwise I feel you are just using emotive and non scientific pieces of superstition to bolster your non existent case.

  • miss fitz

    I have not twisted any words.

    Fact: These guidelines state that an under aged girl can be forced to abort against her will.

    Fact: You accept that.

    Fact: I find forced abortion brutal.

    Fact: Forced abortion in any circumstances is illegal.

    Question: Why is forced abortion in the guidelines and how can you defend it?

    Fact: You are getting upset because you cant justify forced abortion.

  • missfitz

    On the contrary eodon, I’m not getting upset, but I am certainly a little frustrated at your inability to provide good robust arguments.

    An underaged girl can be forced to abort against her will if that will save her life.

    Now can you tell me who is the more vulnerable in this situation:

    A 14 year old severely mentally handicapped girl who has been raped and becomes pregant. On examination, it is found that she cannot safely carry this child for medical reasons, and that if she continues she will die.

    Answer me this, and no more than this.

    In this case, should an abortion be performed to save the life of the mother??

    These are the situations the guidelines are dealing with, not some other made up situation that you are pulling out of the air.

  • missfitz

    The answer to the made up situation that you have pulled out of the air is NO she should not have an abortion forced upon her.


    1. It would be ILLEGAL to committ an abortion without consent in ANY circumstances.

    You would be commiting GBH on the girl and Illegal abortion/Child Destruction on the baby. Very Serious.

    2. There is no pregnancy condition which requires a direct abortion to prevent the death of the mother. (If you know of one tell me there are lots of doctors who would be interested.)

    3. I am a Catholic.

    What about this situation:

    A 17 year old girl is in care and 35 weeks pregnant with a child she loves. She would never consider an abortion. She has the same imaginary medical condition as the girl in your example.

    Answer me this

    Should you FORCE and abortion on her and her child?

  • missfitz

    This is why I cant discuss this with you.

    The legal limit for termination is 24 weeks, so at 35 weeks you have a viable foetus.

    Look, you are obviously very anti abortion in all circumstances, and I feel sad for you. I think its very intolerant and short sighted,

  • Animus


    I suspect you’re just trolling here, but no one supports abortion at 35 weeks. No one. Having done a quick Google trawl, I find that some birth defects may be severe enough to place both mother and foetus at risk. Unless you are a doctor prepared to argue this point, the onus is on you to disprove. Point 1 – you are incorrect. It was not illegal to sterilise women with learning difficulties against their will in many places; it was not considered GBH, any more than sectioning someone if they are felt to lack capacity to make an informed decision. Point 2 is plainly incorrect and you are not only belligerent but quite wrong. Point 3 is a statemtn of fact, not a reason for anything. It is not common to require abortion to save a mother’s health, but sufficiently common to be termed therapeutic abortion.

  • missfitz

    The 24 week legal limit is under the Abortion Act 1967 which is not in force in Northern Ireland.(Although a disabled baby can be aborted to term in England)

    The Northern Ireland law is the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 and the Criminal Justice Act 1945. Neither of these prescribe a time limit as they are dealing with criminal offences.

    The abortions which are done legally are those which fall under the common law offence, based on the Bourne Case 1937.

    There is therefore NO gestational limit if the case falls under the common law exeption.

    So, now I have explained the law to you, do you want to answer the question I posed?

    I had the courtesy to answer your question.

    The fact that you thought the 24 week limit appied to Northern Ireland is a frightening example of how inadequate these guidelines are.

    Im not sure you really know enough about this subject to be discussing it at this level.

  • missfitz

    I’ve been to your website Eodon, and I can see that abortion is a very important issue for you.

    It’s not an issue that keeps me awake at night to be honest, and I think that its humane to abort in certain circumstances.

    You spoke of forcing people to have medical treatment, and I can say that I have seen in on many occasions in my life. I have seen court orders for people to have blood transfusion against their will, I have seen Courts decide against parents who refused to administer insulin. In Tennessee, many people believed in the power of prayer over conventional medicine, and I have seen medical treatemt being administered under order.

    None of it was pleasant, and it is without doubt a moral dilemma. But the basic point is that EXISTING life is sacred. A foetus before 24 weeks is not viable and is not worth a living life.

    What I have seen in my time, and what does bother me still, is images of abused children. I can never forget the first murdered child I took care of in ER, nor many of the subsequent abused and battered children.

    If you want to campaign for something, campaign for the rights of living chidlren who are abused, beaten and murdered. Better to terminate an unwanted pregnancy than risk a living child being tortured.

  • Miss Fitz

    Which bit of this do you have a problem with? And you are definitely right on one point, my experience in this area does not place me on a fanatical level. As I said, I wouldnt lose any sleep over this, and if a woman in Ireland or any where else cannot cope with an unwanted pregnancy, she should have the right to terminate it.

    From the guidelines:

    Termination of pregnancy beyond the time at which a child is ‘capable
    of being born alive’ is governed by the Criminal Justice Act (NI) 1945,
    which provides a statutory defence against the offence of child
    destruction where the act which caused the death of the child was
    done in good faith for the purpose of preserving the life of the mother.
    Exactly the same principles (see paragraph 2.5) apply in such a case.
    In other words the legal justification for carrying out a termination of
    pregnancy in Northern Ireland is exactly the same both before and
    after the time at which a child is capable of being born alive. This
    follows from the Bourne decision and its application to the Northern
    Ireland legislation. The 1945 Act does not prescribe a time period
    beyond which a child is ‘capable of being born alive’. This would
    therefore be a matter of evidence in the event of a prosecution in
    Northern Ireland.

  • Animus

    If you support the proposed guidelines in NI then you support abortion to full term.

    I am not wrong on the Law. It is illegal to force an abortion on a person against their consent in Northern Ireland. The guidelines are clearly n breach of the law in this regard.

    Your point about lackng capacity is not relevant, a person who lacks capacity cannot legally consent and therefore cannot have their refusal to consent over ridden, which is the issue being discussed here. (re s. 2.9 to 2.13 of the Draft Guidelines)

    Tell me if there is a pregnancy condition which requires direct abortion to save the life of the mother. I cannot prove that there isn’t, precisely because non exists.

  • Animus

    Wrong. My personal view is my personal view – I’m not a legislator and I don’t have to support guidelines wholesale. I’ll give you an example of a case in which a mother may have to abort – many types of cancer may mean that a mother and her foetus would die. Some foetal anomalies may also result in the death of both. There you go – you could have looked it up yourself, and you’re too busy getting stuck in to someone else to make a difference. There aren’t that many cases, you are getting awfully wound up about it.

    You obviously are going to believe whatever you want, and it is sad that you would protect the life of a foetus over a mother to the point that you would sacrifice both. Truly sad. I have to agree with MissFitz here; better to look after the vast numbers of children who are living in poverty and misery with parents who are incapable and incompetent of showing love and compassion than to worry about the hypothetical and very rare cases of which you are ranting.

  • missfitz

    Its hard to discuss this with you as you are getting erratic.

    The section you have quoted from the guidelines refers to the 1945 Act and relates to the offence of Child Destruction, which is an offence only relevant when the child is “capable of being born alive”. This is nothing to do with a cut off point for abortions. Why hav.e you referred to it

    The 24 week limit does not apply.

    Incidentally the guidelines are also wrong in their treatment of the 1945 Act. They miss out section 25(2). A gross oversight.

    In this country there is no right to commit abortion, either in law or morally.

  • Animus

    You misunderstand the point of the discussion.

    We were talking about FORCED abortion, where the woman does not consent, as provided for in the guidelines.

  • Miss Fitz

    You are obviously a very clever person, who is well versed in this issue and very passionate about your views. Your webpage demonstrates this very clearly, and you have a right to have your views.

    You are now starting to direct personal insults at me, and I unerstand your tactic.

    I find myself agreeing completely with Animus on these issues.

    Perhaps the best thing is to bring this back to the legitimacy of my original post. That is the point of origin of my argument, and I re-iterate it. A woman carrying a foetus with abnormalities and no chance of life should have the option of aborting it.

    On your other points regarding the controversial guidelines on abortion for NI, you are making some points that I heard on a recent radio debate, and you are correct. We should make sure that the 24 week rule for abortion is enacted and does not have to go to law for decision. I agree with you that abortion should have a 24 week cut off point and it should be more clear.

    As to forced abortions? Well, same as I said with the blood transfusions for Jehovah witnesses, or fanatics that believe prayer cures illness. There are times when it may be seen to be cruel to force treatment, but if there is a lack of capacity or other circumstances and a clear risk to the life of the mother, well yes, the foetus gets aborted. I have looked on the net, but cannot find any case where it has happened in NI, perhaps you can enlighten us.

    As to the final point: when little babies like Madeline McCann are safe from paedophiles, well then I will worry about clumps of cells that stand no chance of survival.

  • Cahal

    Miss Fitz
    ” Do you contend that anacephaly is compatible with life? How long do you think that someone can live for without a functioning higher brain?”

    I’m not an MD. Going by your own information, which you provided yourself, you said the baby would die after a few hours or days I think. Before it is dead, I am assuming it is alive, unless there is some quasi-dead/alive state I am unaware of.

    ” Just answer that please.”

    You betcha sport.

    “And for the record, I do not belong to a pro choice group. I exercised conscientious objection to absent myself from abortion procedures while I was nursing in New York.”

    Nursing in New York ehh! Your resume must be the length of my arm. Fair play.

    In case you didn’t finish reading my post, I agree that the baby should be euthenized in this incident.

    Thats a far cry from supporting the kind of abortions-r-us attitude prevalent in the states though.

    I think the focus in Ireland should be on reducing unwanted pregnancies to the point where abortion isn’t even a factor. In that way we can bypass the abortion arguement altogether. Surely we can agree on that.

  • miss fitz

    I have not insulted you personally.

    I do not wish for there to be a cut off point at 24 weeks. I am pointing out your mistake in assuming that there is a 24 week cut off point in Northern Ireland when there isn’t.

    I do not agree with abortion at any gestation.

    I cant believe that, knowing now that there is no cut off at 24 weeks, you still agree that it is OK to force an abortion upon a non consenting woman, even if that means abortion to full term.

    Forcing an abortion is not the same as a blood transfusion. During a blood transfusion you dont have to kill anyone.

    Your reference to the unborn as clumps of cells is mean.

    When you can say that one life is greater than another, then no life is priceless any more.

    Forced abortion is acceptable to you, but I always thought that the right to abortion arguement was based on the right to choose? For the woman to do what SHE wanted with her body. Seems now that her choise is not so important anymore.

    I would only say that you should really think through this abortion thing. When you care so much about other people why not care about the unborn?

  • hovetwo

    “The basic point is that EXISTING life is sacred. A foetus before 24 weeks is not viable and is not worth a living life.”

    A statement that goes to the heart of the abortion debate, and explains why many people with otherwise similar views can be divided on the subject of abortion – when does a developing human being become a person, and when does a living foetus have a “living life”?

    Personally I cannot accept that inadequate lung development, one of the primary barriers to viability between twelve and twenty four weeks, is a valid justification for non-therapeutic (or social) abortion of a foetus with a functioning brain and central nervous system – a foetus that is alive and kicking in the womb.

    I would go further, and say that from the point where a unique human being starts to develop he or she starts to acquire rights – certainly no later than ten days after conception, when all identical twins have separated and, much more rarely, fraternal twins may have merged.

    I can understand why people regard a developing child as a cluster of cells. It’s not intuitive to empathise with a baby in the very earliest stages of development – but it is rational.

    I suspect more people will feel empathy for developing children as the full implications of scientific discoveries in genetics and ultra-sound are absorbed. After all, it took time for Darwinism to become understood and accepted, and even in the twentieth century we saw the absurdities of creationism and social darwinism, including the compulsory sterilsation of disabled women in Sweden.

    That doesn’t mean that a developing human being has an absolute right to life in all circumstances, or that we should have no compassion or empathy for the mother. I suspect we will get to a situation where therapeutic abortion will be permitted where there is a substantially elevated threat to the life or health of the mother, and abortion will be legalised in cases of rape.

    I appreciate that still leaves many women – and men – with the agonising choice of giving up a baby for adoption, or accepting the gruelling, exhausting, wonderful 24/7 responsibilities of parenthood. I know that those who choose to have an abortion don’t do so lightly, but I think they’re wrong, and that society has a duty to protect the rights of developing human beings, just as much it should protect the rights of neglected or abused children.

  • Miss Fitz


    You make a very reasonable argument and it probably represents the way I thought for a very long time. However, I think what swung me was the idea that an unborn foetus with no chance of independent, sustainable life would be treated equally under law as the mother.

    That just doesnt make sense to me. I am really reluctant to introduce feminist theology into this discussion, but there is certainly a school of thought that would argue that the idea of the sanctity of the unborn was yet another constuct of the early church to dominate the female. It can be seen as a control method. Indeed in the early church, coitus interruptus was seen as damaging as abortion or contraception, as it was seen as the woman avoiding pregnancy.

    I am beginning to be more convinced that a woman has a right to make decisions about her body and all the cells that grow on that body or in that body. I am not the best proponent of this argument, as I am developing my thoughts on it.

    You’re right about my CV. I nursed in Ireland and many states on the East Coast and south of America. I also nursed in Ireland before becoming involved in social services and the voluntary sector. I still work in that sector, but lecture in social science.

  • George

    Miss Fitz,
    “A foetus before 24 weeks is not viable”

    Medical advancements mean this is no longer the case.

    Since 2004, doctors in the Netherland have implemented the Gronigen protocol which looks at dealing with severely newborns.

    Under this protocol, doctors don’t attempt to keep the child alive where the child’s medical team agree the child is in severe pain, there no chance of improvement and the parents consent.

    If there is no consent from the parents then the child is given the best possible medical care.

    This is a rare situation. Statistics from 2003 showed only 4 infants died in this manner.

    A report was also issued in England by the Nuffield council on bio-ethics. They asked is it always necessary to try and prolong life.

    The council focused on grossly premature babies and firmly established that a baby born with less than 24 weeks gestation has a limited chance of survival but it is possible to keep them alive but they are generally severely handicapped as a result.

    The Council suggested that any child born after less than 22 weeks should be left to die. Over 23 weeks then the baby should only be resuccitated if parents ask. 24 weeks and over, give all the care you can.

    This behaviour differentiates itself from euthanasia in that this is refusing treatment rather than taking deliberate steps.

    Also, I haven’t read the entire thread but nowhere in Irish law does it state that the foetus has an equal right to life to the mother.

    The 8th Amendment doesn’t state that a foetus is a living human being, it just gives it a qualified right to life.

  • Miss Fitz

    One of the interesting aspects about the Miss D case was the appointment of Counsel for the foetus. I have copied this from one of the reports, but you could search it if you want more information. I think the point that is made about the Irish law on abortion is the fact that it remains ambiguous, and open to the types of challenges we continue to see.


    Lawyers representing the rights of the unborn child in the Miss D case have said it is protected under the constitution until it dies.

    They said that regardless of its condition this is a live foetus and its right to life is the same as that of any other foetus or child.

    Lawyers for the unborn said that longevity does not come into play in any way when measuring a child’s constitutional rights and there is no logic in seeking to define the current status of a foetus with reference to what will happen after birth.

    Mr Connolly, for the unborn, is making his submissions in response to the legal challenge by Miss D who wants to travel to the UK to have a termination because her baby has a fatal brain condition.

  • George

    Miss Fitz,
    not on this point. As I said, Irish law gives the unborn a qualified right to life. Appointing a Counsel to represent the unborn’s qualified rights to life under the Irish Constitution does not in any way change the reality that the rights are qualified.

    What that Counsel then argues is merely a legal argument and this case was nothing to do with the qualified rights of the unborn but the freedom to travel.